Photo via Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr CC
Electricity gets all the attention when it comes to the smart grid, but not to be ignored is also what a smart grid can do for water consumption. Americans consume twice the world average in water, massive amounts are wasted in households, manufacturing, agriculture, and landscaping - massive amounts that could be conserved through proper monitoring and accounting. Luckily, water footprints are getting increased attention, and a water grid is being zeroed in on by businesses such as IBM who is working on boosting technology behind everything from high tech water pollution sensing to water footprint accounting. . In fact, the water grid could be the next big business concept, set to be a $16.3 billion dollar industry in the next 10 years. A new report from Lux Research points out that water management can reduce costs, and conserve a resource that we're quickly running out of. Studies have shown that just by seeing one's electricity consumption data, people will curb consumption by as much as 15%. Why not the same with water consumption as well? The issue is developing the technologies and creating a smart water grid. And that is where money on water is saved, and money on business is made.
Currently a $530 million market, according to Lux, the smart water grid, like the smart electricity grid, offers a wide range of ways to businesses to get involved, including water mapping, water infrastructure, water quality monitoring, smart meters, and smart irrigation.
"While there are physical solutions or lower-tech options available to help solve the hydrocosm's water management woes, the scale of water needs and the lack of funds for a complete overhaul of the physical infrastructure also call for the deployment of emerging information technology solutions to address these areas."
Earth2Tech reports that the start-ups who find success in this industry will be those maximizing innovation, and those who create technologies that address all five of the markets identified by Lux in an integrated way.
As Drew Clark, IBM's Venture Capital Group Director of Strategy, told us earlier this year, demand for smart water solutions has dramatically increased in the last year - partly because of the Obama administration's focus on environmental concerns, partly because the stimulus package is providing help with getting opportunities going, and partly because of heightened environmental awareness in general - so the time is ripe for creative start-ups as well as established technology companies to move forward on the smart water grid.
While overall, US water consumption has declined thanks to improvements in irrigation efficiency and the elimination of once-through cooling technology in electricity plants, we have a long way to go before we reach sustainable consumption levels in all other areas. And both here at home and globally, the resource is running out.
More on Smart Water Management
'Another Water Management is Possible': Day 6 at the World Water Forum
Companies Should Conserve Water and Disclose Water Use Says New Report by Pacific Institute
EPA Report Looks at Managing Water Supplies in a Warming World
Water Management in Spain Goes Digital