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Water Conservation A Target for Utilities, Investors

water droplet2The notion that water is the next oil, in terms of global supply pressures, continues to gain prescience in light of steps to better manage water, as well as to profit by hoarding it.

Two examples come to bear in Texas.

The Lower Colorado River Authority, a utility that services central and south Texas, as well as controlling water discharges to municipal, agriculture and industrial users, is using software from IBM to monitor its assets. The software is geared to helping streamline maintenance and troubleshooting, in an effort to ensure that water continues to flow.

Also in Texas, oil and natural gas baron T. Boone Pickens has strengthened his position in water assets, but his efforts to manipulate a key watershed are causing critics to cry foul.

Pickens’ water holding company, Mesa Water, seeks to increase its rate of pumping water from its estimated 210,000 acre-feet of Ogallala Aquifer water rights. The company stands to make millions, but critics and conservationists want to limit pumping by Mesa Water and others in order to ensure water supplies over a longer period, reports the Texas Observer.

In drought-stricken Australia, IBM is working with Power and Water Corp. to identify and optimize water assets using geographic information system (GIS) technology, according to a press release.

The two will use technology and “smart” water management to keep track of assets such as pumping stations, their condition and maintenance history.

In Japan, IBM is providing software to Fukuoka Waterworks to increase the availability and quality of water supplies. The area served by Fukuoka Waterworks has scarce water supplies, so the software will be put to use at a seawater desalination plant that serves more than 2 million people, according to a press release.

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