Establishing a National Water Technology Pipeline

Author: Marc Santos


The next administration should establish a National Water Technology Pipeline (Pipeline) to spur the innovation and commercialization of water technologies. The Pipeline should be designed to:

(1) Proactively deploy monitoring and treatment technologies nationwide to avoid the devastating societal impacts of water contaminants.

(2) End significant sanitary sewer overflows that pose risks to human and environmental health.

(3) Ensure that every community in America has access to affordable and safe drinking water.

A National Water Technology Pipeline would mobilize American entrepreneurs and manufacturers to develop the next generation of solutions in water treatment, monitoring, and data management. The Pipeline would facilitate commercialization of later-stage water technologies by identifying innovative next-to-market technologies, proving technology through competitive demonstration projects, and deploying market-ready technology at full scale with federal funding support. An underlying objective of the Pipeline would be to improve water quality and access in the United States while addressing mounting infrastructure and maintenance costs. The Pipeline would also place an emphasis on training the next generation of technology-focused water professionals and strengthening community engagement and customer service.

Modernizing the water sector will require the federal government to renew its commitment to investing in water. The water sector currently receives only 4% of its funding from the federal government: a far lower fraction than other infrastructure sectors, such as highways (25%), mass transit and rail (23%), and aviation (45%). Increasing federal funding for water even by a few percentage points would have hugely beneficial impacts. By dedicating 5% of projected water infrastructure costs—an estimated $6 billion per year over the next 10 years—the next administration can build a robust National Water Technology Pipeline, ushering in a new era of water and sanitation technologies.

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About the Author

Marc Santos is a Senior Consultant at Isle Utilities. He served as a 2018–2019 ASME Congressional Engineering and Science Fellow in the Office of Senator Chris Coons, where he managed the manufacturing, innovation, and small business portfolio. Marc is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and California. He has served as the Engineer of Record on numerous water treatment system designs and has successfully supported municipal water utilities through emergency-response scenarios. Marc holds a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College and a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Massachusetts Amherst.