Solving Water Scarcity


Rob Renner, executive director of the Water Research Foundation, describes how utilities are taking a holistic approach to managing their communities’ water supply including water reuse, desalination, brackish desalination and other sources of water supply

The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.

Water Online Radio: One of the themes that we hear loud and clear is that water utilities are taking a much more holistic approach to managing their water supply. Give us your perspective on what that means and the impact it has.

Rob: As water treatment was developed over the last 100 - 150 years in the United States, water utilities were developed primarily to protect public health. Thousands of people died, and so the original viewpoint of the water utility was to get good quality water treated and protect public health. Nowadays that's changed.

Now utilities are saying wait a minute, there's a much more complex set of problems. We're having more problems getting water supply. People are looking at it holistically from the standpoint that if water is “wet”, we should be taking a look at “wet” as a water supply, and so utilities are looking at water reuse, desalination, brackish desalination, and things like that.

The utility and water communities are coming together to look at water as a single resource rather than separating it into ground water, service water, lake water, etc…

Water Online Radio: Is the industry as a whole moving that way?

Rob: It's a big deal. It's especially big in areas that are very short of water. In those areas as a utility manager, you have to look at a portfolio of supply.

El Paso, TX is a good example. They are using ground water. They are using water out of the Rio Grande as surface water. They are using reuse water, treating water from wastewater to then turn it into drinking water. They are also using brackish ground water that has to be desalted. All these different supplies come together into a portfolio to ensure that they have an adequate supply of water for their community…

Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.