New GreenBiz Report Proposes Bringing IT to Water Management

New GreenBiz Report Proposes Bringing IT to Water Management

Water, it is often said, will be the oil of the 21st century. With climate change and global economic growth, water is being used at rates never before seen.

With water being the only resource we can't live without, it's no surprise that companies and governments alike are developing strategies to manage water more wisely. In recent months, groups ranging from GE to Coca-Cola to Dow, as well as the country's governors have announced plans to make the most of our most precious resource.

Today, is pleased to present the first in our new GreenBiz Reports series of reports by thought leaders in the green business arena. We are kicking the series off with a paper from Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer of IBM's Big Green Innovations, entitled "Bringing Advanced Information Technology to Water Management."

The paper lays out the scope of the problems facing governments, water agencies, and utility companies as they address growing demand for water. Chief among them are providing water to meet this demand without harming the environment, maintaining the security of the water supply from contamination or tampering, updating an aging national water infrastructure, and managing the impacts of increasingly common extreme weather events.

"We believe that the role for more advanced information technology in improving water management decisions has never been more obvious," Williams explains in a podcast interview with managing editor Matthew Wheeland. "WaterOrg is about doing is bringing awareness to the water industry of exactly what advanced information technology is capable of doing, and it wants to do that in a particular way. It wants to do it by encouraging interagency collaboration around particular water resources."

Developing the kind of collaboration needed to manage water effectively is no small feat. The San Francisco Bay Area, as one example, falls under the jurisdiction of 25 different agencies at every level of government, seriously complicating the development of any kind of comprehensive plan to manage water issues efficiently.

To this end, IBM is proposing a new organization, currently known only by the temporary title of WaterOrg, which will bring together the many stakeholders to develop standards and best practices for using advances sensing and IT technology to manage water use, as well as educate legislators and policy makers on the benefits of these solutions.

IBM has recently been working on water management programs that hint at the possibilities behind WaterOrg. As Peter Williams explains in his podcast with GreenBiz Radio, IBM has been working on test programs to monitor a section of New York's Hudson River, to develop modeling solutions for some of the world's biggest rivers and their watersheds, and is developing a test levee in the Netherlands that will be able to sense and report when it is under stress and could possibly break.

With "Bringing Advanced Information Technology to Water Management," Williams and IBM hope to detail the scope of the problem and propose steps toward a solution.

You can download the entire report for free from Look for more research from and our sister sites in the coming weeks.