Lindsay Kunkle writes:

A group of us from the Chapel Hill office went to a lecture at the University of North Carolina’s business school this week on the future of water. The speaker was Charles Fishman (author of The Big Thirst, as well as The Wal-Mart Effect). Mr. Fishman was quite engaging, and the clear implication of his talk was that our perceptions of water – that it is safe, free, and unlimited – are already out of date.

Some of the stories that he told about water issues, in the US and elsewhere, were alarming. A few highlights:

However, Fishman stresses there is no ‘global water crisis,’ but rather there are local and regional water problems—conserving water in North Carolina will not help India have more water (just as cleaning one’s plate every night as a child did not help feed starving children in Africa, no matter what parents said.

And despite the portents, Mr. Fishman was hopeful about the future of ‘smart water’. In the U.S., Las Vegas is the poster child as the ‘smartest water city.’ The city has enacted many laws to control water use and to increase the amount of water that can safely be recycled for continued use. For example, it is illegal to let sprinkler water hit the sidewalk; new homes aren’t permitted to have pretty green front lawns; and as a result, 94% of the city’s water can be be reused.

And there are implications for the future of how we manage water.

It happens that this is an area in which The Futures Company has already engaged with a wide range of clients, both commercial and in government. It’s clear that water needs to rise up the agenda of most businesses and organisations – wherever they are based.

The photograph of Lake Mead at the top of the post is from the Scripps Institute at UCSD, and is used here with thanks.

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