By Fisayo Fadelu, CFO and general counsel, Pecan Street
This summer, Pecan Street joined a City of Austin delegation in the Twin Cities at the One Water Summit, a national conference focused on water management and planning.
The core of the One Water approach is a belief that water is humanity’s most precious resource, and communities have a responsibility to manage it in a sustainable, inclusive, equitable and integrated way. That responsibility falls on all of us – citizens, academics, resource professionals and public and private leaders. If we are to chart the right course for water management, it truly will take a village. And getting to a sustainable water future requires new ways of planning, beginning with ingenious alliances between stakeholders, especially with unconventional participants in the community.
Pecan Street joined the Austin delegation at this year’s conference – along with attendees from 465 organizations, 39 states and 228 cities. In addition to continuing its emphasis on water conservation, the Austin delegation committed to explore new ways to use reclaimed wastewater effluent, on-site blackwater and graywater to reduce overall water demand, and rainwater harvesting and water supply options such as aquifer storage and recovery.
Austin is Pecan Street’s home, so we consider ourselves a stakeholder in Austin’s water conservation efforts. But given our work on water measurement and data, we can also be a key asset for Austin’s One Water efforts.
Over the last 10 years, Pecan Street has established a reputation as experts in high-resolution consumer energy and water usage data. Our one-of-a-kind network of more than 1,000 research homes has produced what we believe is the most detailed insight into energy and water use on the planet.
We’ve gotten a lot of attention for our energy work. But our water research is just as compelling.
Data-driven water innovation
One of the weaknesses of water conservation efforts is the water system’s lack of digital insight. Pecan Street can help. We invented technology that turns legacy water meters into internet-connected smart meters that can detect incredibly small water flows. We’ve helped residents detect leaks and have helped schools save thousands of dollars a month.
Technology proving ground
Pecan Street is mission-driven to accelerate innovation in water and energy. Our Austin lab is a unique resource for pairing lab testing and validation of technologies with real-life field testing in actual homes. The opportunity to gain real-time insight into real customer perspectives on new products on a smaller (pilot) scale can help avoid expensive rollout mistakes that potentially afflict and diminish the credibility of new sustainability-focused products.
The nature of Pecan Street’s work is collaborative. We depend on residents and businesses to partner with us to conduct our research and have provided thousands of academic researchers the data they need to conduct their energy and water research. This has required a nimble ability to work with very different types of people – regular citizens, scientists and engineers, and policymakers.
The path to One Water will require financing and will present opportunities for collaborative proposals that can attract research and demonstration funding to the local community.
Beyond our inaugural $10 million Department of Energy-funded demonstration project, Pecan Street continues to attract a mix of federal, state and corporate funding for energy, water, and transit research projects.
Just as Austin has demonstrated leadership in coalescing public-private effort in sustainable energy and mobility, the water challenge requires all-hands-on-deck to create and support homegrown innovative sustainable solutions. Pecan Street is ready and able to help Austin with this bold and important challenge.