Capitalism vs communism in the US water sector

During the final panel discussion of last week's American Water Summit Underground Solutions boss Andy Seidel asked the audience the following controversial multiple choice question: "How would you characterise the water industry with regards to technology adoption?”

1) Faster than Ebola spreading through a Greek orgy

2) About right

3) Slower than a slug on a...

The antidote to bad business: some service revenues


I have just presented our fourth-quarter desalination market update to DesalData subscribers. Although the outlook for desal is very strong, 2014 has been a bloody year for plant suppliers. We expect the total capacity contracted in 2014 to be just 28% of what it was at the peak of the market in 2007. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is having a tough...

A better solution for water than a Danish invasion

Does the water industry create jobs? According to “National Economic & Labour Impacts of the Water Utility Sector”, published by the Value of Water Coalition last month, $1 million spent on water generates 16 jobs. This is “more jobs per $1 million than investments in military spending or personal income tax cuts”, the report claims.

It also...

Decentralised water: a pyramid scheme or the future?

Last week while I was in Washington, a World Bank economist made an unusual observation to me: “Water networks are like the pyramids. You just can’t build things like that any more because the labour costs are too high,” he said.

The Egyptians had access to slave labour, which usefully subsidised the cost of their great mausolea. These days, if you...

Stockholm Water Week with the woman in the turd suit

I have been in Stockholm for World Water Week. It is a good place to judge the direction of thought in the world outside the water business. The event is essentially an ideas market where academics and NGOs go to sell their thinking to the potential funders and the broader community of like-minded people who might offer affirmation of what they are doing.
The learning...

The tragedy of ISO’s new water footprinting standard

The International Standards Organisation published ISO 14046 last week outlining the principles, requirements and standards for measuring a water footprint. It is a brilliant but tragic document. It creates the definitive definition of a water footprint, but at the same time kills off the concept once and for all.

That said, ISO 14046 is still an important contribution...