In a captivating key note Swedish public health professor Hans Rosling kicked off the first day of the IWA World Water Congress 2014 in Lisbon on 22 September. He complimented the water community on reducing the amount of people without water to 1 billion worldwide. It gives the other 7 billion the opportunity to concentrate on more productivity, on better health and more prosperity in their lives, Rosling (third from right) explained.

Rapid demographic changes 
In the future, however, he told the gathered water professionals the quantity of water supply wil no longer be the key issue, but the waterquality. “The demographic of the world population is changing rapidly”, said Rosling while showing his impressive moving graphics on poverty reduction and fast growing amount of two-children-families on all continents.

“More parents will be able to bring prosperity to their children. Coming out of poverty, they start dreaming about washing machines. Therefore the future will be about water quality. That will be your problem”, he predicted to his audience.

Increasing water demand by industry
On the first day of the congress other major changes were discussed at the IWA Water & Industry Forum that showed industry is very much aware of the growing water scarcity. Growing economies mean more production and consequently a growing demand for industrial water. At the same time extreme weather events, both floods and droughts, puts the industry’s production at risk. The industry knows it has an important role to play in the protection of water resources, but when it comes down to daily management decisions it is all about economics.

dws-iwa2014-industry-vosmeer-350px  Jan-Willem Vosmeer explains the watershed oriented balacing scheme adopted by Heineken.

Dedicated water funds 
Two Dutch experts participating in the forum gave examples of dedicated funds that made investment in water management more viable. Jan-Willem Vosmeer, CSR manager at Heineken brewery, explained that his company is introducing the concept of water balancing at plants where the water supply is considered to be at risk.

By 2015 these plants must have a 'water balancing plan' that describes how to secure the water supply and how to compensate the company’s water use in the particular watershed.

Vosmeer told for example about their Mexican brewery in Monterrey in the catchment of the San Juan river.

Here Heineken participates in the Metropolitan Monterrey Water Fund (Fondo de Agua Metropolitano de Monterrey) that combines both private and public organisations in taking water conservation measures in the local catchment of the river, including reducing water use, water re-use but also reforestation.

dws-iwa2014-industrial-forum-hoeijmakers-350px Rene Hoeijmakers of Arcadis mentioned the possibility of creating an internal company fund for making water efficiency measure financially more viable.

Compensating depreciation costs
Another financial solution was put forward by René Hoeijmakers, market sector leader industrial water Europe of consultancy firm Arcadis. He touched up on the discrepancy between the general corporate sustainability policies and the investment criteria for local plant managers.

Hoeijmakers noticed that water resource management is a long term policy but plant managers are only allowed to invest in water efficiency measures when the return-on-investment period is only two or three years. In many cases new process equipment lasts much longer but the depreciation costs are too high.

The Dutch consultant suggested the idea to create a fund on corporate level to be able to compensate these depreciation costs.

IWA president Glen Daigger concluded the Water & Industry forum by stating that it is all about aligning sustainability and profit when taking internal capital investment decisions.

The IWA Water & Industry Forum is one of the four forums to take place during this year’s IWA World Water Congress. The others are: Water regulators forum, Utilities leaders forum and Water & Cleantech forum.

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More information
IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition, Lisbon 2014