"The beginning is always today”
It has been a month since the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, but in some ways it looks like it has been a year. Ensuring the viability of services and adopting socio-economic measures so that no one is left behind have been the great obsessions of public and private water managers in recent weeks, and we can say that, so far, they have been resolved with outstanding marks.
Now that we are certain that normalcy will not return in the short term, it is time for the water industry to put on the table a new roadmap in which the order of priorities will inevitably be affected. And these new circumstances place health at the center of all strategies. We are talking about a factor that, obviously, has always been essential in water management, but which now takes on a new dimension. It is very likely that this emergency will drain resources that were being allocated to environmental policies and “relocate” them in the health field. Although some actors are demanding the maintenance of instruments such as the Green Deal, the facts seem to impose a different scenario, the one drawn this week by the finance ministers of the European Union by activating 240 billion euros of the European rescue fund (European Stability Mechanism, ESM) to avoid deterioration of the public finances of Member States. The only requirement to apply for this financing will be that the countries that request these credits commit to using them to finance the direct and indirect healthcare costs derived from the Covid-19 crisis.
This may be a good opportunity to improve water treatment infrastructures, allowing the introduction of state-of-the-art systems that meet the increasingly demanding requirements of drinking water and wastewater legislation. Also to investigate whether sewage tests can be an instrument for early detection of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and help control infection in a community. In this regard, don't miss Olivia Tempest's interview with Dr Zhugen Yang, Lecturer in Sensor Technology at Cranfield Water Science Institute.
This does not mean that we must "forget" the environment. This is an ideal moment to verify that we can do more with less. And the water sector has weapons such as digitization or the circular economy to emerge victorious from this transformation.
As we said this week, it is time to reinvent ourselves. And Smart Water Magazine is no stranger to this need. After more than a year gathering an influential audience, this week we announced the launch of SWM Monthly, a new publication born with the aim of becoming a showcase for the great leaders of the water industry around the world. At the end of April, we will introduce the first issue of a project in which we will put the best of ourselves. We hope you like it.