Guest Column | March 6, 2023

Innovative Water Management Techniques For A Sustainable Future

By Robert Brears


Exploring Themes to Address Water Scarcity and Pollution

Water scarcity and pollution are significant global issues that have become more pressing due to the growing population and climate change. Therefore, it is essential to implement new and innovative methods to manage water sustainably.

Our discussion will revolve around the most promising techniques, including water harvesting, desalination, water reuse, smart water management, and blue-green infrastructure (BGI). We will examine each of these themes and highlight their potential to transform the way we manage water.

By the end of this newsletter, you will have a comprehensive understanding of the most promising innovative water management techniques and how they can contribute to a sustainable future.

Water Harvesting

Water harvesting is the practice of collecting and storing rainwater for later use. This technique has been used for thousands of years, and modern technology has made it more efficient and scalable. There are several types of water harvesting systems, including rooftop rainwater collection, land-based catchment systems, and underground storage tanks. Water harvesting can provide a reliable source of water for households, farms, and industries and reduce reliance on groundwater and surface water sources. Read about Australia's stormwater harvesting project

Desalination With Renewable Energy

Desalination is the process of removing salt and other minerals from seawater or brackish water to make it suitable for human consumption and other uses. While desalination has been used for decades, recent innovations in technology have made it more energy-efficient and cost-effective. Integrating renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, into desalination plants can reduce carbon emissions, decrease reliance on fossil fuels, and increase the sustainability of the process. Read about Saudi Arabia's solar desalination plant

Water Reuse

Water reuse is the practice of treating and using wastewater for various purposes, such as irrigation, industrial processes, and toilet flushing. Recent innovations in technology have made it more efficient and safe. There are several types of water reuse systems, including membrane bioreactors, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet disinfection. Water reuse can reduce water consumption, wastewater discharge, and pollution and provide a reliable source of water for non-potable uses. Read about New York City scaling up water reuse systems

Smart Water Management

Smart water management uses advanced technologies, such as sensors, data analytics, and artificial intelligence, to optimize water use and reduce waste. Smart water management can help detect leaks, monitor water quality, forecast water demand, and provide real-time feedback to users. Smart water management can also enhance water conservation, reduce energy consumption, and enhance resilience to water-related risks. Read about smart water meters in Singapore and San Francisco

Blue-Green Infrastructure

BGI uses natural and engineered systems to manage water, such as wetlands, rain gardens, and green roofs. BGI can capture and treat stormwater, reduce flooding and erosion, and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services. BGI can also provide social and economic benefits, such as improving air quality, reducing urban heat island effects, and creating recreational spaces. Read about Los Angeles, New York City, Amsterdam, and Melbourne encouraging BGI on public and private property


Water-related challenges of the 21st century require innovative water management techniques to ensure a sustainable future. The techniques include water harvesting, desalination with renewable energy, water reuse, smart water management, and BGI, each of which has the potential to transform the way we manage water.

Robert Brears is the author of Financing Water Security and Green Growth (Forthcoming Oxford University Press) and an International Sectoral Expert (Water) Consultant with the UN's Green Climate Fund, established within the framework of the UNFCCC.