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Happy World Water Day

It seems rather auspicious that the first day of this blog is also World Water Day (thanks United Nations!).

Anyone who has done much traveling has probably found himself or herself with a new appreciation of being able to drink and wash with abundant clean water right from the tap. But on March 22nd, we are reminded of the 2.5 billion citizens of the world who do not have regular access to clean water and sanitation.

More and more academics are studying the intersection between water use and world trade. In the developed world, many of the products we use everyday represent a vast investment of clean water. I wrote about the consumer’s water footprint back in the fall of 2008.

The opportunities in clean water are like catnip these days for technology start-ups. One theme that I mentioned in this cleantech water piece is the tight coupling between water and energy resources. To get clean water requires energy – especially in places like the Middle East where water has to be desalinated. On the other hand, many schemes for renewable energy (think about growing crops for energy) require boatloads of water. Can we increase our supplies of energy and clean water at the same time or will one always come at the expense of the other?

Keep an eye out this week for announcements about companies that are making commitments to increase the world’s access to clean water. Nalco, a firm I featured in a cover story about water, has announced a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to develop best practices to protect and conserve water, and will provide financial support to the Global Water Roundtable.

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