Technology Seminar

Water 4.0: Waves of the Future

Water 1.0 was the early Roman aqueducts, fountains, and sewers that made dense urban living feasible, the development of drinking water and sewage treatment systems marks the second and third revolutions in urban water. Yet much remains to be done. Water systems nationwide are aging even as cities continue to grow. Pipes dating to the 19th century occasionally burst. As for water treatment, utilities now must be on the lookout for endocrine disruptors, toxic metals and even little-known chemicals. Systems that combine wastewater and storm-water drainage remain in widespread use, leading to overflow during storms. But these underappreciated marvels of engineering face an array of challenges that cannot be solved without a fundamental change to our relationship with water.