This is the time of year when we all begin reflecting upon the past year and deciding what direction we want our companies to take next year. Black and Veatch recently put out a comprehensive report entitled; 2016 Strategic Directions: Water Industry Report. The 2016 report is a quantitative analysis, conducted over the past year that identifies current trends and the continuous challenges faced by the water industry. They found that the top concern was the increased demand and raising cost to maintain and preserve the integrity of infrastructure systems due to population growth. The report finds the water industry rising to meet some the grandest challenges yet. Managing infrastructure maintenance cost, navigating capital investment with limited resources and engaging customers who may be questioning the cost or the safety of their supply are all top of mind for many of the experts that were surveyed. Fortunately, there are bright spots of innovation and new approaches in cities that are learning to do more with less. Many are exploring alternative water supply strategies and energy efficiency while others are testing advanced purification technologies. In addition, they found that the application of advanced data analytics insights offers opportunities to future-proof their systems.
Day after day we hear about how the world is on the verge of an all-out water crisis. We worry about how our faucets will no longer have water streaming through them and how our lawns will turn to dirt. The problem is really much larger and much scarier than that. The reality is that our economies and future wealth are based on access to inexpensive and unlimited water supplies. Industrial water consumption makes up 22% of global water use (UNWATER 2012). Over the past decade, an increasing number of companies realize that water scarcity poses a significant risk to their business success in the future and have started to plan on how to mitigate their risks through strategic water management practices.
Over the past several decades there have been huge increases in water scarcity levels and of water demand in cities with growing populations. These have led to the introduction of water reuse projects for potable use to help boost the supply of drinking water throughout the United States. At the same time issues surrounding water reuse have surfaced in the popular press, focusing primarily on the public acceptance of reusing water for potable purposes and the lack of national regulation for water reuse.
With more than 20,000 people attending the 89th annual Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) this past week, it was one of the largest turnouts in the history of the event.
WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference, is the biggest meeting of its kind in North America. WEFTEC offers thousands of water quality professionals from around the world the best water quality education and training available. Also recognized as the world’s largest annual water quality exhibition, this expansive show floor provides unparalleled access to the most cutting-edge technologies in the field; serves as a forum for domestic and international business opportunities, and promotes invaluable peer-to-peer networking between its more than 20,000 attendees.
The health of our worlds citizens needs improvement. Even industrialized, first world countries, like the United States, have had issues with polluted water, endangering the public waterways and making our citizens sick. This begs the question how do we improve health globally? Well, it’s probably easier than we think, but it will take effort and a long term strategy. If we can improve our sanitation, we can improve the survival rate of our world’s citizens.With water-related diseases responsible for 80% of all illnesses and deaths in developing countries it’s time to take a step back think about what we can do now.
Let’s face it, we know that consumption is growing at every level. When the economy is good we consume more. This is especially true within the food and beverage manufacturing sector. With growing demands for food and our global population growing, food manufacturing is probably a good bet.
Modern American sewer systems were first built in the mid-nineteenth century as a reaction to the worsening of sanitary conditions brought on by massive industrialization and urbanization. But even after decades of advancements in many other aspects of industrialization and, still an average U.S water pipe is 77 years old, a great many were laid in the 19th century. Sewers are even older. Most should have been replaced decades ago.
We all know that our water resources are limited and face increasing pressures from climate change, pollution, population growth, and aging water infrastructure. Professionals in the water industry know we are facing a global water crisis. Thankfully, many experts are hard at work on solutions.