Dozens of mayors from the Capital Region and across the United States are in Schenectady to learn about ways to provide safe, adequate and affordable water service.
The mayors are members of the water council of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The two-day conference ends today.
Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton, co-chairman of the water council, said cities face a daunting challenge in providing clean, safe drinking water and maintaining an environmentally safe water and wastewater infrastructure.
“The mayors water council projects that the cost of investment needed in water and wastewater infrastructure replacement and repair for our nation’s cities over the next 20 years could be as much as $4.8 trillion,” Stratton said.
The conference will feature panel discussions to identify solutions and sources of revenue to meet these challenges, Stratton said. It also included a visit to the GE Renewable Energy Headquarters on Wednesday.
Jeff Fulgham, GE’s chief sustainability officer, said that within the next 10 years, every state expects some scarcity of water at the local level. He added that globally, the demand for water has already exceeded the supply and that over the next 10 years the “water gap” will increase by more than 4 trillion gallons.
“We need to use water more efficiently,” Fulgham said. “We have to change usage to deal with demand.”
In the United States, the biggest users of water — 201 billion gallons per day — are thermoelectric power plants, followed by irrigation systems at 128 billion gallons.
Steve Bolze, president and CEO of GE Power and Water, said the United States can reduce its water consumption by developing a clear policy regarding renewables.
“The investment policy is not there,” Bolze said. For example, he said, Europe has set a policy to produce 20 percent of its energy from the wind. The United States creates about 2 percent of its energy from wind.
“Policy is key,” Bolze said.