Historic water technology forum brings key leaders in water sector together
H2O partner Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s, Dr. Rudolph Rosen co-chaired the organizing committee for the Texas Water Technology Roadmap Forum.
Quoting from the water technology forum report:
By invitation only, the Forum brought key thought leaders from Texas’ water sectors together. Participants came from throughout Texas, representing business, industry, government, academia, investment, and research. A network of 12 Texas university and independent research institutes funded by the National Science Foundation, called RCN-CE3SAR, served as an unbiased independent facilitator of the forum.
A consensus emerged through discussion that Texas is rapidly approaching a water crisis reflecting issues of supply, use and quality which demands immediate effort to ensure sustainable and equitable access. Participants described critical problems in Texas’ water sectors and expressed concern over consequences to Texans and the Texas economy if action is delayed. Participants focused on a pathway to help solve Texas’ water problems and speed water technology from lab, to market, to application.
Participants described fragmentation in the water sectors and a dysfunctional system for water technology innovation. Lack of adequate investment, with investors misunderstanding the current market environment, including inadequate and inaccurate valuing of water as a commodity, was among top observations. The key challenge for bringing technology to market was described as reducing the length of time it takes to bring technology from lab to application. A high degree of regulation, not just over public safety concerns, but also across acquisition and supply chain management was felt to obstruct bringing innovative technology to market. Participants called for regulatory relief, industry standards, and accelerated research, development, demonstration, and deployment of new technology facilitated by technology-specific demonstrations. Participants also expressed need for enhanced public and consumer education about water scarcity, values of water, and water use and reliability, including providing insight on the age and condition of water infrastructure.
Participants called for enhancing access to data, and increasing data quality and quantity. They suggested a trusted clearing house or virtual network for connecting with data housed at Texas’ water institutes. Universities were described as best able to support such a service. Need for continued development and implementation of water-smart technologies and education programs to reduce water use were emphasized. Water reuse should be expanded and supported. New markets for water residuals should be created, such as for saline and gray waters, and water processing byproducts.
Participants identified actions to take now to support water technology development:
- develop a cyberinfrastructure for information sharing,
- provide water technology demonstration and pilot project test beds,
- inventory water technology assets, and
- map water technologies.
Failing to act now could have dire economic impacts to Texans through increased costs of water affecting the economy, loss of fresh water in some areas, affects on public health, civil unrest caused by disparities in access to and cost of water, adverse environmental impacts, and reduction of food production.
Participants felt that with action now Texans can have a sustainable supply of safe water for all uses, including to support future growth in population and the economy.