The Big Thirst, Charles Fishman – The Future of Water. December 14, 2011 (complete lecture)

good afternoon it is remarkable the power of free lunch in a university setting I know why you guys are here if a surgeon went to sleep in 1975 and woke up this morning a very talented surgeon say from Harvard Medical School I hope no one in this room would let that man or woman operate on them this morning the world of Medicine has changed far too dramatically and that person actually wouldn’t really understand what was going on in a modern operating the same is true for a computer programmer who went to sleep in 1975 even a truly remarkably innovative one and woke up this morning you would not let that person tackle your IT problems in a big university setting or probably even at your home network and the same is true of a newspaper editor certainly a telecommunications engineer even and an ad exec who had gone to sleep in 1975 and woke up this morning all of those industries have changed so dramatically that somebody who was both brilliant and current in 1975 really wouldn’t understand what was going on today however if somebody who ran a water system went to sleep in 1975 and woke up this morning you would have no qualms about letting them work the overnight shift at the Cambridge water facility because in fact the world of water hasn’t changed in the last 35 years it really hasn’t changed in the last 40 or 50 or 60 years in many ways the good news is that is about to change water is on the verge of undergoing the same kind of revolution in approach and thinking that the whole rest of the world has undergone and and I think that’s really really good news I am delighted to be at MIT a place I never could have gotten into when I was your age and I want to thank a particular Pat Flynn who has done yeoman service to get me here I’m actually here all the way from Mexico City which is where I now live with my family and and Jason J for arranging to bring me here I was in Boston this summer and had a great conversation with them and so I’m I’m delighted to be able to talk to you all there are lots of places I talk about water where people are genuinely interested in water there aren’t that many audiences that I can talk to who can have a dramatic impact on the way the world of water works and I think you all in this room in part because of the place you go to school or the place you work can have that kind of impact and and I think you will have an impact and so I hope I’ll leave you with a sense of how to do that today as Professor J said I am NOT a hydrologist I am NOT a geologist I am NOT a meteorologist a climatologist I am just a reporter I’ve spent the last four years traveling around the world trying to understand water my own journey began with bottled water is there any is there a single I see a commercial bottle of water right there there are a couple there are a couple I grew up in Miami Florida and we go home to visit my parents the grandparents the grandparents that is almost every year and we were staying in a hotel five years ago and there was a bottle of Fiji water in the room as we opened the door we had actually driven from Philadelphia to Miami so we’re a little worn out and my wife is a brilliant journalist in her own right she edited every paragraph of every page of my book she’s also the kind of woman who walks into a hotel room when there’s a bottle of Fiji water there she removes the tag that says this bottle is here for your drinking pleasure we will head $7 to your hotel bill if you drink it takes off the lid and drinks it without even thinking one bottle of water that cost more than a good 6-pack of beer is remarkable there’s a there’s a good margin on that I can tell you the business case on putting the fiji water in the room and we had never seen fiji water before show of hands who in the room does believe that fiji water comes from fiji so most of you don’t think fiji water comes from fiji well we’ve never heard of fiji water before my wife loved fiji water fiji water of course comes from fiji you can’t call it fiji water and say it comes from fiji if it doesn’t come from

fiji and I said I actually said to my wife do you think that water really comes from Fiji and where the hell is Fiji anyway some vague idea where Fiji is and I took the empty Fiji water bottle back to Philadelphia in our luggage I had after all paid $7 for it and it in our unsold house in Philadelphia it still sits on the windowsill in my office and when I got back to my desk I did a little research on Fiji it turns out that 53 percent of the people in Fiji do not have clean safe drinking water every day so it is easier for an MIT student to walk into a convenience store or somebody who lives in Orlando or Austin or Kansas City and get clean safe drinking water from Fiji than it is for the people in Fiji to get clean safe drinking water from Fiji and now for me sort of opened a door into this strange world of the business of bottled water I was forced to go to Fiji and see where Fiji water comes from if anybody ever forces you to go to Fiji you go ahead and go not go under by the way where is Fiji if you get in a plane in Boston you fly six hours at five hundred and fifty miles an hour to Los Angeles and turn left and fly eleven hours at five hundred fifty miles an hour that’s 17 hours at five hundred fifty miles an hour and look down there’s agent it is far away and the water comes all the way back to us from and so the question for me was how is the global economy that we so admire how has it come to provide Americans with a product they absolutely do not need bottled water from Fiji you can like it you can enjoy it you can find it entertaining you could take it to the best water you’ve ever drunk no one in America under any circumstances needs water from Fiji while the same global economy denies that product to the people who actually need it and have it in Fiji and so I I ended up writing a magazine story about where the business of bottled water had come from and the response to that story was was really extraordinary turned out people were quite curious about water and about the source of their water and so I I was inspired by my own journey into the into the world of bottled water not to write a book about bottled water but to write a book about the larger issues around water and so in the last four years I have stood at the bottom of a five hundred thousand gallon tank sewage treatment tank it was empty but it had only just been empty I said can I go down and stand at the bottom it’s the kind of moment when the wastewater treatment guys look at you like you’re really crazy Plano how often you get to stay at the bottom of a sewage treatment tank I spent a month in Australia a country that looks and feels just like the United States and where five out of the six major cities in the country have almost run out of water in the last ten years and they’ve had to remake their entire economy an economy that looks just like ours to accommodate less water availability I spent a month in India a place that has more than enough water and more than enough money and more than enough smart people to provide water to its people and yet where half the people in the country don’t have access to clean water every day and half the people in India is 660 million people twice the number of people in the US I wanted to see how you come to have a country where you have enough water and yet you don’t provide it to your peeper I’ve stood on the shores of Lake Mead the largest reservoir in the United States at a spot where just five years previously there was a hundred feet of water where I was standing and and and it’s fine here about that when you stand on dry land and look up and imagine a hundred feet of water missing from a lake that’s a hundred and ten miles long that’s a lot of water that has disappeared I visited the largest soup factory in the world the Campbell’s soup factory in napoleon ohio a single factory that uses as much water as a town of 55,000 people every day to see how they use water they use it in sort of fantastic fabulous ways I’ve been a visited the best fountain design company in the world the company responsible for the fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the largest fountain in the world which is in of course Dubai where where else would you have the largest fountain in the world because I wanted to spend time with people who thought about the

emotional impact of water 300 people at wet design all they do is think about water as an artistic medium as an expressive medium that was a wonderful three or four days I did the water walk with a group of women and girls from an Indian village out 4 kilometers to a well and back carrying water on my head because hundreds of millions of people get their water every day by carrying it it took me an hour I spilled half the water I was carrying and I was only carrying enough water to flush a US toilet once so carrying what I learned does carrying water is not a great way to get your water not a tremendous insight but very interesting I’ve experienced the cleanest water in the world I’m going to tell you the story of that water had an IBM microchip Factory in Burlington Vermont and I put my hands and what I think of as the dirtiest water in the world the Yamuna River is the river that flows through the heart of Delhi India it’s considered one of the sacred rivers of Delhi it makes up two-thirds of the flow of the Ganges when you get out on the Yamuna it is jet black and the can you can hire a guy to take you out on a wooden boat onto the onto the river and the entire surface is packed with little bubbles it kind of looks like a root beer river but it does not smell like root beer the bubbles are nothing the river is literally producing methane as it sits in its banks and the EPA standard for safe human contact with with water is 500 e coli in half a cup 500 e coli and four ounces the Yamuna has 10 million in coli in 4 ounces of water and people every hour of every day people bathe in it and wash their clothes in it interesting question are you making your clothes cleaner or dirtier by washing them in the Yamuna I came to the conclusion from my journey that some of the conventional wisdom that we hold dear about water is wrong first there is no global water crisis and framing water problems as the global water crisis akin to the global economic crisis or the global climate crisis is actually a mistake I think it discourages people it deactivates people all water problems are local there are a thousand serious water problems in the world but they’re not really connected to each other except Jia matically and that’s not bad news it’s good news only the people in the community having the water problem can solve that water problem and once they do no one can undo their solution so I think talking about a global water crisis which is often a well motivated attempt to energize people is actually very misleading and and accomplishes the wrong thing business is way ahead of ordinary citizens and governments in understanding that a new era of water scarcity is coming and business is a lot to try and both insulate themselves from that scarcity find ways to cope with it and also to invent the technologies and management techniques we all need to cope with that scarcity so I’m actually glad that business understands something that the rest of us don’t and that there are smart creative people working on it I don’t think we want to let business get too far ahead of the rest of us because we don’t want water in the control of corporations in the end but I’m glad there are creative people out there thinking about this and there are almost everywhere in the world you go water is free or essentially free free is clearly the wrong price for water I’m not going to talk a lot about that today but I think it’s something you all should plant in the back of your mind products that are free are poorly used they’re wasted people don’t think about them there’s no incentive to innovate as that is the guy at the Campbell Soup plant said when I proposed ten million rennet and ten million dollar renovation to the way we use water at the plant to save a hundred thousand dollars with the water I am last out of the executive office of the Campbells so free is the wrong price for water and in fact the poorest people in the world pay the heaviest price for free water because their free water is really poor quality and they often have to spend hours a day walking to get the free water we’d all be better off if we paid a little bit more for water and finally we have been living through a golden age of water that goes back almost exactly a hundred years to the first decade of the 1900s

and that golden age is over the golden age has been characterized by water that is unlimited safe and free we never think about turning on the tap we never think about how much water is gonna come out whether the water is gonna be there we love to grouse about the quality of our tap water but in fact in the u.s tap water is unthinkingly safe with very rare exceptions and in fact although most people don’t pay a water bill even your water bill is not for the water the water is free all you Public Utilities charge is the delivery charge and most water bills don’t even cover the cost to get the water to you that era where those three things will be true together unlimited safe and free I think is over we just don’t realize it yet you’ll have more than enough water to drink and more than enough water to wash our clothes and water our lawn but we will start using the right water for the right price hopefully twenty years from now we will not all be flushing our toilets with purified drinking water that’s not the right water at the right price for the right purpose we’re headed from an era of unlimited safe and free a kind of golden age to what I think of as an era of smart water and that’s what I want to tell you about today I want to tell you what the here of smart water looks like I want to I want to say sort of upfront there are three things I hope you guys will take from our conversation today and at the end I hope there’s plenty of questions and pushback the first is a sense of the energy and creativity that is coming to an arena that has had neither energy nor creativity for 40 or 50 years we are on the verge I think of a new water revolution the second is a sense of urgency about tackling water problems water problems are by and large solvable but you can’t solve them quickly you can’t solve the problems of a city in a week or a month or a year you have to change people’s habits and practices and that takes time so the sooner you get on it the sooner everything will be different five years from now and finally I hope you’ll take away a sense that you are literally the people sitting in this room can make a huge difference if this is something you care about this is an arena you can jump in and have a huge impact on quickly and I hope when you when you’re done here you will uh I like to I like to give people a little sense of water with numbers I’m a journalist so I’m a word guy but I think numbers have remarkable power and I always like to start with bottled water because that’s the arena where I got my start in the United States we consume 1 billion 250 million bottles of water a week 1.25 billion bottles of water a week for for every man woman and child in the country if you did not have your for last week somebody have a we spend at retail 21 billion dollars on bottled water a year we spend twenty nine billion dollars maintaining the entire water infrastructure of the country all the pipes pumps and treatment planning twenty-nine billion on the entire water infrastructure 21 billion on bottled water we spent almost as much on water delivered in crushable plastic bottle as we do on the entire water system so when people say there’s no money to take care of water infrastructure in the current political environment I say not only is there money we are actually already spending it on water just five hundred milliliters at a time just a dollar twenty nine at a time the cost of bad water in the world is extraordinary we hear this all the time I was sort of looking for a new way of understanding this it turns out that the equivalent of the National Science Foundation in India did a study two years ago and came to the conclusion that India spends two percent of gross domestic product treating diarrhea every year just from bad water in India 2 percent of gross domestic product is 30 billion dollars a year 400 million dollars a week just treating diarrhea India spends more on diarrhea than the total GDP of 95 of 180 countries in the world more treating diarrhea than the total economic output of Panama or Jordan or iced tea mind you in India there is not a single city those in the engineering who come from the engineering world are interested in engineering not a single city in the 35 largest cities in India that has water service more than an hour or two a day 22 hours of

in Mumbai and Delhi and Hyderabad and Bangalore no water service at all so the cost of bad water is extraordinary one of my favourite water statistics is statistic of my own invention I spent I also spent almost a month in Las Vegas trying to understand the water system in Las Vegas you can’t be in Las Vegas without noticing the golf courses there are more than 50 golf courses in Las Vegas so I decided to calculate the amount of water required to play a round of golf in Las Vegas every 18 holes of golf for every player in Las Vegas requires 2507 gallons of water every time a golfer steps to a tee every single time in Las Vegas 139 gallons of water have been used to prepare that hole for that golfer the golf course in Las Vegas use exactly the same amount of water in fact by law they’re limited as the Imperial Valley farmers use to grow our winter vegetables weather is changing water availability dramatically there’s plenty of debate in this country about climate change there is no debate about climate change in the places that are being dramatically affected by it we’re seeing a little bit of that this year in the u.s. of course Texas is having its driest year in recorded history in fact its driest year in 459 years according to the tree-ring record 1775 was apparently drier than the present year one state to the east of Texas the Mississippi River had the greatest flow in recorded human history this year a billion gallons a minute flowing down the Mississippi River so 300 miles are separating the wettest moment for part of the continent from the driest moment for part of the continent that’s a little bit of what climate change looks like one of the places I visited was Perth Australia Perth has seen its rainfall its average rainfall dropped 20 percent in the last 25 years it has seen the amount of water that flows into his reservoirs for 80% during that time so small changes in weather were apparently small changes in weather dramatically change the water available for human use birth was actually the first western-style city to almost run out of water that 80% dropped in water in the reservoirs precipitated an incredible crisis in first in the u.s we use more water in a day than we use oil in a year and we use more water in four days than the world uses of oil in a year and you can of course see the price of oil every 12 seconds on the screen on CNBC during the business day you never hear about the price where economic value of water at all there is some incredibly good news about water in the US which I which I actually wish every person in the country could could know and absorb we use less water today in 2011 than we used in 1980 we have doubled the size of the US economy from 6 trillion to 13 trillion dollars while actually reducing the total amount of why we use every day by about 10 percent so dramatic progress is possible we haven’t even made much headway on the shower and toilet front while doing that dramatic progress is possible and I think if we can do that there’s more progress we may hear but anywhere in the world progress is possible ok let me tell you three quick stories of what water innovation looks like what smart water looks like at least from my experience roaming around the world one of the places I went while I was in Australia was a little suburb called Salisbury which would be totally comfortable and familiar to anybody in the u.s. it looks just like the u.s suburb it seems brand-new mixed-use development schools sidewalks curb and gutter one of the legendary Australian companies going back 104 years is actually headquartered in Salisbury a place called Michelle wolf Australia is still the largest raiser of sheep in the world the largest producer of oil in the world this was the last year that’s true though China will pass Australia I think in 2012 there’s nine sheep for every peak for every person in Australia and wool comes off of sheep incredibly dirty this is one of the things I love about being a journalist I would never stumble into this kind of thing in my ordinary life just sheared wool turns out to be 55 percent wool and

45 percent plant debris dirt and sheep poop 45 percent dirt by weight the Sheep it turns out are not doing much showering out there in the outback so cleaning wool is in fact a business that’s the business of Michelle wool they take just sheared wool they wash it and they send it on in the process to the next step all they do is wash it and and it is with good reason called wool scoured wool scouring is really just two things water and dirty wool that’s the business and about six years ago the the men who run Michaele wool the Michaele brothers fifth generation of the family got nervous the drought in Australia was four or five years old they were worried that they were gonna be cut off from their water supply they used as much water every day as a thousand Australian families and they went to the statewide water utility in South Australia and they said we’re worried you’re gonna cut us off you don’t think dirty wool can compete with a hospital or a high-tech factory or a hotel in the centre of Adelaide and that what our utility said to them you are our largest non-farm customer you buy a million dollars in water a year we’re very happy with our relationship with you don’t you worry your little head about the water supply and the Michelle brothers work to their credit not satisfied with that they had actually something that they called and that I think is a wonderful phrase water anxiety what was going to happen if their water supply was cut off at exactly the same moment the town of Salisbury in which Michelle wolf sits was having a problem that faces a lot of US cities they were taking their stormwater and sending it directly into the Indian Ocean untreated and they were killing a swath of mangrove swamp along the coast and the federal government of Australia was about to start fining them they either had to clean their stormwater or pay the fines for doing the damage they were doing and and the stormwater guy and the water guy for Michelle wool the stormwater guy for Salisbury and the water guys when Michelle wool got together and they actually solved each other’s problems Michelle will put up a million dollars in capital and instead of taking stormwater and sending it into the ocean Salzburg took this the storm takes the stormwater and routes it through a series of 750 acres of wetland some natural some now man-made the water spends about 12 days flowing through the wetland there’s no there’s no other treatment there’s no man-made treatment no human treatment of any kind and it emerges from the wetlands more than clean enough to clean dirty well it happens if there’s a limestone aquifer underneath the town of Salisbury they take the clean water and store it in the aquifer underneath the town and then they supply it anybody who want the number one customer Michelle well they get all of the water they use for cleaning wool now from the purified storm water at 1/3 less than the cost of tap water so they’ve cut their costs dramatically there is a five year supply of water for the town stored underneath the town and there are customers lined up waiting to be plugged into this supply of purified storm water new subdivisions use it for flushing toilets and watering lawns people have triple pipe spigots all kinds of farmers use it because it’s cheaper than the public utility water Salisbury which had this which was facing this financial burden of taking care of its stormwater now sells its stormwater and makes a profit of a million and a half dollars a year so that to me is what smart water looks like those two people solve each other’s problems and helped each other be competitive in the wool business and generate revenue instead of costs on the town side and of course you’re not washing dirty wool in purified drinking water so that is also smart by the way the Mechele brothers were right the drought lasted long enough that they would definitely have had their access to drinking water dramatically limited if they had not sort of gone in a different direction for their water the only loser in that whole situation the south australia water utility which lost a million dollar a year customer by not paying attention so that’s one version of what smart water looks like at the other end of the economic spectrum is the IBM microchip plant in Burlington Vermont one of just two IBM microchip plants in the world some people may know computer chips require incredibly clean water to be manufactured they are built up of layers and layers and layers of circuits and the pathways on computer chips are now so fine they not only can’t be seen with the human eye or with

a microscope the pathways are narrower than the wavelengths of visible light they can’t be seen at all so if you’re gonna wash the layers between production processes you need stuff that is really clean you need water that has nothing in it but water even the tiniest viruses would be like a huge log across those pathways so inside the IBM microchip plant which is ninety acres under root there’s a separate factory that does nothing but make something called ultra pure water ultra pure water is water that starts out as tap water and ends up as the cleanest water in the universe twelve steps beyond reverse osmosis we think of reverse osmosis as sort of taking everything out of the water you take seawater put it through RO you get drinking water they take RO water and clean it twelve steps cleaner so that’s a very energy intensive and chemical intensive capital intensive process and the water guys ten years ago said boy the price of microchips is falling dramatic if we’re going to stay competitive as IBM in the chip business we need to find a way of helping our company do best maybe we could be more efficient with the water and so the first thing they did sort of IBM / MIT style they deployed a sensor network around the water factory they deployed 5,000 sensors that each gather a data point about water every second 300,000 data points about their water every minute millions and millions and millions of points of data about the water a day and they analyzed their water system they spend $11,000 on water a day between the water and the energy and they discovered all kinds of things about their water system just by asking the question how much do we use what pressure do we put it under what’s its temperature what’s the flow rate and over the course of 10 years they managed to reduce the amount of water the plant required by 30% while increasing production of chips 30% they increase the water productivity at the plant 80 percent they almost doubled it here’s an example what they did the water comes in from Lake Champlain to the plant cold and it has to be warmed up to go through this ultra pure process the ultra purification factory needs warm water and another part of the plant there are huge air conditioning chillers to cool water to provide cold air to the clean room where the chips are made no connection between the high-tech water manufacturing and the utility water at all these guys said well nobody take the Lake Champlain water send it to the air conditioning people it’s already cold they’ll use it and send it back to us warm we save on the cooling and we save on the warming they did 50 things like that in order to almost double their water productivity here’s what they discovered they say 750 thousand dollars on the water bill by teaching people to use the water more smartly they saved three million dollars on the energy and chemical and filtration bill for every dollar they reduced the water bill they reduce all of the ancillary costs four dollars incredibly powerful they actually went through and resized all their pumps after they reduced the amount of water they were using so that they use less electricity over time so that to me is also what smart water looks like that is so smart in fact that the IBM senior staff in Armonk took notice they were so impressed with what these guys are done that IBM now has a water division you can hire IBM to do for your university or your soup factory or your town just what IBM did for itself so that’s a great example to me of what smart water looks like all they did was measure right no technological breakthroughs necessary finally let us briefly visit the city of Las Vegas to sort of see what smart water looks like at a municipal level anybody who’s ever been to Las Vegas who have flown in you fly in over the over the desert if you look out the window as you approach Las Vegas it literally looks like Mars you cannot imagine that there’s going to be human habitation anywhere and then all of a sudden Las Vegas appears including the 50 golf courses it’s no illusion Las Vegas is actually the driest city in America of the 280 largest cities in the country Las Vegas is precipitation is 280 they get 4 and 1/2 inches of rain a year 19

days when there’s some kind of precipitation in Las Vegas every year 72 days when the temperature is over a hundred degrees those five times the number of days when it’s over 100 degrees as when it rains and occasionally snows for all of that Las Vegas for anybody who’s been there appears to be completely obsessed with water if you walk the legendary strip if if the whole place seems to be about water the southern end is a huge casino called Mandalay may you walk into Mandalay Bay with 30 story waterfalls flanking the entrance inside Mandalay Bay a 1.6 million gallon aquarium for sharks a shark aquarium one commit one casino up is a hotel called New York New York which reproduces New York Harbor at about a quarter scale including the East River the Statue of Liberty the Brooklyn Bridge and a fire boat shedding water 24 hours a day next to New York New York is the Bellagio which is famous for the fountain that sits out front 8 and a half acres of water 22 million gallons when the Bellagio fountain is running seventeen thousand gallons of water are floating in the air inside the Bellagio a two million gallon stage for the Cirque de Soleil show called oh the French word for water right next to the Bellagio the Mirage very old casino famous fourth heat volcano that sits in a lagoon out front right on the strip inside the Mirage a two and a half million gallon aquarium for Atlantic bottlenose dog there are in fact 8 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the Mirage 3 of them born in captivity which means there are three and landing bottlenose dolphins that are natives of Las Vegas Nevada let’s pause just for one moment and appreciate the Dolphins get two and a half million gallons of water the acrobats get two million and the Sharks are stuck with 1.6 million directly across from the Mirage is the Venetian a hotel built on the theme of being able to take a gondola ride in the canals of Venice as part of your hotel experience there are Venetian reproduction canals out front right on the strip in 100-degree heat and most remarkably of all there is a whole network of canals inside the Venetian that you can be gone to look around in by a gondolier it’s actually on the second floor of the casino and then my favorite was almost nobody ever sees there is actually an indoor artificial rainstorm on the strip inside the Planet Hollywood Casino once an hour it rains on the hour during the week on weekends for your pleasure it means every 30 minutes the Planet Hollywood Casino gets far more rain inside than this in a week then the city gets in a year so this is a kind of incredible display of water ostentatious ‘no swatter opulence in a city that should be obsessed with just the opposite how do you how do you reconcile that in fact between 1990 and 2009 the population of Las Vegas tripled in that 30 years the population triple the amount of water Las Vegas is permitted to take from Lake Mead is fixed in law and never change it was agreed upon in the 1930 and so although the population of the city tripled they got not one new gallon of water so how did they pull that off in fact I think you can make the argument that Las Vegas has become the most water smart city in the country here’s how they do it they have to have a brilliant water manager a woman named Patricia Mulroy and over 30 years she has she hasn’t asked people to take shorter showers she has literally changed the water culture of the entire city so they will pay you they pay homeowners $40,000 an acre to pull up their grass and replace it with desert landscape to reduce the amount of outdoor lawn watering they pay golf courses the same $40,000 an acre to remove unnecessary turf and and and replace it with desert landscaping there every golf course in Las Vegas of which I have made great fun has a water budget they are not permitted to exceed the water budgets and the water budgets are falling about 5% a year to force coffe course managers to figure out how to make better use of water Las Vegas specifies the kind of hose nozzle you can use to wash your car in long it’s a

turn on must automatically shut off you’re forbidden to let any watering any water for for watering landscaping fall on a sidewalk or a road and a paved surface of any kind and Las Vegas has a police force of 11 water cops who patrolled looking for violation and writing citations since 2000 front lawns in Las Vegas have been illegal you cannot build a house with a front lawn again to reduce the amount of water used watering outside in a place where it’s over 100 degrees 70 days a year and perhaps most importantly it is illegal to let a swimming pool or a hot tub drain into a storm sewer all water must be routed back into the sanitary sewers because Las Vegas recycles 94 percent of the water that hits a drain anywhere in the city they take all of the water used indoors clean it almost to drinking water standards tertiary treatment is what it’s called and they send it right back to Lake Mead that’s how you triple the size of your city without adding any new water they get one gallon of water credits with every gallon they treat and return to Lake Mead and they return about 15 60 percent of the water they use back to the reservoir so that’s how they can grow while while I’m not having any added water there is no city in America that even comes close to recycling ninety percent of its water and so that to me is what a water smart city looks like what is the impact in the average Las Vegas uses a hundred and ten gallons of water less now than twenty years ago they have reduced per person consumption 110 gallons a day which is just remarkable in fact between 2000 and 2011 the city grew 50 percent just in that 10 year period they don’t use anymore water today than they did in 2000 they have stabilized the amount of water the city so that’s what smart water also looks like at a municipal level and and I think the most important lesson from Las Vegas is those are the kinds of changes you have to make that affect behavior over time Patricia mole would looked at the city’s growth and water use in 1980 and said boy these curves are not going in the right direction how are we gonna change water habits permanently you can’t do that in a month or a week or a year but you can say what do we want our water used to look like five years from now and 15 years from now and what do we have to do to make that happen and that’s what they’ve done in in Las Vegas so the the aquariums and the fountains notwithstanding perception is not always reality and the most important lesson small changes in behavior add up over time I think the most important thing to take from these three examples from the wool company in the little town in Australia from the high-tech microchip plant in Vermont in the hands of IBM and from the city of Las Vegas is none of that none of that water none of that water behavior none of that smart water performance require any dramatic technological breakthrough no National Lab in fact in all of those cases people simply had to understand their water use and think about water differently and then begin to take action and I think that’s great news there is a lot of new water technology coming I I’ve spent some time with the people at a venture capital fund based in Toronto xpv capital the only venture capital fund in North America devoted to water they are following eight hundred water technology companies in North America most of them pretty small so there’s all kinds of new technology coming but we have made so little progress in water that just by measuring just by asking the question what do we use what do we spend on it how can we change our behavior you can make dramatic progress I want to leave you with two thoughts the first is and and not to dwell on this but the first is because you all go to MIT or associated with MIT you have a great opportunity you can ask any questions of anybody in the world and the chance is chances are you’ll get a phone call back or you’ll get an email back that’s a great tool and and you should keep that in mind as you go out into the world it’s a great opportunity and it also means you can be effective and you can have fun and not be frustrated simply because you don’t have access to what other people would like access to so use

your training and the fact that you go to this school to open whatever door you need to because you can have an impact that lots of people would like to be able to have and can finally I want to leave you with a thought about water that’s a little different than what I’ve talked about up to now part of the point of writing a book about water I decided a few months in was to try and restore a little bit of a sense of wonder about water itself I think we’ve lost any sense of appreciation for how remarkable a substance it is one small example of that that most people don’t realize all the water on Earth was delivered here when the planet was formed there is no new water being formed there’s no geologic process for making new water plants take water apart in photosynthesis we put it back together when we heat the plant but the water budget of the planet is closed all the water we’ve got is all the water we’ve ever had and it was all made in space so the guy with the little bottle of Poland spring right there all you people with water bottles that water is exactly the same as when it was delivered here 4.3 billion years ago that’s kind of amazing there’s nothing on earth that you use every day that looks just like it looked 4.3 billion years ago and water is water has a million little qualities that make it special in that way we have completely taken for granted not the least of them is water is fun we actually love water we all know what it feels like to stand under a hot shower at the end a long day or two leap into a swimming pool in the middle of August or to race into the waves of the ocean we all know what if you’d like to drink a glass of cold water after a run or a workout when only water will quench your thirst and so we we all have what I think of as a strong emotional relationship with water and a good relationship with water and I don’t think that’s beside the point we’re here sort of thinking about sustainability in the context of the Sloan School well I think that emotional connection is really really important we have no emotional connection to the idea of carbon credits carbon credits may be a great way of solving problems but we don’t have any connection to them we have no emotional connection to the idea of fossil fuel independence we clearly don’t have enough emotional connection to mortgage-backed securities or to our own checking accounts but we we love water and we appreciate water and that sense of connection to me is a great tool for helping people make good decisions about water and for driving an era of creativity about how we use it and how we sustain it into the future I appreciate that I hope you guys are gonna help drive in your up smart water thank you