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The Soft Path for Water – Beyond the Dams, the Vats and the Pipes

Peter Gleick, one of the leading visionaries on the future of water, came to speak at the fourth Artemis Top 50 Fellows’ Forum last week. Gleick is the founder and President of the Pacific Institute, a policy think tank that has pioneered new approaches to water management.

For the last 30 years, the Pacific Institute has been developing new approaches to water policy in the face of scarcity and infrastructure breakdown. Existing water delivery has focused upon building the awe-inspiring infrastructure that has marked great feats of engineering like the Hoover Dam.  “Hard” water infrastructure has laid a byzantine network of pipes to supply water for every need. Historically, water management has meant finding water supplies to match those needs.

We are running out—of water and money for that monumental  “hard” infrastructure.  Year by year, the soft path is emerging as the key to the future of water.

Soft paths look at how we can readjust the demand for water rather than the supply. “The key is to look at the goal for each way that we use water.” Gleick explains, “If we look at what we want (demand) from different uses of water (supply), we can redefine how much water we need.”

Hard Core Soft Path
Centralized water management has been a major force for improved health over the last century.  Water officials have stuck to centralized water because they can supervise treatment directly.

Advanced water technology unlocks the potential for soft path.  Smart, onsite devices can tailor water treatment to the needs of each site.

The Artemis Top 50 competition is bringing together a host of solutions that provide safety with the massive efficiencies that soft path brings us.

With precise onsite disinfection and monitoring solutions ensure that water is safe.  Advanced water tech provides ways for water utilities to continue to monitor water safety and water use from remote control centers.

The Pacific Institute has just published “A Twenty-First Century US Water Policy,” which brings forward recommendations for a new federal water policy to confront national and global challenges.  More information is available at http://www.pacinst.org/us_water_policy/index.htm.



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