The White House “Moonshot for Water” Is More Than Just Pie in The Sky

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – December 23, 2015 – Comment

It was a privilege for me to recently be included as one of the hands of an “all hands on deck” water technology and innovation round-table organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology on December 15. This discussion was part of the administration’s launch of “Moonshot for Water,” an aggressive initiative to “enlist the private sector in its effort to reclaim and conserve water” on a nationwide level

The initiative was spurred, in large part, by increased demand on groundwater supplies across the U.S., which studies show have declined as much as 64% over the past twenty years. Its mission, designated as taking an all-of-the-above approach, has many levels. However, at it’s core are:

  1. Increasing water stewardship through accelerated deployment of water reuse and efficiency technologies
  2. Driving more investments in R&D to scale new water technologies

For me, equally as exciting and empowering as the goals, White House backing, and cooperative focus of this initiative, is the informal name itself, “Moonshot.” The term itself has come to mean “Awesome. The reason for success. Reaching the highest point.” It refers to something that is so fantastic it seems impossible to achieve but is, in fact, very possible. In all that I am experiencing, this high-aspiration, can-do attitude permeates “Moonshot for Water” and is a spirit possessed by those called to help bring it to fruition. The vision is one embraced by everyone as necessary, realistic and achievable… not some pie in the sky idea!

Also very energizing about “Moonshot for Water” is the fact that its very foundation is success. Its architecture builds not from the ground up, but on two sources of past successes. The first is the Obama Administration’s program for solar power, from which “Moonshot for Water” is taking best practices. It was invigorating to hear a White House Associate Director for Natural Resources say, “We crushed it on solar, and we’re going to do the same on water.”

The second success comes from the water practices and technologies already at work on local levels. “Moonshot for Water” very much looks not to reinvent the wheel, but to scale the successes through collaboration and then expanding what already exists.

In many ways, it seems “Moonshot for Water” is off to a huge head start, with promising strategies on the table ranging from the creation of a National Resource Investment Center to increase private investment in water infrastructure and increased government funding… to a National Drought Resilience Partnership and a USDA-drive program for farmers. I look forward to the next big milestone for the initiative – a Water Summit at the White House slated for World Water Day on March 22.