The Water Industry Deserves Credit for Innovation
By Vincent Caprio

We hear our elected officials use the word “Innovation” daily in their speeches.  Have you noticed that you never hear a Governor, Senator or Congressman use the words Innovation and the Water Industry in the same sentence?  Innovation as defined by Webster’s dictionary is the following:

1: The introduction of something new
2: a new idea, method or device

During the last 5 years I have had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of presentations from engineers and scientists employed by GE, Veolia, American Water and United Water.  Here are a few presentations from the past year that emphasize Innovation and cite a variety of new methods and devices.

An interesting look at the evolution of technology in the water industry:
Terry E. Biederman, P.E., Global Industry Manager- Water, GE Intelligent Platforms

Leveraging Data to create a paradigm shift from Reactive to Proactive Utility Management:
Brent Fewell, VP, Environmental Compliance, United Water

Mobile + Data + Analytics = Future
Kyle Reissner, Senior Marketing Manager Automation Software, GE Intelligent Platforms

Why does the Water Industry not get recognition for Innovation?

Americans’ Understanding of Water Lifecycle and Solutions Falls behind Water Challenged Countries…

1) Americans take their access to water as a birthright. Water is the family member they have always had their entire life. 31% of Americans don’t know where their water comes from, compared to only 14% of those in China and 15% of those in Singapore.

2) Most Americans take their water supply for granted and with their lack of science do not have the skill set to understand a water system. The Water Industry is under the radar and is very effective in solving their problems. 42% of Americans don’t know how their water is purified, compared to only 17% of those in China and 19%of those in Singapore.

3) Americans have a lack of understanding of science, emerging technologies and innovation breakthroughs. Americans in the 1980s began to equate Information Technology (formerly known as Data Processing or Management Information Systems) as America’s leading technology. The 1980s Information Technology revolution led to the 21st century Consumer Electronics revolution.  Today, Americans’ perception of innovation is an application for a smart phone or a tablet.

I have always enjoyed the following quote from Peter Drucker, Management Consultant. It sums up my thoughts in regard to Innovation. “Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or a different service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced. Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation, the changes and their symptoms that indicate opportunities for successful innovation.”

The Water Industry should be proud of the thousands of innovative products they have created during the last 20 years. Remember to tell your friends and family what we have achieved. We are Innovation.