Membranes also remove particles, DBP
precursors, and microbial contaminants
using fewer chemicals, which makes
treatment more environmentally friendly.
Further studies are providing guidance on
the design and operation of membrane
treatment plants, concentrate disposal,
and fouling of membranes.
Sustainable Water Supply
We need water for nearly every aspect of
our lives. Yet, we face a looming water
shortage. To meet this emerging challenge,
the Foundation funded critical research on
climate change, water conservation, and
Three years before An Inconvenient Truth
made “climate change” a household
word, the Foundation saw that warmer
temperatures posed a risk to the world's
water suppliers. That is why we selected
climate change as a Strategic Research
Initiative, calling for a research investment
of up to $1 million a year.
A warmer climate affects water quality
and quantity. Initially, the Foundation
gathered existing research on climate
change impacts and adaptation measures
to help utilities adjust to the possible
impacts of rising temperatures.
We are now developing decision support
systems and tools to help subscribers
address climate change impacts on water
availability, water quality, water demand,
and infrastructure. Given the need to
move quickly on this issue, we have
also created a separate Web site—www.
to provide subscribers and other
stakeholders with critical information
and timely climate change research.
Utilities must also be part of the solution
and limit their own carbon footprints. So
we are working with a coalition of water
utilities on effective methods to measure
and control greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservation and Leak Prevention
Utilities face a double-edged sword: when
customers conserve water, utility revenues
fall. We are guiding subscribers on pricing
strategies to help them preserve cash flow
while encouraging the careful use of water.
We also elevated water conservation from
a “nice to have” practice in water-short
areas to a “need to know” imperative
with nationwide benefits. Our research
has shown that conservation can be a
financially rewarding alternative to building
new reservoirs or tapping new supplies.
Now, we are analyzing conservation
programs nationwide to uncover best
practices, benefits, and barriers to success.
Our industry is also bringing the
conservation message home by preventing
water waste. U.S. water utilities lose an
estimated 6 billion gallons of water a
day—enough to supply the nation’s 10
largest cities—from leakage, according to
the USGS. Poor accounting practices lead to
unbilled water and additional lost revenue.
In addition to the loss of precious resources,
this costs utilities more than $400 billion
annually in excess water production costs
and uncaptured revenue.
Our studies help subscribers evaluate
and control water loss, one of the most
cost-effective ways utilities can capture
Reducing Energy Use
Massive amounts of energy are used
to transport and deliver water. Equally,