Fady Juez: "The IDA will continue to adapt to the latest innovations and practices in the market"
This year the International Desalination Association celebrates 50 years of connecting the global desalination and water reuse community, as the world increasingly recognises the importance of these unconventional water resources to meet the water-related Sustainable Development Goals and adapt to a changing climate.
Last October, Mr Fady Juez, Managing Director of Metito Overseas, was elected President of the Board of the International Desalination (IDA) for 2022-2024, after serving the IDA Board of Directors for the last 20 years. A global expert in the water industry, Mr Juez has been key to the expansion of Metito’s business in the Middle East and South East Asia. We had the pleasure of interviewing him on his plans for this term as President of the IDA Board and his views on trends in the desalination and water reuse industry as it further develops to meet water demands and secure clean water for all.
What are your goals for your term as President of the IDA?
My goal is straightforward: to do everything within my power and calibre to see that all communities, rural, remote, or otherwise, have access to clean, safe, and sanitized water at any time of the day. This can only be done by carrying on the monumental work of those who came before me and propelling the work of the people I surround myself with during my term at the IDA. I aim to ensure the IDA continues the tremendous global recognition and financial turnaround accomplished in term 19, under the leadership of Shannon McCarthy and Carlos Cosín, with the board’s full support.
The board and I will continue the work to engage with the global stakeholder community to bring solutions to meet UN SDG 6
The IDA will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2023, and I am honoured to lead the Board of Directors in this important term. Considering the growing need for non-conventional water solutions to offset the effects of climate change, population growth, and industry needs, the board and I will continue the work to engage with the global stakeholder community to bring solutions to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 6, water for all. The special initiative to ensure a water-positive world.
Can you comment on the role of desalination and water reuse as tools to solve water scarcity and ensure adaptation to climate change?
The IDA plays a significant role in making water desalination and reuse technology available at a lower cost where water is most scarce
As of 2019, about 300 million people are supplied with fresh water every day by more than 20,000 desalination plants in over 150 countries. As of 2022, the desalination contracted capacity stands at over 107 million m3/day and the water reuse at 7.12 million m3/day, respectively. Desalination was initially considered a niche product for energy-rich and water-scarce cities, particularly in the Middle East. However, as its cost continues to decrease and environmental viability increases, its use will likely increase significantly – especially in rapidly growing coastal cities experiencing water shortages. To meet the growing water demand gap, desalination and wastewater reuse can be considered as one of the options in a portfolio of water sources, including surface water and groundwater.
How does IDA support the desalination and water reuse industry?
The IDA plays a significant role in making water desalination and reuse technology available at a lower cost in places where water is most scarce. Operating in over 60 countries, the IDA team consists of multi-faceted members who provide industry insight acquired through years of experience and core knowledge of the topic. Its membership comprises scientists, developers, off-takers, regulators, end-users, engineers, consultants, media, and researchers from governments, corporations, and academia united under one front – to make clean, safe, and potable water readily available for all.
The IDA has recognised PPPs as a viable model for financing unconventional water solutions. Can you comment on the benefits of this working model? What can be done to create more awareness about its positive impacts?
Water security cannot be enhanced without substantial investments in infrastructure to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal No 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation, as well as No 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities. As international associations such as IDA play a crucial role in highlighting successful working models, sustainable solutions must be promoted to achieve these goals.
Now more than ever, we need to incorporate innovation into our designs to lessen the gap between the supply and demand of water
To continue to promote the development and use of desalination technologies and practices, advocacy and a community to support this must be at the forefront of our efforts, especially in desalination and water reuse. As a result of climate change, population growth, and industry demands, non-conventional water solutions are becoming increasingly critical. Bringing solutions to UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 - Water for All requires engagement with global stakeholder communities.
What is the future outlook for floating desalination barges?
Reuse can be encouraged investing in infrastructure, incentivizing users, and establishing a framework for safe reuse practices
Floating desalination barges can house a total capacity of 50 thousand m3/day; the first of three were delivered in January 2022. Now more than ever, we need to incorporate innovation into our designs to lessen the gap between the supply and demand of water. I firmly believe a project of this calibre sets out to do just that. These barges were designed considering mobility, flexibility, and the future demand for water. The fundamental concept of the barge is that it was created to be able to sail to different locations in accordance with the changing needs and growing demand for water.
While desalination is a trusted solution to secure clean water, water reuse is gaining traction as an additional option. What are key indicators for water reuse to meet growing water requirements, and how do you expect it to evolve?
Access to water in any way, shape, or form is always good. Be it desalination, water reuse, or otherwise. A key indicator that water reuse meets growing water requirements is whether it creates a tangible impact on increasing water demands. Wastewater treatment technologies currently provide a sufficient supply of reclaimed water. As a result, there are many opportunities for water reuse, but the challenge lies in implementing them, which is extremely critical in regions with limited water resources. Reuse can be encouraged and evolved through a variety of measures. These include investing in infrastructure, incentivizing users, and establishing a framework that will assist users in adopting safe reuse practices. As part of this process, educating the public and decision-makers on the importance of reusing water is also necessary.
Looking ahead at the next few years, which digital innovations do you think will be making a difference in plant and network design, construction, and operation?
As we move forward, we should expect innovations in digital technology to improve productivity, efficiency, and construction techniques
As we move forward, we should expect innovations in digital technology to improve productivity, efficiency, and construction techniques. All have now reached market maturity, including augmented reality, drones, 3D scanning, 3D printing, building information modelling (BIM), autonomous equipment, and advanced materials. As we utilize these innovations, productivity will increase, project management and procedures will be streamlined, quality will be enhanced, and safety rates will be improved. The industry will have to devote a lot of attention and effort across a number of aspects, from technology, operations, and strategy to personnel and regulations will be needed to capture all this potential.
The water-energy nexus is key for a sustainable future. What are some of the challenges to expanding the use of renewable energy to power desalination plants?
The growing demand for freshwater can be met by desalinating seawater and brackish water. It is, however, an energy-intensive process to desalinate water. Incorporating alternative, renewable energy sources like solar is the answer to this problem. Increasing mainstream acceptance of renewable energy and declining technology prices make renewable energy a viable option. There is a large market potential for renewable energy-powered desalination systems in energy-importing countries because of the growing demand for desalinated water.
The International Desalination Association (IDA) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. As it adapts to a changing world, what role do you see for the IDA in the future?
There is market potential for renewable energy-powered desalination in energy-importing countries because of the desalination demand
The IDA Role has always been and will always be consistent. We are providing a myriad of resources, research, knowledge, and industry experience aimed towards the shared goal of achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal No 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation. The only variables that I see in the future are the methods by which we do this. There will always be a better method of fighting the fight towards accessibility to clean water for all. IDA's methodologies of accommodating the fast-paced shift in the industry are to continue to adapt to the latest innovations and practices in the market while internally developing them through an incremental approach brought on by creative mindsets. As long as there is purpose in our work, the drive of all stakeholders will follow. As I have mentioned prior, we aim to constantly improve ourselves because we believe in the finite fact that water is a right of all.