By Lee Jackson
As water travels through and across a watershed, its quantity and quality changes dramatically based on human activities and the things – usually chemicals – that we add to it.
Understanding the increasing pressures on watersheds has been the work of the Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) and IBM Alberta Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS). The partnership, which just celebrated its 10 anniversary, brings together the latest data tools to tackle one of the biggest challenges in managing water – ensuring that people across the watershed have a fuller understanding of what is taking place. Continue Reading »
By Laurent Auguste
With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas, cities have proven to have the winning model.
But the massive influx into cities leads to higher population densities, greater complexities and increased pressures on local resources, such as water.
In the future, successful cities will be those that have created local and global access to Big Data as sources of new game-changing dynamics. New city models will turn the passive pipes of city infrastructure into active ones, transcending their current use and freeing up yet untapped value.
One year ago, IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Fund for Lake George announced the Jefferson Project, an ambitious effort to model the entire lake – its depths and shoreline – to get a holistic and accurate view of everything happening in and around one of the United State’s pristine lakes.
The goals of the project are multifold and include understanding and managing the complex factors impacting the lake, from invasive species, pollution, and other factors, to developing a template to use in other fresh water bodies around the globe. Continue Reading »
By Kala Fleming
On the tiny island of Antigua where I grew up we always had enough water. We never had to call a water truck and to our knowledge, no one ever got sick from drinking the water in its natural state. The ‘natural’ state of water on Antigua is straight to the downpipe from the roof and into a concrete tank in the ground under each house. Community ponds also captured extra rainfall that others used for watering animals and washing cars.
Rainwater harvesting in the Caribbean provides a more reliable source of supply than piped systems and the geology of the region limits the availability of ground water. In the Virgin Islands, building regulations even require all new houses to harvest rainwater. So, in places such as urban Africa where ensuring water security has become increasingly tricky, why has this approach not caught on? Continue Reading »
By Sean McKenna, PhD.
In heavily populated regions of the world, the available water is fully subscribed. That is, claims have been made on all the available water for different uses including recreation, drinking water supply, industry, agriculture, and energy production.
As global energy consumption continues to rise (estimated 56 percent growth between 2010 and 2040 – US Energy Information Administration, 2013), additional water will be needed to increase energy production.
Finding water that is not already claimed is becoming difficult. However additional efficiencies can be obtained through improved management of the existing water resource. Generating energy through less water intensive means is another approach, but even Solar PV and wind turbines require water to mine and manufacture the materials that comprise them. Continue Reading »
By Phil Guido
Conventional wisdom tells us that cities and regions that face a shortage of a resource will likely be the most innovative out of necessity in conserving it. Apparently the leaders of Milwaukee don’t prescribe to this reactive thinking.
Milwaukee, which is situated on one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, Lake Michigan, decided a few years ago to use its abundance of water to invest in becoming an innovation hub for it.
After only a few years, Milwaukee’s investments are paying off. Nearly 200 water-related businesses have joined together through a brand new industry, academic and government collaborative called the Global Water Center whose function is to be a source for leading edge water technology and solutions. Continue Reading »
By Jasper Schroder & John Cohn
Around the world, more than 20 terabytes of weather data is generated every day. If we could use all of this data to build more precise, accurate weather forecasts, we could dramatically improve the way cities and businesses plan for and manage through storms, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and more.
Yet in Africa – a vast continent with widely varying weather conditions – there is a relatively low density of weather stations collecting climate data, leaving scientists without the information they need to build this kind of advanced forecast. Continue Reading »
By Rich Hume
With 20 percent of its land below sea level and more than half of the country vulnerable to flooding, The Netherlands depends on a vast network of dykes and sluices to hold back and divert sea, river and rain water. For most of the past 500 years, the ever-evolving system has done its job admirably. (An exception came in 1953, with flooding that caused the deaths of 1800 people.) Yet global warming and the threat of rising sea levels but also more droughts means the Dutch can’t rest on their laurels. So the government is launching an innovative collaboration aimed at harnessing big data to improve management of the water system while restraining cost increases. Continue Reading »
By Eoin Lane
People often say that water is the new oil, but really, it’s not. Oil is a fossil fuel that takes millions of years and a lot of pressure to create. When we burn oil – for example, by driving our cars – it is gone forever (or at least for a few more millions of years before it can be created again!).
Water, on the other hand, cannot be created or destroyed (this is not strictly true, but bear with me). The same amount of water is around today that was around when the Earth was formed. The truth is there is a lot of water on Earth – just not a lot of drinking water. Continue Reading »
By Ahmed Simjee
When I was growing up in South Africa, my family was fortunate. We had access to fresh drinking water. At first we lived on a small farm near Johannesburg, where we used a well. Later, when I moved closer to the city, I had good tap water. But many of my fellow South Africans weren’t so lucky, and, even today, many people in the rural areas and in informal settlements near the cities don’t have ready access to fresh drinking water. That’s why I’m extremely pleased to be spearheading an initiative in South Africa, WaterWatchers, which is aimed at using mobile phones and crowdsourcing to cut down on leaks and wasted water.
We’re launching our free WaterWatchers app today in Gauteng Province, home of Johannesburg and the capital city, Tshwane. With 12.3 million residents, the province represents 23% of South Africa’s population. We timed the launch to coincide with the United Nations’ World Water Day. If you’re in South Africa, please download the app. Continue Reading »