The Earth is covered in 70% water, however, at the rate that we are using water combined with climate change, there have been many occurrences of drought all over the world. Many environmentalists and companies (like IBM) have begun to stress the importance of decreasing our water footprint and creating new technology that can fully utilize the 70% of Earth’s water.
While many people have cut back on electricity use, water usage is still very high. In fact, in the US, we consume twice the world average in water [Source: Treehugger]. While more people are becoming aware of their water footprint, companies like IBM have already begun to boost technology for better water management. Scientists at IBM, partnered with Water Innovations Alliance, have created a new desalination-membrane technology that removes aresenic and boron salt from polluted groundwater by putting a polymer designed for immersive lithography into membranes that reject the toxic salts.
Though the advancement in creating clean drinking water is a major step, creating a smart water grid is on the forefrunt of IBM’s mission statement. Peter Williams, CTO of IBM Big Green Innovations said “To achieve our goal of improving water management, we need to collaborate on sensing and monitoring infrastructures for water resources, a common system for measurement, evaluation and reporting, as well as common standards. If we come up with an effective IT management system that leverages the current infrastructure, filtration, and treatment technologies, we could realize significant annual water savings” [Source: Reuters] roughly 30% to 50% of the water used each year [Source: Water & Wastes Digest]. One of the simplest methods that IBM focuses on is showing people how much water they are consuming. By taking a cue from electric companies, IBM believes that by showing people how much water they use, they will curb their consumption. In fact, studies show that people have curbed their electric consumption by 15% with this method [Source: Treehugger]. Why shouldn’t it be the same for water? Smart water grid is currently a $530 million market and offers a business a wide range of ways to get involved from water mapping to smart irrigation. IBM believes that in ten years, this could become a $20 billion business [Source: Business Insider].
Water, one of the most abundant natural resources in the world, is slowly drying up around the earth. While the US has decreased it’s overall water usage, individual homes, in fact, have increased how much water they use. IBM along with many other companies have taken a step in the right direction by pushing for better IT management and also showing regular people the truth about their water consumption.