water in the pipes diagram

Water perpetually undergoes a fascinating circular journey through our manmade infrastructure and natural environment.

When water enters our pipes, it is treated to remove all biological components, including organics, nutrients, microbes, and potential toxins, ensuring its safety for human consumption and general use. During its time “in the pipes”, the water remains biologically inert until it is used, whether for washing hands, cooking, or flushing toilets.

However, the act of using water reintroduces biology and organics, which are then sent to our wastewater treatment plants. Here, we intentionally recreate a biological environment, rich in organic matter and nutrients, to treat the water and transform it back into “Biological Water” before it leaves the pipes and re-enters the natural environment.

The nature of biology and the Nutrient Cycle inevitably leads to biomass production, and the type of biomass produced plays a crucial role in determining water quality.

Biological Water exists in two main areas of the water cycle:

1.Wastewater Treatment: where water is managed within the pipes and treatment facilities of our manmade infrastructure.

2.Natural Water Infrastructure: where water flows through rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs outside of the pipes.

This means that more than 99% of water is biological water more than 99% of the time, with only a small fraction of its journey spent as treated, biologically inert water “in the pipes” of our manmade infrastructure.

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater TreatmentWastewater treatment represents humanity’s first attempt to harness biology for water management. By constructing artificial environments designed to facilitate and control biological processes, we aim to foster the rapid growth of microbes that consume organics and absorb nutrients, thereby producing biomass in the form of microbial sludge.

This approach relies on the separation of the sludge biomass from the water through settling or skimming, with the hope that the removal of this microbial sludge will reduce organics and nutrients to levels safe enough for water discharge. However, because it relies only on microbes, this method is limited in its ability to fully harness the benefits of the entire food web for nutrient clearance and water quality renewal.

The underlying principle of wastewater treatment, “the solution to pollution is dilution,” assumes that the discharged water will undergo further natural processing and cleansing when released into natural water infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the immense volume of residual nutrients in compliant effluent discharges accumulates over time, leading to a chronic overload of our natural infrastructure through eutrophication. So our manmade infrastructure inadvertently degrades the ability of natural water infrastructure to function effectively, a phenomenon known as “The Paradox of Infrastructure.”

It is becoming increasingly clear that simply building more manmade infrastructure is not a sustainable solution to this problem. Instead, we must engage with Nature in its own domain and on its own terms to manage Biological Water more holistically, supporting the sustenance of Renewable Water.

Natural Water Infrastructure

Natural water infrastructure, consisting of rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs, plays a vital role in renewing and maintaining water quality. These systems are crucial for ensuring that water remains safe for wildlife consumption and human use when it re-enters the pipes of our water systems. Historically, natural water infrastructure has demonstrated a remarkable capability to deliver Renewable Water, thanks to the complex interactions of various biological processes that occur within these ecosystems.

However, the increasing prevalence of eutrophication is impairing these natural systems, transforming them from beneficial resources and assets into environmental liabilities. Eutrophication occurs when excessive nutrients, primarily from human activities such as agriculture and wastewater discharge, accumulate in water bodies. This nutrient overload stimulates the overgrowth of algae and other aquatic plants, leading to a cascade of ecological problems that degrade water quality and disrupt the delicate balance of these ecosystems.

Given the vast expanse of global freshwater resources residing in natural water infrastructure, it is impractical to rely on filtration or chemical treatments to maintain water quality in the domain of Biological Water. The scale and complexity of these systems render such approaches ineffective and unsustainable.

To address these challenges effectively, we must engage with nature and biology on their terms. This requires a shift in our approach, moving away from trying to control and manipulate these systems and instead working to understand and support the inherent processes that maintain water quality. Biotechnology holds the key to achieving this goal, providing us with the tools and knowledge necessary to develop innovative solutions that work in harmony with nature.


The Promise

Biotechnology holds the key to unlocking the full potential of our natural water infrastructure and restoring its ability to deliver Renewable Water. As we have seen, traditional wastewater treatment, which relies on the limited use of biology in constructed environments, is insufficient to address the growing challenges facing our water resources. To truly make a difference, we must engage with Nature on its own terms and in its own domain.

The promise of biotechnology lies in its ability to provide us with the tools and knowledge necessary to implement interventions that support Nature’s innate capacity to renew and maintain water quality. By working in harmony with the complex biological processes that occur within our rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs, we can help these ecosystems recover their lost capacity and become functional assets once again.

clear blue lake Biotechnology enables us to move beyond the limitations of wastewater treatment and engage with the full spectrum of life that contributes to water purification in natural systems. This includes not only microbes but also the diverse array of phytoplankton, aquatic plants, invertebrates, fish, reptiles and mammals that play critical roles in nutrient cycling, oxygen regulation, and other key processes.

By supporting and enhancing these biological functions, we can harness their collective power to break down pollutants, absorb excess nutrients, and maintain the delicate balance necessary for clean, healthy water.

Moreover, biotechnology allows us to develop targeted, site-specific solutions that address the unique challenges facing individual water bodies. By studying the specific ecological dynamics at play in a given system, we can design interventions that work with, rather than against, the natural processes that have evolved over millennia to maintain water quality. This approach not only increases the effectiveness of our efforts but also minimizes the risk of unintended consequences that can arise from more heavy-handed, engineering-based solutions.

The promise of biotechnology is nothing less than a paradigm shift in how we approach water management. By embracing the power and complexity of Nature, we can move beyond the limitations of our current infrastructure and create a more sustainable, resilient water future. Through the application of cutting-edge research and technology, we can work towards restoring the lost capacity of our natural water infrastructure, ensuring that it can continue to provide the clean, Renewable Water that is essential for all life on Earth.

The Challenge

The primary challenge that biotechnology must overcome is eutrophication.

Eutrophication occurs when excessive nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, accumulate in water bodies due to human activities such as agricultural runoff and sewage discharge. This nutrient overload sets off a chain reaction that fundamentally alters the aquatic ecosystem, leading to a host of problems that degrade water quality and impair the ability of these systems to function as Renewable Water assets.

One of the most significant impacts of eutrophication is hypoxia or low oxygen levels in the water. As excess nutrients fuel the rapid growth of algae and other aquatic plants, they eventually die and decompose, consuming large amounts of dissolved oxygen in the process. This leads to oxygen depletion, creating “dead zones” where fish and other aquatic animals cannot survive. Moreover, hypoxia alters water chemistry and nutrient availability, further exacerbating the imbalance in the ecosystem.

harmful algae bloom on lake Another key aspect of eutrophication is nutrient recycling, which creates a vicious cycle of excessive plant growth and decay. As algae and invasive weeds proliferate, they outcompete native species and alter the structure of the aquatic ecosystem. When they die off and decompose, they release the nutrients they had absorbed back into the water, further fueling the growth of more algae and weeds. This nutrient recycling loop perpetuates the eutrophication process, making it increasingly difficult for the ecosystem to recover on its own.

Over time, eutrophication can lead to a fundamental shift in the aquatic ecosystem, known as a regime change. In a healthy, balanced system, the biological community is dominated by species that effectively clear nutrients from the water, such as certain types of algae, zooplankton, and filter-feeding invertebrates. However, as eutrophication progresses, the ecosystem shifts towards a state dominated by species that promote nutrient recycling, such as algae, cyanobacteria and invasive weeds. This regime change further entrenches the eutrophication process, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that is difficult to break.

To overcome the challenge of eutrophication, biotechnology must focus on three key areas: oxygenation, nutrient dynamics management, and ecosystem regime change reversal. By developing targeted interventions that address these critical aspects, we can work towards restoring the lost capacity of our natural water infrastructure and enabling these systems to once again function as vital assets for Renewable Water.


ONE Biotechnology is a comprehensive solution platform that focuses on optimizing biological water management by achieving three critical objectives: oxygenation, nutrient dynamics management, and shifting natural aquatic ecosystems back to nutrient-clearing infrastructure.

Our approach is grounded in a deep understanding Systems Theory and the complex biological processes that govern aquatic ecosystems enabling us to work in harmony to support these natural systems, via targeted interventions that effectively reverse eutrophication and restore the lost capacity of our rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs.

The foundation of ONE Biotechnology is the use of advanced oxygenation techniques that combat hypoxia and restore the dissolved oxygen levels necessary for a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Our proprietary technologies enable us to efficiently and cost-effectively maintain dissolved oxygen in the water column, creating the conditions necessary for the survival and growth of beneficial aquatic species.

In addition to oxygenation, ONE Biotechnology places a strong emphasis on managing nutrient dynamics. Our team of experts has developed sophisticated models and monitoring systems that allow us to track the flow of nutrients and biomass formation that inform the development of targeted interventions that interrupt the vicious cycle of nutrient recycling and promote the uptake and sequestration of excess nutrients.

Perhaps most importantly, ONE Biotechnology facilitates a shifting of the aquatic ecosystem back to a nutrient clearing state that restores water quality and natural infrastructure functionality and performance.

The value proposition of ONE Biotechnology is clear: by addressing the root causes of eutrophication and working with Nature to restore the inherent resilience and capacity of our aquatic ecosystems, we can transform our degraded natural water infrastructure into a vital asset for Renewable Water. Our solutions are cost-effective, sustainable, and adaptable to the unique challenges facing individual water bodies around the world.