South Bend, Indiana. Ever heard of it? There's a school there of about 8,000 students that also has a football team (at least, it had one until last season). But it's also got a much greater challenge than restoring Notre Dame's gridiron greatness. And that is restoring its city's overburdened and ailing sewage and stormwater system back to full functionality. Current estimates for the town of 150,000 to do just that come in at a whopping $200,000,000! Do the math. That's just over $1,300 for each and every resident currently living there! All of a sudden, the rebuilding program that head coach Charlie Weiss has ahead of him seems a heck of a lot easier than the challenges facing South Bend's municipal government.
The predicament facing the mid-sized town of South Bend is repeated to a greater or lesser extent in towns throughout North America -- totaling, according to some estimates, a trillion dollars worth of infrastructure upgrades. For instance, in the much larger province of Ontario, Canada, government affiliates faced with the same dilemma have enacted some of the most extreme solutions yet. What started out as a voluntary disconnection of residential downspouts three years ago to stem the flow of water into a system already at capacity has officially been enacted as law. Today, all new residential construction projects must create on-property water retention capabilities and -- get this! -- all existing home sites must be retrofitted to retain surface rainwater over a period of time.
But two big problems exist -- which is also where the opportunities come from -- for officials faced with this dilemma. First is a lack of qualified installers and second is a lack of turn-key solutions for these contractors to install.
Here's where the Aquascape rain water harvesting system comes in (see Turning Threats into Opportunities and a New Direction). Aquascape is branching out of its traditional market -- decorative water features, currently regarded as part of the problem (use of limited fresh water) -- and turning that problem into part of the solution. Aquascape didn't invent rain water harvesting. We never said we did! By the way, we also never said we invented decorative water features, either. The ancient Romans can claim both, but they're all dead now anyway. Aquascape is in good company in that regard, though. McDonald's didn't invent the hamburger, and GE most certainly didn't create the light bulb. Does it matter?
Aquascape is seeking solutions to a problem that's not going away. What we need today is to stop thinking about traditional solutions -- a trillion in infrastructure upgrades! Please! -- and start devising practical solutions at the residential level. What I'm trying to say is these very real global problems also spell very big opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to think both creatively and magnanimously. There's so much opportunity here considering the scale of the problem. Maybe as entrepreneurs we should spend less time debating the need for such systems and more time getting much needed solutions to the market?! We have an overwhelming task ahead of us. But as they say, the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. We're just sitting down to an all-you-can-eat buffet here. There's plenty of room at the table. I'm hungry! How about you?