News | March 1, 2016

Technology Leaders Identify Imminent Threats To U.S. Water Security And Call For Comprehensive Strategy To Map A Secure Water Future For The Nation

San Francisco – A group of leading U.S. technology experts from across the corporate, government and academic sectors have issued a joint “call to action” to develop a comprehensive water innovation strategy for the United States. 

At the “Disruptive Resilience: Chief Technology Officers Map America’s 2030 Water Future” conference, a cross-section of diverse experts and Chief Technology Officers debated and deliberated how to best leverage breakthrough technology advances to transform how the nation’s water resources are managed in order to create a secure water future for the next century. 

This private gathering was convened by national leaders in the water sector including Felicia Marcus, Chair, California Water Resources Control Board; Harlan Kelly, Jr., General Manager, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Patrick Decker, President and CEO, Xylem Inc.; and Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, Vice Chair, the U.S. Water Partnership.  

Leading U.S. companies represented included: Google Inc., Black & Veatch, CDM Smith, The Dow Chemical Company, McWane, Inc., OSIsoft, Inc., Valmont Industries and many others. There were also financial sector organizations including Pegasus Capital Partners, XPV Water Partners, the Westly Group, and others.  

A recent National Climate Assessment report concluded that the United States will face growing water challenges related to aging infrastructure, water pollution, and climate change in the coming decades. Cities – which are projected to be the home to more than 364 million Americans by 2050 – will be increasingly vulnerable to water risks. Innovative technologies will be required to support growing demand, protect cities from floods and droughts, and protect the nation’s valuable water resources. 

Ms. Marcus said, “In California and nationwide, America’s communities face enormous challenges presented by droughts, floods, aging infrastructure, and the need to keep pace with updated science and growth – issues that will only intensify in the future. Technological innovation – and access to it – is essential to building the efficient and effective water systems we need now.”

Mr. Decker followed, “It is time for the United States to develop a long-term water strategy designed to accelerate research, drive commitments to action, and unlock funding for the investments and innovations we need to secure a sustainable and resilient future.”

The assembled experts recognized the importance of collaborative innovation across business, public and private research institutions and universities, and stressed that more coordination among these sectors will accelerate progress. Based on the discussion, the conference conveners outlined specific steps to restore and rebuild the water systems for our nation’s growing population in 2030 and beyond with the following call to action for national leaders, including those in Congress and the next Presidential Administration:

  • Establish a Presidential Commission to draft a water strategy for the United States, drawing on leaders from state and local governments, universities, citizen organizations and the private sector to engage experts in regional dialogues that will ensure broad perspectives and innovative solutions, including funding sources and innovative financing models;
  • Place technology innovation, commercialization and sustainability at the heart of this national water strategy, including increased support for basic research and development in technologies relevant to the nation’s water challenges; and
  • Engage the nation’s extended research and development community, including innovators based in universities, national laboratories, corporations, start-ups and venture capital firms, in the identification, development and dissemination of disruptive water technologies.

The U.S. Water Partnership will work with the conference conveners and other key stakeholders to further develop this call to action in support of the upcoming White House Water Summit in Washington, D.C., to take place on World Water Day (March 22, 2016).