Mar 06, 2009

House Committee Discusses Smart Water Grid Plans

Speakers at March 4 hearing also highlighted need for coordinated water research programs

The House Science and Technology Committee discussed coordinating federal water research as well as the creation of a national smart water grid at a hearing March 4, according to E&E Daily.
Committee members discussed legislation introduced by committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) aimed at coordinating federal water research programs. Scientists, environmental advocates and industry stakeholders urged the committee to increase funding for water-saving innovations like the smart grid.
According to Mark Modzelewski, executive director of the Water Innovations Alliance, an industry association made up of corporations, investors, research centers and other stakeholders, an information technology-based grid system could help the U.S. save between 30% and 50% of the water used each year.
"It is vital that an effort be made to create and fund a water information technology initiative through partnership with the [information technology] industry," Modzelewski said. "A coordinated effort could result in a system being put in place in just a few years."
Christine Furstoss, general manager of technology for General Electric Co.'s water and process technologies, called a smart water grid a "wonderful idea." Furstoss noted that the technology to implement such a system does exist, although there would be challenges in developing adequate sensor technology and obtaining reliable data.
Other speakers at the hearing highlighted the need for a national water census and the need to coordinate research funding.
Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, suggested a national census with data on national water resources and use be done by the U.S. Geological Survey through a minimum $25 million allocation every 10 years.
University of California-Berkeley professor emeritus and water expert Henry Vaux noted that funding for water resources research has remained static since the mid-1970s, taking inflation into consideration. The annual federal investment in water resources research today is approximately $700 million.