By Ellisa Feinstein
Water is an increasing concern among municipalities and countries, as well as companies that rely on water to operate their business. With a growing population, the demand for water is increasing at an exponential rate. As a free commodity, however, the investment in water technologies is extremely low compared to other green technologies.
During a panel on “The Supply Side of Water” at this week’s GoingGreen, experts discussed the future of water, in terms of innovation and opportunity. One of the solutions in providing clean drinking water to the masses in some parts of the world where it is particularly dry (e.g. UAE) or have been hit hard by droughts (e.g. Australia) is desalination. The financial and energy resources, however are incredibly high: it can cost over $1,000 per acre-foot to desalinate seawater. Despite this and the lack of profitability, Australia’s largest cities are still planning to build desalination plants.
According to “Supply Side” panelist Scott Jackson, managing partner of Telesto Consulting Group, there has been a lack of innovation in the water space, and this is likely contributing to the financial and environmental costs associated with desalination. Likewise, the other panelists also see little innovation in what moderator Laura Shenkar, founder of The Artemis Project calls “the red-headed step child of green technology.”
Panelists agree, however, that there is a desire and certainly a need for more innovation in water and it will likely be in the form of membranes, nanotechnology, biotechnology and other sources. A few start-up companies presenting at GoingGreen are tackling water issues and it will be seen if there is continued growth in this area, as well as wide-spread adoption of these and other technologies without the influx of financial capital.
Ellisa Feinstein received an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School. In addition to being passionate about water and other sustainability issues, she is an active urban cyclist and volunteer with San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Find her on Twitter at EllisaF.