‘Water, United’: Connecting key players to accelerate water action across the Colorado river basin

A new initiative aiming to unite multinationals, tech companies, and water utilities has been announced in the US. Microsoft, PepsiCo, leak sizing solution company FIDO Tech and Oldcastle Infrastructure have worked to develop the ‘Water, United’ initiative. Water Foundry and Atlantean Media will be responsible for this project management.

’Water United’ plans to unite the public and private sectors to accelerate water action across the Colorado river basin. Founder and CEO of Water Foundry Will Sarni said, “Overallocated and overstressed, the Colorado river basin is threatened by the ongoing impacts of climate change. Under current and projected conditions, the Colorado river basin is not able to meet the demands of its many users.” Estimated to support US$1.4tn in economic activity and 16 million jobs, the Colorado river provides water for more than 40 million people across seven Western states, including Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona and California.

The first project is planned to take place with the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD), a not-for-profit water utility that provides water to more than 1.7 million people. ‘Water, United’ follows an existing collaboration between Microsoft and FIDO Tech that is reducing water network losses through actionable artificial intelligence (AI). Launched in London, UK, the project expanded to Phoenix, Arizona and then Querétaro, Mexico.

In 2020, Microsoft announced that it would be working to become water positive by 2030. To get there, the organisation is focusing on five key pillars: reducing water use intensity, replenishing more water than it consumes, increasing access to water and sanitation services for people across the globe, driving innovation to scale water solutions, and advocating for effective water policy. Eliza Roberts, water lead at Microsoft, said, “To help replenish water sources and meet our 2030 water positive ambitions, we are focused on driving innovation to scale water solutions.”

The World Bank estimates that as a global average, 30% of the world’s piped water is lost before it reaches the customer, most of it due to leaks and theft. In developing nations, roughly 45 million m3 of water are lost daily, worth over $3bn/year.

“The LVVWD continually leverages new technologies and partnerships to improve water efficiency and enhance water system reliability,” added Doa Ross, LVVWD deputy general manager of engineering. “While our overall water system does not have significant water loss, some portions of our water system are approaching 50-60 years of service, and we are eager to utilise AI technology through this partnership to help ensure ageing infrastructure remains reliable.”

David Grant, senior director, global climate and water solutions at PepsiCo, said: “As part of PepsiCo Positive (pep+) agenda, we are aiming to be net water positive in our operations by 2030 and replenish more water than we use back into local supplies. To bring about long-term, positive change to at-risk watersheds, there needs to be a focus on scale, partnership, innovation and engagement from all stakeholders in each catchment. That is what ‘Water, United’ sets out to achieve.”

(Image: Water, United)