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🤖 "Advancing Water Technology Through Environmental Policy Making"

Solving Water

Photo by Tiffany Tertipes / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Amanda Holloway
Guest: Professor John Cronin | Founding Director | Blue CoLab in the Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information at Pace University
Category: 🤖 Technology & 🗳️ Policy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[3:20] “I came to the position I have now through the realization over the course of [my] work that many of our environmental problems, if not most of them, are going to be solved by innovation. You can’t stop pollution unless there is technology that treats pollution. You can’t protect people’s health from water pollution unless you can detect that pollution in a timely fashion. And from my point of view […] we haven’t paid enough attention to the role of technological innovation. My work at the Blue CoLab at Pace University involves training students in the technology and innovation systems of real-time water monitoring. […] However, my driver is policy.”

[12:04] “[Xylem and Blue CoLab] both subscribe to the same idea that people can and should know the quality of their water before they use it. As rudimentary as that sounds, it is something that the public does not think about, policy makers don’t think about. You’d be surprised how many engineers don’t think about it. Even though, when you get in your car, your car will tell you if your tires are a pound low and I could go online right now and tell you the weather on Mars, literally […]. But there is nobody who can tell you the quality of your water before you use it and the ramifications of that are profound.”

[12:44] “I believe that not just in the United States, but worldwide, we could prevent tens of millions of illnesses by giving people the ability and giving water systems and water utilities the ability to know the quality of water before it is delivered or before it runs out of the tap. And that of course is an entire marketplace for Xylem. […] This is the mission that our students wrap their arms around, […] this idea that they could be part of innovation that makes this possible for some of the most important water parameters for human health.”

[13:31] “Our interest […] is also to get this out into the marketplace and for there to be a market demand for it. The marketplace is the delivery system for innovation. But what prompts that innovation? And in the environmental space nothing drives innovation more than policies that essentially require it. We saw that with the Clean Water Act technology requirements for removing pollutants from industrial discharges. That technology […] parameter spurred innovation where now in the 21st century we are eliminating pollutants from industrial discharges that back in the 1970s we didn’t imagine possible. So the question then is: Why can’t we do this for detection? Why can’t we have the same technology policy driving innovation in detection of what’s in water before we use it? And the fact is that policy is not there. What our students are wrapping their arms around are both sides, the innovation side and the policy side. And one of the things we believe is that if we can prove the importance and viability of those innovations then we can also prove to policy makers and to a company like Xylem that it’s worth investing research and development and getting this research out there. But we need policy that drives it.”

[19:09] “There is any easy way of explaining right to know and anybody listening, who has walked into a supermarket, pulled a product off the shelf and looked at the ingredients before you purchased it. You were exercising your right to know. The law requires those ingredients to be there, so you can make an intelligent decision before you consume the product. […] That right to know has been embodied in law for a long time. The one place where it has not really made itself evident is in use of drinking water and recreational waters. It’s there conceptional. The EPA will tell you that the public has a right to know what’s in their water. But what’s missing? What’s missing is the technology that actually tells you so.”

[21:44] “Boiled water alerts are a common place in the United States. And in fact any public health person, who is involved in water will tell you that illnesses due to water contamination are endemic on the planet, in the developing world, in the developed world […]. 300 million children die from water related diseases every year. In the United States there are 20 million illnesses every year from pathogens in water and 90 million illnesses from pathogens in recreational water. But, what’s the issue here? The issue is that just one mouth full and you can get sick. […] So, the answer is, can you know, before you drink it? Can you know before you swim in it? And that’s a technological solution.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 46 min | 🗓️ 03/01/2021
✅ Time saved: 44 min

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