Water scarcity around the world is a continuing problem, especially as population increases. Seventy percent of water in the world is ocean-based and consists of saline. Only 2 percent of it is fresh. Some regions of the world flush with freshwater, while others have to go through laborious efforts or significant currency to obtain it. By 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in regions that face “absolute water scarcity,” according to the United Nations.
According to analyst firm Global Water Intelligence and the International Desalination Association, one factor includes desalination. Over the past five years, there has been a 57 percent increase in capacity turning to 19.8 billion gallons a day. “Growth in desalination is not linear, and it is tied to many other factors, including the cost of oil, prices of certain commodities and availability of financing,” said Patricia Burke, secretary general of IDA.
Global Water Intelligence reports that over the past three years, there are 10 major companies that have committed $84 billion to water efficiency and conservation.
Here are five companies that are working hard to reduce water scarcity:
1. American Water
This is the largest publicly traded utility in the United States. In 2013, it spent $1.9 million on research and development and about one-quarter of those funds went to outside research grants. Voorhees, a New Jersey based company, has invested $800 million to $1 billion to replace aging pumps and pipes as well as constructing new facilities.
CEO, Susan Story, said the company focuses its R&D on three main things: safety, supplying clean and affordable water and ensuring a “sustainable” supply.
2. Cambrian Innovation
This Boston-based company uses technology for reusing wastewater. Their approach is called EcoVolt. This innovation uses a bioelectric process to simultaneously treat water and generate biogas energy. A brewing company in California called Bear Republic is using this system to recycle and supply about 10 percent of its water requirements.
3. MillerCoors & Molson Coors
If a brewery should receive a sustainability award it should be MillerCoors. It takes this brewery an average of 3.48 barrels of water to brew one barrel of its beer. Most U.S. brewers use up to six barrels. MillerCoors is saving more than 1.1 billion gallons of water from 2011 to 2013.
A focus over the next 12 months is an anaerobic digestion system. This system is already used in five breweries in the United Kingdom, India and Central Europe. The company has committed $11.8 million to two additional installations as well as more biogas recovery projects.
This relatively new competitor in the water meter management industry is based in Yehud, Israel. This company offers monitoring and analytics as a cloud service and has recently accepted contracts in eight countries. With the success of a 12-month pilot with Unitywater in Australia, preventing an estimated 1 billion liters in water loss, the companies are expanding coverage of TakaDu’s monitoring system across a larger geographical area. The company will be working with FCC Aqualia in Spain, which operates more than 200 drinking water treatment plants in 17 countries.
“It’s not just about water loss, it goes way beyond that to reduce the cycles of fixing problems and increasingly data availability about the network,” said Amir Peleg, found and CEO of TakaDu.
A San Francisco based company is hitting two birds with one stone when it comes to renewable energy and desalination. WaterFX uses solar panels to remove the salt from drainage water from farms in California’s Central Valley. This 6,500-square-foot test facility can produce up to eight gallons per minute of pure water from the saline discharge. The goal of this system is to help farmers reduce the usage on municipal water facilities.
“We are dealing with an agricultural industry that for hundreds of years has gotten their technology in a certain way,” said Aaron Mandell, chairman and founder of WaterFX. “Our hurdle is to get people to accept a new approach, new notions of desalination.”