This story is from the 2016 Access 25: How Mobility is Reshaping the Globe. Explore more from this issue

Smart Drinking: Renewable Water

Innovators are rethinking how we access fresh water.

Smart Drinking: Renewable Water

The California drought is just one example of a global shortage that’s prompting new approaches to water acquisition, conservation and usage. California has more than a dozen new desalinization plants in the works, for instance. A Bill Gates-touted device called the Omni Processor converts human waste into drinking water, much like Singapore’s toilet-to-tap reclamation program, which has been converting sewage into potable water since 2003.

Access to fresh water could also provide an economic lift to areas such as the U.S. Midwest. Boosters believe that the region around the Great Lakes — which contains 21 percent of the world’s fresh water — could become a “Water Belt.” Many of the region’s cities (such as Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee) have been struggling to shake off their Rust Belt status. The Great Lakes could lure new residents and businesses needing access to an abundant water supply.

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