Next month, engineers will meet in Chicago for the annual ACE conference. The theme will be "Uniting the World of Water" and, if you've been following this monthly newsletter for any time at all, you'll know by now how passionate I am about a sustainable water infrastructure, and not just here in the U.S.
Fact is, about 3.4 million people die each year from water-related diseases. The U.N. predicts that by 2025, about 1.8 billion people won't have access to enough drinking water. That's only 9 years away. Even here at home, the news increasingly contains stories of drinking water issues, pipe failures, polluted watercourses, etc.
Of course, part of the answer is investment in our infrastructure. But there's also hope that stems from our ability to overcome challenges through our intelligence and creativity. In the area of mitigating a future water crisis, much depends on the future of engineering itself. Let me give you just a couple of examples of what I'm talking about.
Engineers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have created a water filtration system that, for just $16 a year, can filter nanoparticles to provide potable water. This filter can remove contaminants down to the microbial and chemical levels. I can tell you from personal experience in Haiti that this sort of advance could be a global game changer.
On a different scale, engineers elsewhere are working to provide water professionals with sophisticated targeting and planning insights using big data. Their recommendations will help owners and operators of utilities allocate infrastructure resources to get the best bang for their limited bucks.
Irrigation is another area where the use of big data and technology could help alleviate food security problems. The future of our food supply itself will be dependent on the smart allocation of scarce water resources. Developments are already underway, for example, to help the $40 billion-plus agricultural sector in California.
I firmly believe that engineers will be the real heroes of the future, as they find ways to solve the many challenges we face as a society, not least being the protection of our water resources. It's an exciting prospect, and one that I hope to hear about at the ACE16 conference in the Windy City.
See you there,
P.S. Of course, there are engineering heroes among us today. I'd like to share my latest Flowtite® case study with you, to show the results of sound engineering thinking at work on the massive Paradise Whitney Interceptor project in Las Vegas. It's a quick read, and you can download it here. Maybe it'll give you some ideas.