Innovating Water Treatment

April 25, 2012  

In my latest American Express OPEN Forum article, I talked about how designing to handle the exception, not for the exception can improve efficiency and reduce costs, while increasing overall performance. [If you didn't read that article, please do so before proceeding]

When I first wrote that article, I included a potential use of this concept as a way of solving our clean water challenge.  But during editing it was cut, so I decided to include it here…

Our aging water infrastructure provides potable water to a large percentage of the houses in this country.  340 billion gallons of water are used every day in the United States; an average of 1,000 gallons per household per day.  Although less than 1% is actually used for human consumption, nearly all of the 340 billion gallons are treated for drinkability.  The other 99% is for industrial use, showers, toilets, swimming pools, lawns, and other functions where potable water is not needed.  Therefore, applying this principle, one solution would be to stop worrying about the aging water infrastructure, and instead provide bottled water for drinking.  Or maybe every house is retrofitted with a simple filtration system to handle only the water that requires treatment. 

I write this, not as the best solution, but just a different way of looking at the problem.  A one-size-fits-all approach to problem solving can work against us.  If we look at what is really needed, we will find some new solutions.

What other uses of this concept can you find?

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