Edward Norton: The Wastewater Revolution


A champion of environmental efforts, Norton describes the current state and future of wastewater treatment.

Parallel to his well-known career as a Hollywood actor, Edward Norton works as a tireless conservationist and environmentalist. One major area of focus for Norton is the proper handling and treatment of wastewater. Wastewater is used water—think “dirty” water from our kitchens, our bathrooms, in offices and factories—that current systems do not allow to be reused or recycled. Improper treatment of water results in unsafe and unhealthy consequences, not to mention tremendous levels of waste of one of our most precious resources.

Wastewater, Norton says, is demonstrated to be “more significant than education or power in terms of an impediment to human development in the developing world.” And the problem is not confined to just the developing world. In the United States, 35% of treatments plants are violating Environmental Protection Agency quality standards.

In his presentation at Emerson Elemental’s November 2016 DO-FEST event, Norton delved into the enormous scope of the wastewater problem and offers a hopeful perspective for the future. The problem is not one of scientific limitations, he says, but of design and system-level implementation.

“The truth is, this is a solved problem,” says Norton. “This is something that is actually happening.”