The year ahead for water: Extreme decentralization, digital and hydration | GreenbizLast year at this time, I wrote in GreenBiz that the year ah...The year ahead for water: Extreme decentralization, digital and hydration | Greenbiz
Last year at this time, I wrote in GreenBiz that the year ahead for water could be viewed as the roaring 20s and as a period of creative destruction. As I reflect on 2021 and the year ahead, I am doubling down on this view with three trends that are proof points that water innovation is accelerating and disrupting the status quo.
1. Extreme decentralization is moving into your home
The move to diversify from centralized water and wastewater treatment systems has been underway for years. This is not to imply that centralized systems will be completely replaced. Instead, there are now alternatives for water supply and treatment.
The trend to provide options to centralized systems is accelerating with a recent move to technologies that can be viewed as "extreme decentralization," as outlined in this essay, "The Third Route: Using Extreme Decentralization to Create Resilient Urban Water Systems." The authors frame a complementary path to centralized systems that includes "household-based personalized water systems."
In my view, these personalized water systems include technologies for off-grid water supply systems (such as the panels from Source), home water reuse (including technologies from Hydraloop) and real-time water data information sources for quantity (Conservation Labs) and quality (Safespout).
Off-grid water supply, reuse and home water performance will be enabled by these real-time data digital technologies. View these technology categories as augmenting centralized water and wastewater treatment systems and delivering access to water where centralized systems are unavailable. An important initiative in this trend is the work of the 50 Litre Home Coalition, which has a vision to create abundance for water through the adoption of advanced water technology in the home.
2. Exponential technologies are taking off
Deloitte defines exponential technology as "innovations progressing at a pace with or exceeding Moore’s Law" that "evidence a renaissance of innovation, invention and discovery … [and] have the potential to positively affect billions of lives."
Xponential Works adds that "exponential technologies are those innovations that continue to advance exponentially, with disruptive economic and lifestyle effects."