ChatGPT has attracted monumental attention since launching on the market in November 2023. What can the AI chatbot do for water? We asked it three questions covering communicating water reuse projects, investing in start-ups and meeting 2023 corporate water positive goals.
Democratising access to AI
Launched by OpenAI in November 2022, ChatGPT is playing a part in democratising access to Artificial Intelligence (AI). After only five days, the AI chatbot had one million users and after two months of launching, reached 100 million active monthly users.
Backed by Microsoft, with ambitions to integrate with its Office suite of tools and more, ChatGPT has put AI into the hands of the public with the ability to gene rate human-like conversations, reactions and even generate code, emails, essays and more.
But what could it mean for water?
As part of a very simple test, we decided to ask it three questions covering three different parts of the industry: communicating water recycling projects, investing in water technology start-ups and also meeting ambitious 2030 corporate water positive goals.
As expected, the response was valid in places, yet varied. What are your thoughts?
Question 1 – communicating water reuse projects
Aquatech Online (AQA): I want you to act as a water engineer and international consultant with 20 years’ experience to answer the following three questions. Your answers should be based on the most recent information and will be analysed by the international water industry, so need to be accurate.
1. A water utility is planning on building a wastewater recycling plant to create an additional supply of clean water for its community. What would you recommend to help communicate this project?
a. Public engagement: Engage with the local community early in the process to foster understanding and support. Hold public meetings, workshops, or open houses to explain the benefits of the project and address any concerns or misconceptions. Provide opportunities for community input and involvement throughout the planning and implementation stages.
b. Transparent communication: Clearly communicate the purpose and benefits of the wastewater recycling plant, emphasizing the positive impact on water availability and sustainability. Provide accurate and accessible information through various channels, including public forums, websites, social media, and informational brochures.
c. Highlight water quality and safety: Address any concerns related to water quality and safety by explaining the rigorous treatment processes involved in wastewater recycling. Emphasize the robust monitoring and testing protocols that ensure the recycled water meets or exceeds all relevant water quality standards.
d. Showcase benefits: Clearly articulate the advantages of the wastewater recycling plant, such as reducing reliance on external water sources, mitigating water scarcity risks, and potentially lowering water costs for the community. Highlight the positive environmental impact, including reduced wastewater discharge into natural water bodies.
e. Collaboration with stakeholders: Foster partnerships and collaborations with relevant stakeholders, including community organizations, environmental groups, and local government officials. Engage in dialogue with these groups to address concerns, gather feedback, and build a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for the project's success.
Remember to tailor the communication strategy to the specific needs and characteristics of the community you are working with.
Question 2 – investing in start-ups
2. AQA: If you had significant finance available to invest into the next big water technology start-up, what would you recommend?
a. Focus on innovation: Look for start-ups that demonstrate innovative approaches and technologies that have the potential to disrupt or significantly improve the water industry. This could include advancements in water treatment, desalination, water conservation, smart water management systems, or water quality monitoring.
b. Market demand: Assess the market demand for the technology or solution the start-up is offering. Ensure there is a viable market and potential customers who are willing to adopt and pay for the product or service. Evaluate the scalability and potential for widespread implementation.
c. Team expertise: Evaluate the start-up's management team and their expertise in the water industry. A strong team with relevant experience increases the likelihood of success. Look for a combination of technical expertise, business acumen, and a track record of successful project implementation.
d. Sustainable and resilient solutions: Consider start-ups that prioritize sustainability and resilience in their solutions. Look for technologies that minimize water waste, energy consumption, and environmental impact. Solutions that can withstand climate change impacts and extreme weather events are particularly valuable.
e. Regulatory and policy landscape: Assess the regulatory and policy landscape to determine if there are any barriers or incentives that could affect the start-up's success. Identify if the start-up complies with relevant regulations and standards and if they have a plan to navigate potential hurdles.
Question 3 – Meeting corporate water positive goals
3) AQA: I work as the head of water for a global multinational and have ambitious water positive goals to reach by 2030, as part of our wider sustainability aims. How would you recommend we meet these targets?
CHATGPT: To help your global multinational meet its ambitious water positive goals by 2030, I recommend the following strategies:
1. Comprehensive water assessment: Conduct a comprehensive assessment of your company's water footprint, including water use, consumption, and impacts throughout the entire value chain. Identify hotspots and prioritise areas where water conservation and efficiency measures can have the greatest impact.
2. Water conservation and efficiency measures: Implement water-saving technologies, practices, and processes across your operations. This could include optimising water use in manufacturing processes, implementing leak detection and repair programs, and installing water-efficient fixtures and equipment. Encourage employee engagement and awareness to foster a culture of water conservation.
3. Water reuse and recycling: Explore opportunities to reuse and recycle water within your operations. Identify processes or areas where treated or recycled water can substitute freshwater sources. Implement wastewater treatment and recycling systems where feasible, aiming to maximize water recovery and reduce overall water consumption.
4. Supply chain engagement: Engage with your suppliers and encourage them to adopt sustainable water management practices. Collaborate with key suppliers to assess and address their water-related risks and impacts. Consider setting water-related criteria in supplier selection and procurement processes, favouring suppliers with strong water stewardship practices.
5. Community engagement and partnerships: Engage with local communities in the regions where your operations are located. Collaborate with local stakeholders, including water utilities, NGOs, and community organizations, to support local water conservation initiatives, watershed management programs, and community-based water projects. Establish partnerships to enhance water access, education, and infrastructure in water-stressed areas.
6. Water stewardship and watershed management: Adopt a holistic approach to water stewardship by actively managing and protecting watersheds and water sources that are critical to your operations. Engage in watershed restoration projects, support reforestation efforts, and participate in multi-stakeholder initiatives aimed at sustainable water management.
7. Monitoring and reporting: Implement robust monitoring systems to track progress towards your water positive goals. Regularly measure and report on key water performance indicators, such as water use intensity, water recycling rates, and water-related risks and opportunities. Transparently communicate your progress to stakeholders, including investors, customers, and the public.
8. Innovation and technology adoption: Stay abreast of emerging water technologies and innovation in the water sector. Evaluate and pilot new technologies that have the potential to improve water efficiency, enhance water quality, or reduce water-related impacts. Foster a culture of innovation within your organization and actively support research and development efforts in the water field.
By adopting these strategies and incorporating water management practices throughout your operations and supply chain, your multinational company can make significant progress towards achieving its water positive goals by 2030. Regularly review and update your strategies as new opportunities and challenges arise and seek continuous improvement in water stewardship efforts.