2012-06-29 - There are 7 billion people today, a further 2 billion are anticipated by 2050, and more than 60 million are moving to cities every year: No wonder the focus at Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) this year is "Water Solutions for Liveable and Sustainable Cities."
By ABB Communications
Since the 1950s demand for freshwater has trebled and in some regions, like parts of South and West Asia, Northern China and North America, water use now exceeds the rate of annual average replenishment. The need for integrated sustainable water management strategies have become pressing.
With the demand for food in the world predicted to double in the next 50 years, so too will our demand for freshwater, and for every kilo of wheat produced 1,500 liters of water is used. Although reducing water consumption in agriculture by up to 40 percent can be achieved through efficient irrigation
, savings need to be made in other areas, such as in industry and urban environments, and during its distribution.
ABB in Singapore has been involved in many key water-related projects, like the Singapore district cooling for the Marina Bay district
, the Changi water reclamation plant
, the Marina barrage
, Membrane BioReactor (MBR) plant, and the Tembusu desalination plant
. We talked about water issues with Arup Sen, an expert on the water industry in South Asia:
What is the relationship between power and water?
Power and water are inextricably linked in today’s world. In the water sector, a large amount of energy is required to transport, treat and deliver water, and water is also required in the power generation process. With increased population, coupled with urbanization and industrialization, demand for power usage increases, which requires more water, which uses more power, and the cycle goes on. If there is a water crisis, you should not be surprised to see a power crisis too.
What are the key challenges of the water industry in South Asia?
From a region perspective, the distribution of available water supply in each country varies a lot. Some countries have more rainfall compared to another where dams, wells, reservoirs and canals are built to store or transport them, while others are relatively drier and are dependent on alternative sources such as desalination. Currently, we experience physical scarcity of water and also seasonal scarcity does occur in certain parts of the region.
Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a challenge we have yet to completely overcome across the region. Pure and processed water has high cost and is subsidized in some countries mainly due to high processing and transportation cost. Poor water resource management and planning cannot maintain a sustainable availability of drinking water.
Insufficient funding for the water sector affects water quality, as production capacity cannot be increased through an expansion of existing plants or the building of new plants. The biggest challenges are network losses and availability of pure water at all consumer points, thus generating the need for water transportation from source to destination.
How can we improve water management in this part of the world?
First and foremost, water awareness should be raised to people from all levels, from direct consumers to industry stakeholders. The biggest challenge is identification, reduction and control of losses in transportation. A water crisis will concern all individuals, and is not just a priority for the government. Using water responsibly; reduce, reuse, recycle and reclaim wherever possible.
Improving efficiency of water production using the right technology with more creative innovative solutions could help to tackle water scarcity. The cost of energy for some water production methods could be a hindrance. The correct way of monitoring and measuring the critical parameters also helps to maintain and improve water quality. It is really a balance of what we have and how we can generate more.
To read more about increasing the efficiency of water distribution click here
Singapore International Water Week takes place this year in the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Marina Bay Sands, between July 1-5, providing a global platform for the sharing and co-creation of innovative water solutions.
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