Report connects stormwater harvesting to ‘sustainability dividends’

Source: Arcadis U.S. Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo.

More than half of water utility leaders have yet to embrace innovation and risk missing out on important “sustainability dividends,” according to “Empowering Water Utility Innovation,” a new report released ahead of the American Water Works Association Annual Conference and Exposition, June 11-15 in Philadelphia.

Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, surveyed 423 utility professionals across 82 urban water utilities and discovered that only 40 percent engage innovation as a business practice. The report further points to stormwater harvesting, advanced metering and real-time system monitoring innovations as pathways to generating sustainability dividends—equating to greater revenue capture, improved demand management, waste reduction or increased asset longevity, to name a few.

Arcadis North America Delivery and Innovation Lead Jason Carter examines how innovation yields measurable return on investment while resulting in social, environmental and economic benefits; in turn, they strengthen a utility’s brand, bottom line and satisfaction ratings to ultimately improve customers’ quality of life. “By building a culture of creativity, investment, experimentation and incubation, utilities can deploy innovation to foster new approaches to serving customers, managing facilities and funding infrastructure improvements,” he observes. “Innovation enables utilities to effectively engage internal and external resources to continuously improve operations and increase value through system resiliency, efficiency and quality—the three elements of water sustainability.”

Posted here, “Empowering Water Utility Innovation” provides an eight-part framework for creating a culture of innovation by focusing on defining challenges that guide investment; engaging stakeholders in transformative programs; reaching out to external resources; and, communicating success. It builds on the Water Research Foundation and Water Environment & Reuse Foundation’s recent 190-page industry guidance manual, “Fostering Innovation Within Water Utilities,” for which Carter served as principal investigator.