Future-Proofing Water Operations with Technology

Since 2000, water costs in the United States have more than doubled, while federal funding for water infrastructure has continued to decrease — from $76 per person to only $11 per person. Today, state and local governments bear the burden of 96 percent of all public spending on water and wastewater utilities.

It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when I started a job in the rendering industry that the importance of sustainability and water conservation hit me. Growing up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin it was easy to find a love for water; it was all around.  Whether I was on the lake with friends, or walking through the woods and coming across a natural spring with irreplicable natural drinking water, the presence of water was something that I did not give much thought to.  

Fast-forward to 2000, while working on a DAF system for a private rendering plant, I watched as the water discharged from the process and was then sent to a small area outside the building.  There the dark gray foamy water was filled with fat, and other items (I would later learn what FOG meant in the water industry.) filled a small basin with probes and analyzers.  On the back end of this process, I witnessed the water discharging into a creek, just outside the rendering facilities operation.   I wondered where that water went from there (we didn’t have google maps to refer to back then).

A few years later, while working with a major supplier to the water/wastewater industry, Hach, I found a heightened passion for water and the industry responsible for keeping both our drinking water safe, and our lakes, rivers, and streams from being contaminated.  The public and private water utility personnel have a tremendous responsibility that is often overlooked.  We take for granted the turn of the faucet to gain access to water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.  We drive by lakes and rivers all the time and rarely if ever give thought to the pollutants being dumped and the people working to strip the water of these contaminants.

Today, the water industry is heading for an impasse. The people that have protected our resources and treated our drinking water, making it safe to use, have begun to retire, taking with them a multitude of knowledge built from decades of experience.   While this issue is not new within the past 5+ years, it is a growing problem coupled with poorly funded infrastructure.  While the government-funded solutions are beginning to tackle some of these issues, more needs to be done.

The most effective, efficient way forward is for water companies to begin to integrate technology into their daily operations. Technology exists that offsets the increasing needs of water organizations, including:

By integrating technology into their operations, water companies can stay ahead of their competitors, while increasing efficiency and circumventing the growing problem of a decreasing workforce.

For more information about how NarrativeWave can help your water operation, or to simply talk water operations, contact us.

George Garforth, PhD
George Garforth, PhD
Senior Director of Client and Data Engineering