Obama eyes a water innovation opportunity



US President Barack Obama has chosen his final budget to earmark funding to help spark water-related innovation. Keith Hayward looks at the proposals.

Less than one week after the global climate change meeting in Paris last year, the White House announced the launch of a water innovation strategy. Not only this, it also chose to link the two events. Obama saw, the White House noted, that Paris created a mechanism for tackling climate change in an effective way and beginning the next phase of building a low-carbon, climate-resilient future. That is why, it said, it was announcing an aggressive, two-part approach to address the impacts of climate change, calling on the private sector and others to scale up research and investment in water efficiency.

The timing of the announcement fitted well with Paris, but it also responded to events closer to home, not least in the form of the long-running drought in the western US. Fast-forward just a couple of months to the recent budget announcement that will carry forward aspects of the strategy and now the administration finds its funding proposals being talked of in the same breath as the lead water supply contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Such are the themes that will colour scrutiny of the budget over the coming months. And another of these is the prospect that this support for innovation will pay dividends in time, in the form of jobs and new business opportunities. As the White House also noted at the time of the launch: ‘This innovation strategy means new cost-effective water solutions – and it means new businesses and new jobs for Americans.’

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  • USA, innovation