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Towards peace and prosperity: the water industry builds pathways to water security

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As the foundation of all life, water is not a commodity but a cornerstone of civilization, essential for agriculture, industry, and human well-being. Water security holds the key to peace and prosperity, ensuring equitable access to safe and sufficient water resources for all. On the occasion of World Water Day – in 2024 with the theme Leveraging Water for Peace – we highlight the role of water sector companies in tackling the global water crisis.

Water security stands at the nexus of economic growth, social stability, and environmental sustainability. The intricate interplay between these factors underscores the vital importance of reliable access to water resources. In regions where water scarcity looms as a pressing concern, the ramifications ripple through every facet of society, impacting livelihoods, industries, and ecosystems.

The symbiotic relationship between water security, economic prosperity, and social well-being is unmistakable. Thriving water-related industries, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, depend heavily on the availability of water. In environments blessed with ample water resources, these sectors flourish, driving economic growth and creating employment opportunities. Conversely, water scarcity stifles productivity, hampers industrial development, and undermines social stability.

Thriving water-related industries, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, depend heavily on the availability of water

Amidst this backdrop, water sector companies emerge as pivotal players in enhancing water security. By leveraging innovative solutions and collaborative approaches, these companies not only ensure access to clean water but also champion sustainable water management practices. Promoting water use efficiency, tapping unconventional water resources, protecting water bodies from pollution, and going beyond their remit to ensure their actions have a positive social impact, the water industry, each company from their own niche, plays a crucial role: we share some of their stories.

In the dynamic landscape of water security, water industry leaders exemplify a holistic approach that extends beyond traditional boundaries to include a commitment to societal well-being. In the words of Cesar Ossorio, Head of Positive Planet and Climate Change at ACCIONA's Water Business: "We work to provide access to energy, water, and sanitation to people with very low incomes, applying technological innovation and management criteria", adding that “the results of this activity return positive impacts on the quality of life of users, such as poverty reduction, improved health, education, employment, etc., which favour the achievement of other SDGs."

  • The concerted efforts of water sector companies underscore their commitment to ensuring a sustainable water future for generations to come

There is no future without a reliable water supply, and unconventional water sources play a key role in augmenting water availability that is drought-proof. Almar Water Solutions focuses on this approach: "Committed to sustainable development and economic prosperity, Almar Water Solutions deploys unconventional water solutions in the countries where it operates. The development of innovative technologies, such as desalination and water reuse, plays a crucial role in ensuring water security. These solutions not only preserve natural water resources but also drive sustainable economic development in local communities."

There is no future without a reliable water supply, and unconventional water sources play a key role in augmenting water availability

Sustainable water management demands not only innovative solutions but also reliability and energy efficiency to ensure long-term project viability. WEG distinguishes itself in this arena by offering highly dependable and energy-efficient motors capable of powering water projects of any scale. With solutions applicable to wastewater treatment and irrigation projects, as well as desalination and drinking water facilities, “equipment reliability and low operating costs ensure that water treatment does not pose an excessive financial burden on residents”.

Furthermore, as the water industry evolves to adapt to current challenges, companies leveraging digital technology are driving forward sustainable practices. Aware that water is a strategic resource that drives the economy and the well-being of communities worldwide, Idrica relies on the use of technology as a key ally for transparency and more responsible water use, through the monitoring of water networks, infrastructure, and water losses; since its foundation, one of the company's objectives has been “to try to have a positive impact on the world through water efficiency”. Similarly, Hidroconta, a leading figure in digital technology for water applications, underscores the transformative potential of water-efficient solutions: “The development of water technologies to improve water resource use is key to the future. At Hidroconta, we are committed to developing solutions that optimize water use, minimize losses, and promote the conservation of water resources.”

Increasing freshwater availability does not only address water scarcity but also drives economic growth and development, as SUEZ shows in their work with Wanhua Chemical Group, one of the world's top 25 chemical companies, in Yantai, Penglai District, Shandong Province: “To help the company conserve limited water resources, SUEZ will construct a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant capable of producing 100 million litres/day. This desalination plant will save more than 36 million m3 of fresh water per year."

Innovative solutions for a water secure future

Innovation provides the key to unlocking a water secure future. Water professionals are at the forefront of developing and deploying cutting-edge solutions to address water scarcity, pollution, and inefficient management practices. In fact, the water sector is witnessing a paradigm shift propelled by enhanced technologies aimed at revolutionizing water treatment and production while addressing pressing environmental concerns.

The water sector is witnessing a paradigm shift propelled by enhanced technologies aimed at revolutionizing water treatment and production

Due to climate change, developed countries are now facing water stress, whereas in developing countries water stress is combined with rapid urbanization. Improved filtration solutions such as Filtralite, the innovative filter media from Saint-Gobain Group, help improve the performance of water treatment plants. “In existing plants, Filtralite makes it possible to produce more water to supply more people. In new plants, you can increase the production capacity or decrease the number of filters”, notes the company. A sustainable response to the pressing imperatives of water conservation.

ACCIONA, for instance, is harnessing innovation to transform challenges into opportunities from its Technological Center: “Collaboration takes place with all areas of the company to develop cutting-edge technologies in desalination, purification, reuse, and water distribution, aiming not only to minimize impacts but to turn them into positive impacts.”

Another major player, Almar Water Solutions, relies on state-of-the-art reverse osmosis and filtration technologies to enhance efficiency and reduce energy consumption, as well as technologies and equipment that generate brine more efficiently and sustainably. Environmental sustainability is one of their priorities, and the company is committed to “driving technological advancements that redefine industry standards and ensure water security in the regions where it operates.”

Credit: Idrica

Zero liquid discharge technologies have emerged as a game-changer, offering a sustainable approach to wastewater management by minimizing discharge and maximizing resource recovery. This is a growing market, where HRS heat exchangers enable wastewater streams to be reused: “HRS are seeing more and more demand for evaporators and zero liquid discharge (ZLD) technology around the world”, explains Matt Hale, the company’s International Sales & Marketing Director.

Zero liquid discharge technologies have emerged as a game-changer, offering a sustainable approach to wastewater management

We cannot talk about innovation without delving into the digital realm, where smart technologies and management platforms are empowering water professionals with real-time insights and predictive analytics to optimize operations and enhance efficiency. This is possible thanks to companies dedicated to innovation. A case in point is Hidroconta, with a specific R&D department, which they believe is “fundamental to our business strategy, responsible for incorporating new digital technologies into our key products and developing new products.”

Another key player in digital water technology, Idrica aims to improve the management of clients' digital assets with a holistic and comprehensive vision of integrated water cycle management, through the solution Xylem Vue powered by GoAigua. “Thanks to the partnership with Xylem, this technology brings together the technical depth (from assets to analysis) and the operational knowledge of Xylem and Idrica to create an even stronger offering that is enabling work on equitable and sustainable water access, improving integrated water cycle management in countries such as Mexico, Qatar, Romania, and Spain.” Likewise, SUEZ's AQUADVANCED Water Networks platform harnesses artificial intelligence to detect anomalies in real-time, enabling prompt intervention to mitigate leaks and conserve water resources. “Acting as a control tower in drinking water distribution networks, this solution cross-references, analyses and processes the data sent by sensors installed in the network to guide our operators on the ground to perform repairs as soon as possible”, they explain.

Smart technologies and management platforms are empowering water professionals with real-time insights and predictive analytics

The truth is water sector companies are increasingly recognizing the critical role they play in advancing global water security. Software giant Autodesk is committed to leveraging partnerships and supporting policies that contribute to this vital goal. “Our customers tell us that they want to be at the forefront of sustainability, and that is shaping the way we build our software. For example, we’re incorporating new tools driven by machine learning and AI that can help our customers plan and build more sustainably and efficiently”, says Amy Bunszel, Executive Vice President, Architecture, Engineering and Construction Design at Autodesk.

And a word on decarbonization: technological advancements in the water industry are increasingly intertwined with the water-energy nexus, as companies strive to enhance energy efficiency in water treatment processes to lower costs as well as emissions. In this arena, WEG is working to develop new materials for constructing hybrid, permanent magnet, and axial flow motors, which not only represent a leap forward in product innovation but also serve as a blueprint for integrating cutting-edge components. “With a global focus on managing electricity consumption in water treatment plants, the company offers energy consumption studies and develops custom equipment with innovations in materials and energy efficiency systems”; worth noting is these advancements could revolutionize the design of smaller and more efficient water treatment plants, bringing water resources to areas with access problems.

Opportunities through collaboration and partnerships

Collaboration between water stakeholders is paramount in driving water security, and industry players are involved in diverse initiatives across the globe. These collaborative endeavours not only enhance water resource management but also pave the way for resilient solutions to pressing water challenges.

In Spain, ACCIONA's DACUA project, a part of the country’s Recovery, Transformation, and Resilience Plan (PERTE), exemplifies the power of collaboration in advancing digitalization for water cycle management. “Through digitalisation and innovation, it aims to consolidate integrated management and improve efficiency in the use of water resources, for a more resilient water supply that guarantees water security.” Similarly, in Mexico, ACCIONA has worked to secure the water supply in Veracruz through new intakes in the Jamapa and Cotaxla Rivers, developing an action plan in collaboration with public authorities.

Almar Water Solutions' collaboration initiatives with various institutions underscore the company's commitment to innovative solutions for water security. Projects like the Shuqaiq 3 desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, benefiting nearly four million people, exemplify the transformative potential of collaborative ventures to preserve and share valuable water resources.

Reliability of water services is paramount, considering their critical role in sustaining communities and industries worldwide. WEG, recognizing this imperative, designs motors and electrical panels engineered to ensure uninterrupted operation even under adverse conditions, as demonstrated by its collaboration with Thames Water to enhance the reliability of its pumping systems. Moreover, in the context of desalination, ensuring low operating costs is crucial: “In mega desalination plants, the financial viability of the project is ensured by optimizing electricity consumption at all stages of the process, from the substation to high and low voltage motors”.

Collaborative endeavours enhance water resource management and pave the way for resilient solutions to pressing water challenges

Moreover, HRS highlights the importance of working with municipal water companies to help upgrade water treatment facilities or develop new ones, for instance, the Prince of Wales Bay Sewage Treatment Plant, managed by TasWater in Australia, to meet evolving needs.

Collaboration among diverse stakeholders calls for effective data sharing to foster synergies in the face of evolving environmental and socio-economic dynamics. Autodesk underscores the role of data in generating insights to comprehend and address challenges effectively: "No matter the size of the water problem, big or small, when software is used to collect data, analyze it, and share it with others, teams can better understand what needs to be done to cooperatively solve problems."

Finally, SUEZ's longstanding work with the Macao government illustrates the transformative impact of excellence in water services for water management. Through a water supply concession contract since 1985, SUEZ has contributed to Macao's water network's resilience, ensuring a reliable water supply for the population while significantly reducing water loss rates.

Credit: HRS Heat Exchangers


By harnessing technological advancements and working side by side with various stakeholders, water companies are at the forefront of developing sustainable solutions to address water challenges worldwide. Innovation drives the development of new technologies and approaches, while collaboration enables the sharing of expertise and resources to implement effective solutions. As we navigate the complexities of water scarcity, pollution, and climate change, the concerted efforts of water sector companies underscore their commitment to ensuring a sustainable and secure water future for generations to come. Through continued innovation and collaboration, these companies will continue to lead the way towards achieving global water security.