Apr 20, 2011

AWWA Launches New Book on the Future of Water

Author discusses how future challenges will affect water use

The American Water Works Assn. (AWWA) announced today the publication of The Future of Water: A Startling Look Ahead. The book takes a serious look at how the world will soon value, use and access water.

Using his extensive experience in the water industry, Steve Maxwell presents likely scenarios for the broad trends that will have a significant impact on future water challenges worldwide: population, economics, energy, climate and pollution. He discusses how the actions of individuals, investors, water utilities, industries and nations can change the future of water.

Topics covered in The Future of Water include:

• The future of water use at home: He predicts that in the future, lawns will be smaller and may use a grass species that can live on common seawater. Clothes washers may use a cup of water per load or no water at all. Dishwashers may use bursts of steam-infused air and ultraviolet light to clean and sanitize dishes;

• The future of agricultural water use: Seventy percent to 80% of all water consumption on the planet goes into agriculture. The aquifers that supply that water are gradually drying up. As it becomes scarcer, water will inevitably cost more and drive up the prices of other products. As farmers become more innovative, packaging may soon say, “irrigated with natural rainfall, no fossil waters used;”

• The future of industrial water use: As its cost increases, water will become a far more critical input or decision factor in manufacturing and industry. Water will increasingly be considered a factor of production in the same way that labor, capital or energy cost inputs are today. Old industrial cities in the rainy northeast U.S. that have been shrinking may experience revitalization in the future as water-intensive industries move there;

• The future sources of water: The ocean represents an unlimited source of water for seacoast cities that can afford desalination. In the rest of the world, wastewater and storm water reuse may become commonplace to provide “new” sources of water for drinking, energy production, agriculture and industry; and

• The future of water storage: It is hard to overstate the role that dams have played in the economic development of the U.S., Maxwell contends. Now America is building few new dams and is tearing down many old dams. China and Africa are building dams with intensity, however. The book discusses the issue of the U.S. meeting its water storage needs with fewer dams, and what the new Chinese and African dams–some the biggest ever built–mean for the future of water.

The Future of Water is available in AWWA’s online bookstore at www.awwa.org, Amazon and Barnes & Noble bookstores.