WEFTEC 2018, organized by the Water Environment Foundation, remains one of the leading conferences for access to water and water treatment. Although the event has a substantial focus on large scale municipal water and encompassing industries, it also looks at how water treatment and access to water will change in the future. During this year’s event in New Orleans, I monitored three areas regarding how the larger water ecosystem will continue to impact consumer and commercial water products.
Behind the many symptoms of water contamination that pervade the United States, there is the fact that the U.S. is facing a need for $384 billion in water infrastructure improvements before 2030, according to the EPA. WEFTEC brings together the organizations who will solve these problems at a municipal level, but where the funds will come from to support water systems across the U.S. remains a question for most of the country.
Riding the wave of both reducing the costs of water infrastructure and water conservation is the greywater trend. Greywater refers to ‘used’ water that can be repurposed for another need. Fundamentally and in practice, this concept is effective for our water needs and is already the reality of our water cycle and the entire circular economy in our existing water infrastructure.
Greywater is still facing public opinion issues, with an array of misconceptions surrounding the meaning of the term (e.g. “is sewage coming out of my kitchen tap?”). However, this trend is gaining popularity on the commercial and industrial side (i.e. the majority of municipal water consumption) and is helping companies create new applications.
As aging infrastructure potentially distributes contaminated water- and intentionally distributes greywater- more companies, technologies, and products are entering the market to move the onus of drinking water treatment from the municipal plant to the point-of-use. Today, consumers are more aware of what’s in their water and, therefore, are taking responsibility for obtaining safe water. As a result, the emergence of cost-effective treatment technologies that align with the flowrate, frequency of use, and localized purification needs has changed the question of “will these solutions exist?” to “what will these solutions look like?”
As the water industry moves towards new methods of treatment and distribution, the responsibilities of water purification will move further down the line- from utility-scale systems and municipalities to commercial and consumer products. When designing new products or appliances, consider how your customers think about water usage and purity, and then align it with purification solutions that meet their needs.