Water quality is not just a developing country issue

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Pollution of America’s drinking water is in the news again. 15 years ago, when I saw the Oscar-winning Erin Brokovich, it opened my eyes to the horror of industrial water pollution in the developed world. Continue reading

Using the power of Big Data

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Everywhere you look, you find data. There is data from invoices, storage records and delivery records. There is data from millions of machines: sensors, meters, smartphones, CC TV cameras, industrial machines and endless gizmos. Then there is social data coming from Facebook likes, tweets, youtube views and more. There is data about data. As the world gets “smarter” with more collection of data, it is also getting more cluttered. Continue reading

Cleaning the Ganga is not about just cleaning the Ganga

http://www.niticentral.com/2014/08/29/cleaning-ganga-an-environmental-cultural-need-236845.html

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Living with floods in a warming world

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As cities expand to swallow entire floodplains and coastal areas, often extending even beyond the boundaries of land to reclaim thousands of acres of waters from nature, they are becoming more vulnerable to climate change. Continue reading

Keep the baby, throw the bathwater

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A 16th century idiom “throwing the baby out with the bath water” leaps up in front of me ever so visually during my interactions with people these days. Whether it is nuclear power generation or capital punishment or religion, I wonder why entire concepts are considered flawed because they did not work sometimes. A number of media-hyped failures or mistakes lead to wholesale rejection of an idea or solution. People do not bother to see the whole as composed of parts and to see which part has failed. Puerile, uninformed discussions are held at meetings in the real and virtual space without considering all the facts. Continue reading

The Bill of Confusion

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A look at the utility invoices sent out to consumers in many cities makes it clear why water is an under-valued resource. The unclear language and confusing acronyms do nothing to educate or inform. Some invoices do not even specify whether they use actual readings or estimates. These pieces of paper seem to be designed to negatively impact the consumers’ trust in the water quality and their willingness to pay. Continue reading

The debates drag on

At the recent World Water Forum in Istanbul, it was good to hear some new topics being discussed such as the energy-water linkage, the need for water-related data and the impact of the financial crisis on the water sector.

But one set of debates that never seem to go away are the ‘Is water a human right?’ debate which leads to the ‘Shouldn’t water be free?’ debate which opens the floodgates for “Should water be managed by the public or private sector?” debate. Continue reading