Designing Water: Black Tech Startups Rethink Public Utilities And Social Justice
In 2016 the world watched from the perches of our Twitter timelines as news of Flint’s two-yearlong secret of filling residents’ homes with contaminated water was unveiled to the mainstream. The stories of children and families suffering from rashes and other lead exposure-induced diseases baffled a country unsure of who to blame: the public utilities managers and technicians, or the government officials who failed to ensure the safety of the water delivered to their constituents?
And yet, though it continues to be one of the largest water epidemics of our generation, Flint isn’t a singular story. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, a water main break happens every two minutes in the U.S. As a country, we’ve grossly underinvested in public water and wastewater piping infrastructure replacement, allocating just $45 billion amid a needed $150 billion.
Two entrepreneurs hope to change that by powering water utility managers with predictive technology and real-time analytics to get ahead of main breaks and contamination issues. Varuna, a startup out of Austin, is a cloud-based platform created to help water utility managers gain control of utility operations and predict water quality issues much faster.