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🌐 "The Cultural Implications of Innovations in Water"

Water Foresight Podcast

Photo by Photoholgic / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Matthew Klein
Guest: Cristina Ahmadpour | President | Isle Utilities
Category: 🌐 Digital

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:58] “I think in any sort of adoption of technology, there's a lot of advantages and of course, there are considerations or concerns. For our water industry, I think, more of a challenge […] is, there are just so many solutions out there. […] And so I think the challenge is really just about focus and alignment and ultimately connecting the right solutions to the right challenges or opportunities. […] It's more of the process and the social aspect […] and how we frame the need and opportunity for technology and how we ultimately embrace it.”

[4:18] “Leadership is a big component in being able to drive what can be done with technology. […] I am sure the ideology of the leader and their values and their experiences, which might be influenced by […] where they're based in the world very much could have an influence on that. […] In Europe, there's somewhat of a different approach to the US, Australia is somewhat different to the US. I also think […] outside of social, policy has a lot of influence and social influences policy as well. So it's all […] interconnected with one another.”

[6:32] “Cultural differences […] influence how water and sanitation is managed and the initiatives and the boldness. […] An example [is] in Australia, the state of Victoria […] has been aggressive in pushing policy around carbon neutrality. And so there is a policy in which municipalities need to aim for carbon neutrality […] by 2030. And so the city of Melbourne, as an example, they're aggressively pursuing energy recovery from their wastewater facilities, they're aggressively pursuing […] an increase in energy efficiency. So a lot of that's being driven by a policy which is shaped by social and cultural aspects. It's not because the technology's there, […] it's more of the driving force that puts it into practice.”

[12:24] “Federal funding is [in the water infrastructure] so low compared to other services. […] But the thing that I think we as an industry need to do a better job at, in the context of being innovative is just […] harnessing the best […] fit solutions. […] It's about what is the opportunity cost for not doing something? And we're not asking that question enough. And we're not considering that enough when we're investing in rehabbing wastewater treatment facilities or putting in […] thousands of miles of pipeline […] putting in a new disinfection system or a new chemical system. […] If we were to ask that question more, that would, I think, change how we approach projects. And I think that would frame […] innovation in a different way.”

[16:41] “There's a culture of […] continuous improvement within the water utility, […] they're heavily testing leak detection solutions as an example. […] In the conversation of non revenue water and managing, so basically treated water that is now in the pipe going to customers, […] the costs have been already incurred. And so every drop that can be captured or protected goes to their bottom line […]. They're looking at everything from the condition of the pipeline, […] like cracking, wall thickness, preventing main brakes, managing pressure, they're putting in seismic resistant pipes that can withstand […] potentially an earthquake. They're looking at best practices on flushing. So in drinking water, utilities have to flush their systems to get out any sedimentation […]. They have implemented an innovation that actually recycles the water, […] so no water is wasted.”

[20:13] “The customer needs to be a big part of how the water industry evolves. And in fact, I think, in the next 10-20 years, they'll be more influential than they ever have been .[…] Amazon […] has completely changed society, [and] if we think about how that's influenced our expectations, [we’ll] apply that into the water industry. So customers are going to want to know their at home usage, it's not just about the bill that they get. […] They're going to want to know more, what, where in my house am I using the most water? How can I be more efficient? […] How can I know what my water quality is? […] And maybe they won't get that [information] from the utility, maybe that will come from […] other consumer based solutions.”

[28:58] “[The innovation in the next] 10 years, I think a lot of it is going to be compliance driven: Water security, water availability. So we're seeing a lot of […] projects focused on reuse and nutrient management, […] rehabbing of […] basins, […] advanced treatment solutions. […] [In] 20 years, […] I think we're going to see more utilities incorporate non traditional sort of infrastructure to provide water and sanitation to their customers. [For example], in multi unit or high rise commercial, high dense urban areas, there may be smaller […] treatment facilities on site, reuse opportunities that ultimately are part of the water utilities portfolio. […] I think in the next 20 years, utilities are going to be on that journey to look at how they have a diverse water portfolio to be resilient in how they provide reliable drinking water and they're able to weather some of the uncertainties that may be presented due to shifts in populations [and] climate change.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Google | Spotify
🕰️ 33 min | 🗓️ 04/21/2021
✅ Time saved: 31 min