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🤖 "Finding Innovative Solutions to Water Industry Challenges"

Water Smarts Podcast

Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Hosts: Bronson Mack & Crystal Zuelke
Guests: Dave Johnson | Deputy General Manager of Operations | SNWA &
Nate Allen | Executive Director | WaterStart
Category: 🤖 Technology

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:23] NA: “WaterStart’s mission is to accelerate the deployment and adoption of new water technologies. We were really established, because there is a need for the means to make it easier for water agencies like SNWA and other members of ours to try new things but do it in a way where the ratepayers don't have to assume all the costs and risks of deploying new technologies. And so we were set up back in 2015 and a core part of what we do [is] use our nonprofit status to raise funds that contribute to our members to help them actually do pilot projects. So we find really interesting new technologies to address nagging challenges in the water industry, we help try to get those solutions out, installed and proven to see whether they can resolve some of those significant challenges.”

[6:00] NA: “There's a lot of new technologies. All of us are negotiating those on a daily basis […], figuring out what artificial intelligence means […] and virtual reality and augmented reality. And there's lots of buzzwords that the water industry kind of gets inundated with suggesting that hey, you know, you guys should do this, too. It's complicated, when you're running a big water agency with a lot of people […] to decide how will those things really make it easier, more cost effective to deliver reliable water service to the ratepayers.”

[7:35] DJ: “Southern Nevada Water Authority provides water to 7 out of every 10 Nevadans. […] About 90% of our water comes from the Colorado River and as you know, we have been in drought for over 20 years. We only get […] 300,000 acre feet worth of water, which is the smallest of all the states that receive water off of the river. And so really, innovation has been woven into the fabric of our organization because we've had to be innovative because of the situation that we face.”

[8:16] “We noticed that there were a lot of water users and a lot of water utilities in the state of Nevada, that we're all trying to accomplish the same goal, to be able to actually achieve more using less water. And so we partnered with those other entities to help form WaterStart. And what they do for us has really helped to define what our challenges are, take a look and say what problems do we need to solve within the water authority to make that resource go that much farther to be able to operate more efficiently or effectively. And then once we determine what those priorities are, WaterStart helps us to go out there and look in the community and find out what innovations are what inventors are out there that may have a solution for us to be able to accomplish that. And then WaterStart provides funding to be able to come alongside that innovator or invention or innovative solution, and then helps us all the way through the implementation stage. So really, if you think about WaterStart, you can think about them in terms of really helping to accelerate the adoption of innovation.”

[23:40] NA: “If a pilot doesn't work out, the technologies, the companies still benefit, because WaterStart helps to coordinate feedback from our members to the company to help them improve as they go forward. […] We've now funded, with our members, 34 different pilot projects. And about a third of those have been successful, where our members have gone on after the pilot to keep using those technology solutions. Those pilots that are not successful, have also turned out to be really valuable for the tech companies. The majority of the time, when the technology company doesn't move ahead to a full deployment, it's because of work they need to do with their business and their service offerings rather than necessarily some specific technical ability that they have to add on to their solution.”

[30:50] DJ: “One of the things that WaterStart does that's really valuable to the water sector is to bring utilities together and define what those challenges are. Because I have found in my experience that the problems that we're trying to solve are really not all that different from many other communities. By being able to solve those challenges in a meaningful way, and then share that information really is beneficial to the overall water community. And as far as sharing that information, WaterStart has developed a channels platform, which […] will take a case study for each of the pilots that are performed, and it will share those with others that are in the WaterStart umbrella.”

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 38 min | 🗓️ 06/08/2021
✅ Time saved: 36 min