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🗣️ "Accelerating First Adopters"

The Stream

Photo by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Will Sarni & Tom Freyberg
Guest: Nate Allen | Executive Director | WaterStart
Category: 🗣️ Opinion | Water Tech

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:31] “WaterStart is a not-for-profit. Our mission is to be a channel to accelerate the adoption and deployment of water technologies. We're a membership organization and our members deliver water to about 33 million people […] in the UK, Western United States, Australia. A big part of our focus is using our not-for-profit status to raise grant funds to co-fund the deployment of new technologies that solve really specific priorities that our members give us. […] We've now deployed 42 different technologies, and about 40% of those have turned into long term solutions.”

[4:02] “Broadly, we deploy technologies that we […] categorize as either making more safer, or cheaper water. So tech companies’ solutions that relate to leak detection and extending the resource, […] stuff related to conservation. […] We do a lot of things related to IoT monitoring, as well as […] looking at making our members able to be more resilient. And we've now spent, [about] $3.5 million on pilot projects and we estimate that […] we've gotten at least a 10x back to our members from a financial standpoint.”

[10:00] “A big part of [industry’s] water consumption is evaporative cooling towers, which makes a lot of sense in terms of ESG reporting. Because you are going to defer energy consumption […] to pretty cheap water. […] But when you look at it from a water standpoint, evaporative cooling towers in most cities, in particular in the Southwest US, [are] second to turf in consumptive water use. […] It is really uncharted territory to figure out, how do we address these kinds of conflicts between national international ESG reporting, and hyper localized water supply issues.

[14:30] “The common narrative in the water innovation and sustainability environmental community is: Water is too cheap. That's why people waste it. […] And so to say, we look at solutions to make water cheaper. I mean it to be a bit […] provocative. […] And the last year of COVID inflation aside, the trend for the last 20 years has been that the cost of water has outpaced inflation and wage growth by more than double digits. And that's a real risk to people who are underserved, unsupported, historically marginalized communities. And that's supposed to be a part of ESG, but where is the accounting for that?”

[16:30] “There's a lot of conversation about access to clean drinking water in developing countries, there's a lot of conversations about the lead issue in not just Flint, but that gets a lot of a lot of headlines. I mean, that's just fraud. […] There is this gap in the discussion about affordable water that is this huge middle between, how do we address fraud and then how do we just build new infrastructure for people?

[34:14] “Many of our members are so big, and public, and for all the right reasons, have very strict rules to make sure that there's no […] fraud going on in who they do contracts with. But sometimes that does hold them back from being able to be responsive and take risks to try new things. And that's where our model [comes in], where we have funding in the bank, ready to deploy new things based on our members’ needs.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 39 min | 🗓️ 03/30/2022
✅ Time saved: 37 min

Additional Links:
Water Foundry