A conference organized by SUEZ in San Francisco on February 27th gathered senior stakeholders from business, government, and NGOs to discuss the risks of water scarcity and the promise of a sustainable water future. The Resource Revolution of Water Reuse conference also served as the launch pad for an important Water Reuse Action Plan spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Agency, and showcased policies and technologies that can be leveraged now to promote water reuse.
“If you look around the world today, you’ll see increasing water scarcity in many places,” said Jon Freedman, global government affairs leader for SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions. “Fortunately, projection does not have to be destiny. We have the opportunity to take wastewater and treat it so it can be reused for things like growing crops, which is 70 percent of water usage in many parts of the world; running power plants which in the developed world can be up to 50 percent of usage; and even filling drinking water reservoirs, which we see today in places like Singapore.”
At the conference, Dave Ross, the EPA’s assistant administrator for water, announced the development of a national action plan to promote water reuse that will leverage expertise in industry and government.
Panelists and speakers also discussed strategies that global and regional leaders have used to shape water infrastructure debates to focus on sustainability, and ways to encourage new investment in water infrastructure through various financing strategies.
“In the nearly 25 years since SUEZ partnered with the West Basin Municipal Water District in Southern California, the Water Recycling Facility has served more than 300 industrial customers and produced over 200 billion gallons of treated wastewater, “said Eric Gernath, CEO, SUEZ North America. “It is time for other water-stressed communities to go beyond conventional thinking and consider this technology- that has been around for decades- for drinking, irrigation, or industrial uses.”
By 2050, global water needs are expected to increase by 55 percent. But in 2025 a full 25 years before that milestone is reached, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in water-stressed regions. While conservation and desalination are components in mitigating the crisis, reuse of wastewater from municipal and industrial sources remains the greatest potential source of clean water in the future. Globally, nearly 80 percent of wastewater is discharged directly into the environment without treatment.
Water reuse is growing. In the U.S., cities in California and Texas are using treated municipal wastewater to recharge drinking water aquifers. China ranks among the numerous countries around the world that have established ambitious national goals for water reuse. In industry, corporate sustainability projects have focused on reducing the amount of water used in processes, recycling water in internal systems, and encouraging suppliers to do the same.
“We’re seeing increasing water scarcity in many places, even though we have access to the technology needed to treat wastewater so that it can be reused for productive purposes. Right now the world only reuses four to five percent of its wastewater. It’s simply cheaper for cities and businesses to continue to take water from the ground, a river, or even a potable municipal system than it is to buy and implement water reuse technologies,” Freedman said. “That’s why we have meetings like this to explore policies and financing strategies that will support greater reuse.”
For more information about the Resource Revolution of Water Reuse and how SUEZ encourages the resource revolution, go to https://www.suezwatertechnologies.com/emerging-trends/creating-sustainability-throughwater-reuse.
With 90,000 people on the five continents, SUEZ is a world leader in smart and sustainable resource management. We provide water and waste management solutions that enable cities and industries to optimize their resource management and strengthen their environmental and economic performances, in line with regulatory standards. To meet increasing demands to overcome resource quality and scarcity challenges, SUEZ is fully engaged in the resource revolution. With the full potential of digital technologies and innovative solutions, the Group recovers 17 million tons of waste a year, produces 3.9 million tons of secondary raw materials and 7 TWh of local renewable energy. It also secures water resources, delivering wastewater treatment services to 58 million people and reusing 882 million m3 of wastewater. SUEZ generated total revenues of 17.3 billion euros in 2018. For more information, visit www.suez.com.