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Water works


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Water Works – green solutions for a blue planet …

Water Works – green solutions for a blue planet

It’s not just for drinking. Without reliable access to water, all our essential systems – from manufacture to transport to trade – would run aground. Now, policy makers and business leaders are starting to recognize its true value. Innovative ways to curb water waste are attracting investment – and paying it off quickly in energy savings. So which are the most promising solutions? Where are the quick wins? And who stands to profit? The Green Futures Special Edition ‘Water Works’ sounds out the future of our most precious resource.

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  • 1. Published by a greenfutures Special Edition WATER for a blue planet Green solutions WORKSPhotos: xxxxx Green Futures October 2012 iii
  • 2. “Little reason to relax” “We urgently require new ideas” In 1995, Ismail Seralgedin, then Senior Vice the moment at least) plentiful and, in an increasing The challenges facing the water sector similar clarity existed for utilities in other countries, President at the World Bank, suggested that number of instances, are acquiring land in developing around the world are immense. Rapidly water company engineers could quickly evaluate “many of the wars this century were about countries to grow the food that they cannot grow increasing populations and economic development new technology and projects to check whether or oil, but those of the next century will be over for themselves. Saudi Arabia has recognised that in emerging markets mean an ever increasing not they were viable. water”. Has the risk gone away? Or have we just growing wheat in the desert with precious fresh water demand for water, while ageing infrastructures, If we are to solve the massive challenges been lucky? makes no sense, even if paid for by petro dollars. rising energy costs and climate change are having faced by the water sector, we need regulation that What has happened is a growing recognition that The world’s burgeoning cities are already an impact on water utilities worldwide. encourages innovation. We need governments and water can no longer be taken for granted. Like so struggling to provide water (and importantly We urgently require new ideas and new ways regulators to give water a real economic value and many other natural resources, it is now something we sanitation) to the hundreds of millions who need it of doing things. However, in many countries, ensure that the true cost of water is passed on to need to take care of. now, let alone the 2.5 billion extra who will join them incentives for innovation are weak and water consumers and customers, with safeguards for the However you look at it – from the impact in the next 40 years. utilities are slow to adopt new technology. poorest – rather than subsidising it through the tax of increasing global demand for food on water The answer? Efficiency and technology will play Supplying water is a monopoly, so water utilities system and ignoring the environmental costs. This availability, to the impact of over-abstraction for a vital role in enabling us to make the best use of this are either state owned or operate in a regulatory will incentivise solutions that reduce consumption, agriculture or cities on watersheds and ecosystems – precious resource. Leakage wastes vast quantities framework. It is therefore governments, and the such as water recycling or the improvement of the facts are pretty stark, and are provoking a range of water from distribution systems around the world. regulatory incentives that they put in place, that industrial processes. of responses. However, it will require people and policy makers drive innovation – or the lack of it. An additional benefit of giving water an economic Smart companies, alongside their social and to really understand why this matters, and for that The fastest uptake of water-saving technology value is that its price correlates to its availability, Photos: Hemera/thinkstock; Paul Glendell / Alamy carbon footprints, are analysing their supply chains awareness to lead to a combination of regulation, occurs in countries where some of the right varying significantly from one water resource zone to identify their dependence on water. It glows realistic pricing and reduced consumption. incentives for innovation are already in place. For to another. This ensures that incentives are greatest bright red on their risk matrices as a current and Water has not yet proved the spark that instance, i2O’s Advanced Pressure Management in areas where water is most scarce. future threat. Seralgeldin thought it might. But the well-documented solution has been most rapidly implemented in If governments have the courage to allow Ministries of agriculture are looking nervously linkages between food, water, energy, economic countries where water is given an economic value. water utilities to pass on the true cost of water at rainfall predictions to see whether their crops growth and human wellbeing suggest that there is In Malaysia, the largest water provider, SYABAS, to their customers, their appetite for innovation will continue to flourish, against the uncertainty little reason to relax. is now saving 40 million litres per day, thanks to will increase, working with dynamic suppliers and Photo: i2O Water of increasing climate volatility and changing our technology. It was very easy for SYABAS to technology providers to develop solutions to the rainfall patterns. Will Day chairs the non-profit partnership Water and calculate the payback of investing in i2O as they massive problems we face. Nations are looking to source products and Sanitation for the Urban Poor and is Sustainability buy their water for approximately £0.15/m3, which materials from parts of the world where rain is (for Advisor to PwC (UK). reflects the real economic value of the water. If Adam Kingdon is CEO, i2O Water.2 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 3
  • 3. After the deluge “Water is a hidden service”, says Michael Deane, Executive Director of the US National Association of Water Companies. “People see rainfall, and ask, why should I pay for water? They don’t realise what they’re paying for is pumping, pipes and infrastructure, and that capital is necessary for preserving future resources.”When water flows freely from both the clouds and Despite the low-level of public knowledge, Deane maintains that communicating thethe tap, paying for it can seem unfair. Katherine environmental and public health importance of clean water increases customers’ willingness to useRowland asks how the industry can persuade us resources more efficiently and pay higher rates. Thames Water is doing just that. In partnershipto value this precious resource. with WWF-UK, the local council and the not-for-profit efficiency consultants Waterwise, the utility is taking steps to reduce Swindon’s water use – which, at 164 litres per person per day, is well Last spring when the utility Thames Water above the UK Government’s target of 130 litres. launched a campaign to raise awareness The project, which won the Environment Agency of southeast England’s growing water Chairman’s Award at the 2012 UK Water Efficiency stress, photographers were quick to snap Awards, includes distributing free home Photos: ngram Publishing/thinkstock / istockphoto/thinkstock up pictures of buses, emblazoned with ‘We water-saving devices, as well as educational Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / istockphoto/thinkstock are in drought’, splashing umbrella-toting outreach to establish explicit connections between passers-by. The irony in these images captures the tap and the region’s valued rivers. It has a widespread conundrum. Despite the impression reduced Swindon’s overall water use by 560,000 of water plenty, the need for conservation and litres per day. efficiency is greater than ever, as rising demand A drought campaign by Thames Water delivered and climate variability place increasing strain on encouraging results. In its first week, over 20,000 groundwater reserves. In the UK and around the people visited its ‘Waterwisely’ website – 15 times world, suppliers are trying to bolster customers’ more than usual – and during May’s hot spell its understanding of local water resources with customers’ water use went down by 100 million campaigns to make it plain that – while many litres. Crucially, independent research revealed Seattle: using less water consider water a human right – its treatment and that, thanks to the campaign, just under 90% of despite a growing population delivery must be paid for. customers understood that there was a water True to the logic that people tend to waste were metered and illegal connections Water and Islam of religious leaders to demonstrate water to human rights and Islamic faith. The what they don’t pay for, Kingdon says were rampant. But under the direction recapture from ablutions in mosques, initiatives of the non-profit Palestinian that low or absent water rates discourage of engineer Ek Sonn Chan, an approach In the Middle East – a region of natural rallying participants to the idea that water Hydrology Group have included the creation efficient use and capital investment in based on charging small fees has not only fresh water scarcity and high population is a divine gift, and that, in the context of of community rainwater catchments and infrastructure: “When you give people free brought clean water 24 hours a day to the growth – authorities have increasingly scarcity, no one is entitled to excessive conservation education, with a special focus water, there’s no incentive to manage it entire city, but lowered costs for the urban come to focus on how culture and religious amounts at another’s expense. Utilities on women who typically provide for and efficiently.” Saudi Arabia – one of the driest poor and improved public health. values affect public perceptions of in Syria have similarly relied on posters manage domestic use. Their programmes nations in the world – offers an extreme However fundamental a need, the resource use. As Naser Faruqui, Director of expressing, “Water is a gift from God, save stress the importance of conservation example, he says. There, the Government cost of water is too much for some. In the Science and Innovation at the International it.” In the Palestinian Territories, against a for the security of Palestine’s future, and supplies water at virtually no charge: UK, Wessex Water is the first to introduce Development Research Centre in Ottawa backdrop of ongoing conflict over access past sticker campaigns have emphasized consumers pay less than 0.03 cents per social tariffs and flexible payment plans, and lead author of the 2001 book, Islam to water and deteriorating resources, that efficient water use is “wajib dini”, or a cubic meter. And yet the associated energy recognising the financial difficulties of and Water Management, explains, Islam conservation efforts have straddled appeals “religious duty”.A right or a privilege? and financial costs of desalinating seawater and pumping it through thousands of some of their customers. Working with agencies such as the Citizens Advice developed in typically arid regions, and so conservation values are deeply engrained inIn 2010, the UN declared water to be kilometres of leaking pipes are staggering. Bureau to assess the level of need, it offers its teachings. “The Qu’ran is explicit abouta human right, and although basic New tariffs and pricing structures, such lower tariffs for those in extreme financial water conservation and management”, saysneeds only account for 1.5% of water as proposals to impose fees for water difficulty, and various plans to help those in Faruqui. “It says that there is a fixed amountconsumption, the issue of how much to used by non-citizens, are a matter of water debt get back on track. in the world and discourages wastefulcharge for water, if at all, is contentious. ongoing debate, but the Government has The business case for this is clear. use.” Murad Bino, Executive Director of the The approach of a government to water acknowledged that free water is not in the “The cost of bad debt, which has been Inter-Islamic Network of Water Resourcesrates, and the latitude it grants suppliers in public’s best interests, because it leads to increasing, gets spread across the whole and Management, sees Islam as a “strongcharging customers, will directly affect the under-investment in infrastructure. customer base”, explains Dan Green instrument for social change”. For more thanefficiency of consumption and delivery. Cambodia, by contrast, illustrates how of Wessex Water. “By building a better a decade, the Network, which operates in Adam Kingdon, CEO of i2O Water – a charging water tariffs can improve water relationship with the people who are 17 Muslim countries, has been working withcompany that provides technology for access for consumers. The government- genuinely struggling to pay, and helping thousands of rural households in Jordan tooptimising the pressure in water distribution owned Phnom Penh Water Supply them to get advice, we actually bring more promote greywater recycling for irrigation,systems – maintains that free water is not Agency was once a decrepit, war-torn money in than if we remained inflexible in linking conservation to Qu’ranic beliefs.actually in the best interests of consumers. system, wherein only 13% of households our payment plans.” The programme draws on the co-operation4 Green Futures October 2012
  • 4. Beyond the Big Dry In April of this year, the Australian Government announced the end of its decade-long drought. And while the Big Dry may be over, it’s likely to leave a lasting mark on public commitments to water efficiency. During the drought, national and state governments launched a suite of initiatives to promote long-term improvements in water efficiency, and accelerate the uptake of water-saving technologies and practices. Australia is one of the world’s biggest consumers of water: prior to the drought Australians were using an average of more than 300 litres per day. But with rising rates, restrictions on outdoor use, widespread adoption of water-saving devices, and campaigns to modify behaviour, average use has dropped by more than one-third. In southeast Queensland, local government and utilities worked together to reduce water use among 80,000 “high volume” households – those using 800 or more litres per person per day. They conducted behavioural surveys and worked one-on-one to find ways to make savings, such as installing rain capture bins and switching to low-irrigation lawn covers. After the programme, 45% of households were deemed efficient, with daily usage reduced to 145 litres per person. The Water Corporation of Western Australia’s H2ome scheme enlisted households in a 12-month shortage despite record spring rainfall, and 72% despite regional population and economic growth. bound by national borders, and to encourage a pan- Too wet for wheat: the programme involving personal coaching on efficient understood why. More crucially, 89% said they “The success of our projects is that we don’t European ethos of conservation. While scarcity is a UK is set to be a net use and regular meter readings to keep households on would either continue to use as little water as just give consumers tips on how to save water: global problem, water use and consumer ethics vary importer of the grain this track, and successfully lowered usage by 17-19%. possible or would continue to use less than they we provide them with a ‘why’ message”, says Al widely by region. Campaigns work best when they year, following the most “Australia has gone beyond behaviour change,” did before the drought. Dietemann, who leads SWP. The agency installs target local concerns, says Deane. “People don’t summer rainfall in a century says Andrew Tucker, who before becoming the Water Anglian Water’s area of operations includes free water-saving hardware, and offers educational want to pay for abstract issues like climate change Strategy Manager for the UK Energy Saving Trust, some of the driest parts of England. It also has messages via print, radio and television, in English in their water bill – it’s hard enough to get people to served as an environmental advisor in Australia. one of the country’s fastest growing populations, and the languages of the large East African and First pay for ageing pipes. But they will pay and conserve “There is now a cultural shift in the way people use so it is particularly important for businesses Nations populations. It also engages local leaders when they understand how water issues affect their and view water resources. Having gone through such operating in the region to save water. Bob Wilson, to spread conservation values. “Social marketing own communities.” extreme drought, people aren’t going back to Director, Anglian Water Business explains: “We is much more effective than having utilities preach For Andrew Tucker of the UK’s Energy Saving wasteful practices.” urge our business customers to develop a water change to customers,” adds Dietemann. “We create Trust, it’s also important to help the people see strategy which takes into account all the financial tailored messages that relate to local cultures and the connections between water use and energy Scarcity and environmental costs of using water, including activities in ways that people can understand.” efficiency. Energy saving, he says, has steadily is a global associated energy use and carbon emissions.” They One of the most effective campaigns tied become part of mainstream culture, and consumers problem, but are offered a range of services, including assistance domestic water use to the local watershed, around recognise that simple steps, like switching off lights, in finding and fixing leaks. Through its Love Every which much of the area’s recreational and industrial will be rewarded through lower bills. Water, by water use Drop campaign, the utility also helps customers to activities revolve. In particular, the watershed is contrast, is relatively cheap when compared to other and ethics better understand the value of water. Part of that is home to one of the largest wild salmon runs in services, and rarely metered (in the UK). Although vary widely finding ways to reduce water waste, with the goal of the US, and so the agency used imagery to help prices have been steadily increasing, efficiency reducing daily, domestic use by 20 litres per person. customers see how water use could affect the measures don’t necessarily result in significant cost by region Domestic customers are encouraged to install health of the river and its stocks. savings on the water bill. meters and are offered free water-saving devices. Seattle authorities are hardly alone in making The Trust’s Water Energy Calculator, which has As Andy Brown, Anglian’s Head of Sustainability, appeals to local values. In Texas, among other been adopted by several of the nation’s utilities, Photos: Comstock/thinkstock / Martin Gabriel/Nature Picture Library notes: “The impression of wet weather makes states in the US South, the federally-sponsored helps consumers see how energy and water usage people assume they don’t need to be careful with 40 Gallon Challenge prompts citizens to “take the go hand in hand. It processes personal variables, water use, but once they understand the facts – like pledge to conserve water” for their county and such as home and family size, geographic location, how much water is used for a shower or washing state. In the Middle East, the Jordanian Government and whether the household has a garden and their car – they become much more responsive.” and the Palestinian Hydrology Group have framed swimming pool, to identify where waste is occurring. For the same reasons, plentiful rainfall in the US consumer water saving initiatives in relation to It then generates tailored tips for improved Pacific Northwest could hamper efforts to improve religious emphases on conservation [see box, efficiency. “None of it is rocket science”, says water efficiency. However, current consumption ‘Water and Islam’, p5]. Tucker. “There are clear measures you can take to Photo: istockphoto/thinkstock rates in Washington State are now as low as they The European Commission’s Generation Awake reduce use and improve efficiency. The challenge is were in 1957, thanks to one of the country’s most campaign caters to a younger, more ecologically the broad shift in mindset that makes these actions effective consumer conservation programmes. The savvy cohort, urging citizens to address over- standard practice.” Saving Water Partnership (SWP) for Seattle has consumption with the aid of 3D animation, videos reduced overall water usage by a cumulative total and social media. This project aims to help Katherine Rowland is a journalist specialising in health of 9.56 million gallons per day from 2000 to 2010, consumers understand how water resources are not and environment. She is based in New York.6 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 7
  • 5. Smarty patented pilot valve and remote controller. Sensors “Using smart systems to actively manage Safe for a swim? placed downstream in the pipe network – at the pressure in a water network has huge advantages”, ‘critical point’ where pressure is lowest – gather says Jacob Tompkins, Managing Director at No one wants to take a dip in dirty water, but data on demand, which is transmitted via the Waterwise, an independent UK based non-profit some public bathing sites can be adversely mobile phone network, together with data from organisation which works to promote waterpipes affected by excessive rainfall, if it causes the PRV controllers, to i2O’s server. Software efficiency and conservation. “[This] isn’t just a wastewater to overflow. In a bid to help is then used to set the PRVs automatically and fit-and-forget approach”, he adds: “It is a tool that its customers make safe choices, Wessex continuously to the optimum pressure, without the can aid in network management, [by providing] Water launched a bathing water notification need for, and costs of, manual interventions. the ability to vary pressures in distinct parts of the system in 2011. This uses Google maps and This way, the whole network can be regulated network in real time.” mobile technology to offer the public real- to ensure not only that customers always receive time information on sewer overflow events. the pressure that they need, but that the pressure Ian Randall is a journalist working at CERN. The company has installed small battery- (and therefore the amount of leakage, risk of bursts powered monitors at 20 coastal and bathing and cost of pumping) is kept to a minimum. ThisIan Randall finds out about a sure sites which the Environment Agency has lowers operating costs, enhances the lifetime of identified as vulnerable to discharge. the pipes and reduces the service disruption toway to reduce leaks and bursts. customers through lengthy repair jobs. As there is rarely mains electricity at the PRV site, i2O developed an innovative pilot valve, which is retrofitted to the PRVs and uses minimum power, supplied either by a local battery or by a micro-turbine inserted into a bypass pipe. The company’s 2010 installation on Veolia’s network in the UK reduced leakage by approximately 15% (around 2.5 million litres of water a day) – while actually improving customer service levels and eliminating customer low-pressure complaints. In addition, Veolia estimated that, due to a reduction in bursts, operating costs fell by as much as 80%. One of i2O’s most successful installations has been in Malaysia, in partnership with the water services company Jalur Cahaya. Here, 205 systems on the Syabas network save 40 million litres of water a day, or 12% of the total volume. In addition, the rate of new pipe bursts has fallen by 40%. “On [zones] with i2O, once we have fixed a leak, it stays fixed,” says Sheikh Mazlan of Smartening up: i2O’s Advanced Pilot Valve Jalur Cahaya. Across the world, millions of litres of water are seeping out from supply networks Most major water networks are divided up into District Metered Areas (DMAs), each covering a few Wave mapping every day before they even reach our taps. thousand homes or buildings. A pressure reducing According to OFWAT, the regulatory body for water and With knowledge of the pipe system, special analytic Replacing pipes is enormously capital intensive, valve (PRV) is usually installed at the inlet of each sewage in England and Wales, the amount of UK water lost methods can be used, on the signals received back at the while digging up the road to fix all of the small DMA. These PRVs are set to a fixed pressure and daily through leaky pipes would be enough to meet the needs origin point of the wave, to map out the locations of these leaks which together add up to big losses is costly are currently adjusted manually by technicians of 10 million additional people. Detecting leaks, however, is a features. Comparison with previous results, therefore, can and disruptive. A cost effective alternative is to visiting site. difficult process. Traditional methods, which use microphones reveal the presence and location of any new leaks in the pipes. optimise the pressure of the water in the pipes, The problem with this approach is that to listen out for the sounds made by water escaping from “The system has delivered some very promising results at keeping it high enough to meet customer needs, the pressure required fluctuates with demand, a pipe, tend to be time-consuming and inaccurate. The Yorkshire Water,” says James Shucksmith, the lecturer in Water but eliminating the excess, which causes leakage throughout any given day and over the course of recent trend towards plastic piping, in which sound rapidly Engineering at the University of Sheffield who led the trial of and bursts. a year. As the PRVs are difficult to adjust, they are attenuates, has not made this easier. the technology. Technology from the UK-based company i2O normally set at the maximum pressure that might A new method, however, has been developed by “We are able to identify the location of leaks much more Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / Photodisc/thinkstock uses sophisticated software and a network of ever be needed. This means that for the rest of the researchers at the University of Sheffield. This system, accurately and rapidly than existing systems are able to, sensors and controllers to do just this. Its novel time, they are set far too high. which has recently been put into practical application in meaning water companies will be able to save both time and systems are already saving over 75 million litres of The excess pressure increases leakage, which tests with Yorkshire Water, uses pressure waves to explore money in carrying out repairs.” water each day around the world. is proportional to pressure. It also causes additional pipe networks. During the tests, leaks in cast iron pipes were successfully “Leakage is a worldwide problem”, says stress in the pipes leading to bursts and reduces A special valve is fitted to standard water hydrants. pinpointed to within one metre. Tests of plastic piping proved Adam Kingdon, the CEO of i2O. “Optimising the the service life of the pipe. Pumping at too high a Opened and closed quickly, this generates a wave of pressure, even more effective, narrowing the search to within 20cm of pressure in the network seems like a very obvious pressure is also enormously wasteful of energy. which travels down the pipe. Whenever the wave meets a the leak itself. The researchers are currently searching for an thing to do. If you manage the pressure correctly, This waste can be avoided through the use of change in the network (such as a junction, turn or leak) a industrial partner, in order to develop the system for wider, you can reduce both leakage and the number of i2O’s solution, which is both simple and effective. reflection is transmitted back up the pipe. commercial use. Photo: i2O new bursts as well as reducing operating costs So, how does it work? and energy bills.” The company retrofits each PRV with a8 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 9
  • 6. of householders, though – and it’s their role in water This little piggy conservation that stands to have the much-needed results. Thanks to comprehensive campaigns around For water companies, “the biggest single complaint is the globe, many are stepping up. Australia’s annual discolouration”, says Joe Quarini, a Professor at the University Savewater! Awards – a scheme to recognise water- of Bristol. “Someone opens the tap, pours a glass of water, saving efforts in homes, businesses and schools, holds the glass up to the light and they can see little specks now in its 10th year – has become a highly revered in it.” This harmless discolouration is caused by little bits achievement. of grit and dirt, which can come from the pipe system, and Saving water is just part of the battle, though: collect in it. Quarini has developed a highly flexible system to another is encouraging residents to respect the clean pipes (used for water and other purposes) which can be water system on which they depend. One problem employed quickly and efficiently without the need for harsh is that some use the toilet and sink as general waste chemicals or digging up pipework. disposal units, for anything from kitchen fat to A plug of partially molten ice – similar in composition to Previous pigs were made of foam, and required some work nappies. Wessex Water has launched a free game an iced beverage – is placed into the pipe through a hydrant, to set them off and get them out again. They were also liable for the iPhone called ‘Bag it and bin it’, where the and pushed along by regular water flow. This plug, known as to get stuck, or take a wrong turn – none of which is a problem user has to dispose of waste objects quickly before an “ice pig”, scours the pipes through which it travels. The with ice. According to reports from Aqualogy’s clients, ice they land in the loo – learning what shouldn’t end up pig and the unwanted particulate material it collects can then pigging can remove 20 times as much sediment and biofilm as in there as they play. easily be ejected further down the pipe. can flushing, and is as effective as traditional foam pigs, minus For Marcia Davies of Anglian Water, education As the pig is made primarily of water, it leaves no residue their complications. is one of the most important tools in the box. behind itself – and, should it get stuck, users merely need to Water pipes are far from the only possible use for ice pigs. “Educating people about where water comes from, take a quick break and wait for the pig to melt. In fact, Quarini first envisaged the pig for cleaning pipes in the how it’s cleaned and prepared, how it then re-enters “Ice Pigging offers our clients an innovative, simple, food processing industry: “The applications are limited only by the environment, and the effect that has on the low risk and highly effective technique for cleaning water your imagination,” he says. ‘Beer pigs’, for piping in pubs and ecosystem – creating the ‘bigger picture’ for been found to have large enough leaks to warrant a distribution mains and pumped sewers”, says David Corke, breweries, are planned for the near future. Other uses might them – is key”, she says, “as is making it as simple repair or pipe replacement. a director at Aqualogy, the global company which holds include distributing biocide within plants, in decommissioning as possible to save water.” Out in the garden, solar-powered irrigation the license to use ice pigging in commercial, water based oil rigs, and even cleaning out urinary catheters to reduce the Anglian’s ‘Drop 20’ campaign gives households systems are also becoming more popular. They applications. chance of infection. simple tips to reduce their consumption. One focus require no mains electricity or water supply, instead is the benefit of water metering. The company’s sucking water from a butt (or other non-pressurised Households Water Efficiency Manger, Linda Berkshire, says: water source) and then thoroughly watering plants “Non-metered customers will look at you with horror every three hours with the aid of a solar-powered save an average ofHome help at the prospect of having a meter installed because pump. The device even gives the garden an extra there’s an assumption that it’s more expensive. But helping of water when it’s particularly sunny. The £100 per year actually, we’re finding that households are saving system uses 90% less water than a hose. Thames an average of £100 per year by paying for what Water is offering a 15% discount on the kit (which by paying for they actually use, rather than a figure based on their retails at £79.50) to its customers. what they property size. Over 20,000 customers come to us A range of freebies from water suppliers aims to actually use every year, asking for them.” help customers recognise the cost of water. As part Traditionally, water meters are installed to of its Waterwisely campaign, Thames Water handedRachel England looks at the schemes and pipework outside, but Wessex Water is trialling smart meters – which transfer readings from external water out shower heads, tap attachments and hippo bags for toilet cisterns to its customers on demand.gadgets designed to make us more aware pipes to an internal device – to see what difference (The nifty hippos save up to two litres of water per it makes to water use if householders are able to flush, reducing a UK individual’s daily water useof our daily water use. keep track of their consumption, and its impact on by up to 5%.) Between March and August 2012, their bills, in real time. These devices will send data over 100,000 water-saving products were ordered. to consumers’ phones, PCs and tablet devices to Anglian Water’s ‘Bits and Bobs’ scheme offers help them to understand the impact of actions like similar gadgets, and includes a visit from a plumber Technologies are evolving to make wise water use washing up and taking a shower. who will fit the equipment and talk to the customer more appealing and – critically – convenient, to The trial is part of a wider project, Smart about other ways to save water. “This conversation homeowners. The most effective will cut waste Dorchester, through which Wessex is working is important as it helps to drive behaviour change,” down the pipe, slim energy bills, and change the with residential customers, local businesses and says Berkshire. “We’ve carried out thousands of Photos: Aqualogy/Water Efficiency Awards / H2eco/Water Efficiency Awards way people use water in the long-term. schools to find the best ways to give them clear visits so far and have a target of 87,500 by 2015. The In Australia, new homes are fitted with greywater information about the price of water, help them to scheme can save over 40 litres per household per recycling units, and tax incentives are available save both water and money, and to understand day – it’s a significant amount. ” in some US states to encourage plumbers to their own usage. The project will also offer advice to There does appear to be a shift in attitude incorporate the technology standard [see ‘How many encourage them to change their habits. towards water conservation, says Anglian Water’s shades?’, p20]. In the UK, a housing development Specialist gadgets designed to cut water waste Marcia Davies, noting that the recent droughts have Photos: istockphoto/thinkstock / Anglian Water in Huntingdon uses greywater recycling in are becoming increasingly popular, too. Thames brought the issue into the public consciousness. conjunction with high efficiency tap fittings, Water provides ‘Leakfrog’ devices which are fitted “However, there are people who were in the reducing consumption from 145 litres per person to a customer’s water meter for between a day and company back in 1976 [during the UK’s last major per day to just 80. According to Gareth Barker, a week, detecting hidden leaks in their pipes. drought] and they say there was a similar discussion Growth Planning Manager at Anglian Water, local Working like stopwatches, the digital device shows then… It’s important we keep the momentum of this authorities in the UK are increasingly demanding the longest period of time it has taken for one litre dialogue going, and that we don’t only talk about that new developments achieve high standards of water to pass through the household’s water water when it’s perceived to be a problem.” within the Code for Sustainable Homes. Greywater meter. The shorter the time, the bigger the leak. recycling units are rated at the highest level (Code Over 70,000 properties’ supply pipes have been Rachel England is a freelance writer and editor 6). Such technologies are largely out of the control tested with the device since 2008, and 2,100 have specialising in sustainability.10 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 11
  • 7. 2 1 3 4 5Seeking solvency 6Many parts of the planet are in ‘water debt’,through a combination of over-abstraction,poor stewardship, and climate change.But across the world, innovative solutions offerhope of water security in the long term.1 he Saving Water Partnership (SWP) T 2 hames Water’s Old Ford plant T 3 n the Jordan Valley, the Palestinian I 4 A solar pump drive, manufactured 5 n Malaysia, the installation of i2O’s I 6 In Perth and elsewhere, Water Photos: shutterstock; Martin Wright for Seattle has reduced overall water recycled water from London’s sewers Hydrology Group works with local by AMRO Technology in Bangalore, Advanced Pressure Management Corporation’s H2ome scheme has usage by a cumulative total of 9.56 for the Olympic Park, cutting its women to improve access to water India, can be fitted to most types of system on the SYABAS network lowered us in households by 7-19% million gallons per day from 2000 to demand for tap water by up to 58% for agricultural use [see ‘Water and existing hand or treadle pumps [see saves 40 millions litres of water a day [see ‘Beyond the Big Dry’, p6]. 2010 [see ‘After the deluge’, p4]. [see ‘How many shades?’, p20]. Islam’, p5]. ‘Thirst quenchers’, p14]. [see ‘Smarty pipes’, p8].Pump actionA centuries-old technology couldhelp put water where it’s needed.Ask people to name the invention most apart from that of the water itself. recently become more popular as a means explains, “We can put a ram pump inside urban flood prevention. “You could installclosely associated with the Montgolfier Essentially, it works like this: if you have of bringing water to off-grid communities a national park far from an electricity small pumps in the drains beneath aBrothers, and most would plump for the a supply of water flowing downhill (from a in developing countries. And as fuel and supply, helping prevent flooding supermarket car park, say.” As well ashot air balloon. spring or a stream, say) you can use the maintenance costs rise, so the relatively by moving water higher up into the stopping dangerous levels of run-off But while this may remain the 18th force of its fall to pump some of it uphill, simple ram pumps are beginning to look catchment area.” during heavy rains, the water could becentury French pair’s most famous claim using a simple pump based on the increasingly economical for the Papa Pumps’ largest model is able to pumped back up for use in car washes,to fame, they also developed something so-called ‘water hammer’ effect. industrialised world, too. shift water up to 50km, raising the prospect toilet flushing, or to irrigate green roofs, allwhich, over time, may prove to be even Ram pumps were very popular in the But now a British company, Papa of it being used for transferring significant at zero energy cost.more celebrated - the ram pump: a device early 19th century, but fell out of favour Pumps, is reviving ram pumps with a quantities between regions with a water Not as glamorous as a balloon ride,so simple that it strains credibility. It’s able with the advent of electric versions, which different aim in mind: flood control and surplus and those suffering from drought. maybe – but arguably a lot more usefulto transfer huge quantities of water uphill offered greater flexibility. They continued large-scale water transfer [see ‘Shifting On a smaller scale, Swire even in an increasingly turbulent climate. Photos: xxxxxwithout any external power source at all – to be used on isolated farms, and have streams’, p16]. As Director Hugo Swire envisages them being used for local – Martin Wright12 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 13
  • 8. Thirst quenchers manufacturer, Verstergaard Frandsen. They say they will recoup the $25 million investment through carbon credits, awarded by ClimateCare’s Climate and Development scheme, and others. Soil solutionsJon Turney explores the promise of technology – new and And what about thirsty crops? In areas where rainfall is likely to be adversely affected by climate change,old – to improve water supply in dry climates. more complex arrays of technology may be needed to ensure crop irrigation can go on. Drip-fed irrigation systems, which target plant roots and save water, are catching on fast. They use less than half as much Wherever people live, they will get water Electricity from solar panels readily powers pumps water as traditional irrigation channels, and save somehow. The question is how hard they must work or drives distillation, and many combinations of power labour while increasing yields. Their original developer, to get it, and whether it is good to drink. People in arid and mechanism are on trial. One nearing wider use is Israeli scientist Dr Daniel Hillel, received the World regions have found many ingenious ways of securing a solar pump drive, developed in Switzerland and now Food Prize this year, and since he pioneered the supplies. Bringing safe water to those without easy manufactured by AMRO Technology in Bangalore, method in the 1950s has seen it used on millions of supply – perhaps 800 million, mostly living in rural India. A brushless motor (originally developed at hectares of crops: 2 million in India alone. areas – depends, above all, on money. But an array of Bern University in the 1980s for solar-powered car More recently, simple drip-fed systems have technologies may improve returns on investment. competitions) has been adapted to operate a solar- been updated with the latest in sensors and These need not be new. There is inspiration in powered unit which can be fitted to most types of communications to allow more precise adjustments ancient systems like the underground tunnels for existing hand or treadle pumps. The marriage with to water delivery. In California’s San Joaquin Valley, groundwater irrigation, known as ‘aflaj’, in Oman. existing installations may make them an easier sell, some fruit and vegetable farmers are getting used to They need not be high-tech. The plastic jerrycan and users have the reassurance they can revert to wireless monitoring and control of automated drip feed has revolutionised water collection and distribution human power if the solar electricity fails. The latest systems. A farmer can now check water pressures in many developing countries over the last 30 years, version of the unit is now being tested in seven and flow rates in distant fields from an iPad or phone. helping erode the division of labour that confined countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Ghana and Drip irrigation began in the Negev desert in water-carrying to women. But they need to be robust, Haiti, with results due in next year. southern Israel, one of the driest regions on the reliable, and tailored to local geography, climate Solar power is also an option for cleansing planet. The Negev is also a centre of research into and culture. drinking water. It can be used for direct heating, or desalination. Making salt water usable for crops, or Energy is the key to many efforts to guarantee converted to electricity and stored for later use. even for drinking, can be achieved using a range water supply. Pumping needs power. In coastal areas, Purification which does not rely on high of technologies, but requires a lot of energy, and is or where groundwater is brackish, desalination is temperature is also possible, by filtration – which therefore expensive. At the moment, desalination is Test seasons in 2010 and 2011 saw the new Energy is the energy intensive. Water supply and sanitation are can save money, fuel and carbon emissions. One mainly used to furnish drinking water in countries with desalination plant performing as theory predicted, at key to many always linked, and one simple way to make water of the most impressive initiatives is the Lifestraw plenty of energy, and finds some agricultural use in a pressure 45% lower than a comparable standard contaminated with bacteria safe is heating it – often project (below), which has provided nearly 900,000 Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. reverse osmosis membrane, and using 40% less efforts to to boiling point. households in Western Kenya with a free water filter New refinements in one of the most-used energy. Moreover, the water resulting from this guarantee Arid conditions often go with hot climates, so that removes micro-organisms. Each filter lasts desalination techniques, reverse osmosis, promise purification technique is less brackish, and so can be solar power is a good match for many water projects’ three years, and cleans enough drinking water for a increased efficiency, and may allow much wider use more easily taken up by crops, which means farmers water supply energy needs. It is reliable, getting cheaper, and easy family of five. The project, launched in 2011, includes of the method in less developed countries [see ‘Salt can reduce their consumption. The trials even showed to operate in small-scale, local schemes which are training for householders and for staff in 31 service content’, GF85, p14]. some increases in yield. widely distributed. Installation costs are higher than for centres where faulty filters will be repaired or replaced The physical chemistry of reverse osmosis is The ultimate aim of the project is to prove a diesel generation, but running costs are lower. for ten years. The upfront costs were met by the complex. Osmosis describes the movement of system which will be easy to install, maintain and solvent molecules from water with low particle content finance on small farms in other countries where towards more dense climes. If the vessels are joined there are large areas with no easy access to water or by a semi-permeable membrane, which has pores electricity. The nanofiltration option is also good for small enough to block some particles but still allow crops because it does not deliver water completely water molecules through, water passes from the depleted of ions, such as calcium and magnesium, weaker to the stronger solution, moved by osmotic which are essential for crop growth. As membrane pressure. However, if a strong enough external technology develops further, there is the potential pressure is applied, it can force water the other way: bonus of fine-tuning exactly which dissolved hence reverse osmosis. The result is pure water on chemicals are removed from the water, and which one side of the membrane, and unwanted chemicals remain. This should allow water content to be modified concentrated on the other. to suit particular crop plants. There have been many experiments with reverse Further improvements in membrane performance osmosis for small-scale operations in remote, are supported by lab work on the new material rural areas. One way to improve the process is to graphene – a layer of carbon only one atom thick [see achieve finer control of the membrane. This is the GF82, p13]. Researchers at MIT have calculated that key to a system now being tested in Israel’s Arava graphene pores could be between a hundred and a Valley, an arid region that nevertheless produces thousand times easier for water to pass through than Photo: Michael Macor/Corbis Photo: Vestergaard Frandsen fresh vegetables for export. An ‘engineered oasis’, current membranes, while still retaining dissolved ions. developed by the Ben-Gurion University in the nearby If it works, the latest nanotechnology will offer more Negev, desalinates the brackish groundwater drawn answers to humankind’s oldest need. from aquifers using less energy than conventional systems – thanks to nanofiltration membranes, which Jon Turney is a science writer, and author of can operate at lower pressures. ‘The Rough Guide to the Future’.14 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 15
  • 9. Shifting streams the world’s largest underground network of pipes and currently drawing nearly 40% of supply from its ducts, moves 6.5 million cubic meters per day from an neighbour and paying about1% (US$) for the privilege. ancient aquifer beneath the Sahara Desert – enough Yet while Singapore benefits from access to cheap water that one of the world’s driest countries aspires Malaysian water, its dependency is also a weakness to export crops. And even Libya’s system is dwarfed that Malaysia exploits for political leverage. To escape by China’s ongoing South-North Water Diversion Malaysia’s influence, Singapore has committed to Project, channels that would transfer 23 trillion litres weaning itself off foreign water, opening wastewater a year from the Yangtze and Han Rivers to Beijing and desalination plants to ensure domestic supply. and Tianjin. These hubristic undertakings, however, Singapore isn’t alone: even as some companies have traditionally led to steep environmental costs. and countries employ water transfers to mitigate China’s project has relocated hundreds of thousands against shortages, others focus on conserving of people, and the Han River may eventually be bled water within their own districts. Methods to capture dry by canals. Diversions to cities in the southwestern stormwater, such as Aquifer Storage and Recovery, US have reduced the Colorado River at its delta to a are gaining primacy across the world, and greywater swampy trickle. Water transfers in Australia’s Snowy recycling will soon be standard practice in dry regions. Mountains have choked rivers with silt, spreading And that’s just the supply side. England’s water invasive species and destroying fish populations. companies are adamant that demand-side measures Despite this dismaying record, England’s water will be integral pieces in the country’s forthcoming companies believe they can promote ecological water plan. Yet in a world increasingly dominated health rather than wreak havoc by using transfers to by climate change, they still see transfers as vital comply with the Restoring Sustainable Abstraction insurance, a means of staying flexible and resilient Programme, an Environment Agency initiative to when rains vanish. “We can push and push on the reserve water for aquatic environments. Wessex demand side to reduce leakage and consumption”, Water, for example, agreed to reduce abstraction by says Anglian’s Cook. “But climate change will make seven megalitres from the Chitterne Brook, an unusual it harder to recharge groundwater, and we’re going to chalk stream that hosts juvenile trout. The company need to pursue some bigger interconnections.” plans to compensate for the lost abstraction by linking places in its water-abundant south, like Dorchester Ben Goldfarb is a Master’s student at Yale University and Shaftesbury, to Salisbury and other points further and the editor of Sage Magazine. upstream by 2018.Large-scale water transfers have had a bad rap for Climate change, which portends severe summertime drought and variable rainfall, also Virtual watergood reason. But faced with shortages, more companies motivates companies to pursue transfers. In 2010 United Utilities completed its West East End Link, a 55km-long pipeline that connects Manchester and Pipelines might grab the headlines, but the world’sand governments are importing their lifesource – and the Lakes District so that water can move between regions when one goes dry. “The pipeline’s true test groceries host far vaster transfers each day. Every product, from bananas to beer, requires a certaindoing it responsibly, says Ben Goldfarb. will come as climate change kicks in”, says Richard Blackwell, United’s supply and demand manager. “The quantity of water to create: its ‘water footprint’. When you eat a steak that was raised in Texas, link will be playing an important role in 100 years.” you’re effectively drinking 15,000 litres of the Last April, its reserves depleted by Britain’s “The transfer that we developed could be used in the Moving water between regions, however, is not ‘virtual water’ that went into growing the cow – worst drought in nearly 40 years, Anglian future, if necessary,” says Cook. “It’s important that without difficulty. Even plans that use existing canals water that the drought-stricken state may not be Water was hoping for rain. Summer lay ahead, we be ready for the next drought.” require new infrastructure – pumping stations to able to spare. and, beyond that, the threat of an unprecedented Small-scale water transfers have been occurring lift water over locks, and new treatment facilities to Now governments are starting to take notice third dry winter in a row. If that were to happen, it for decades in the UK. But as population growth process increased volume – which could impede cost- of virtual water flows. “Countries that have would put a real strain on Anglian’s ability to meet the intensifies demand for water, and climate change effectiveness. Companies may be able to defray these traditionally exported goods are realising the need needs of its customers. The company, which services threatens to disrupt supply, companies are starting to energy expenses by diverting their water through to keep their water at home”, says Arjen Hoekstra, 27,000km2 in southeast England, had banned the use think beyond local, ad hoc transactions. Last spring’s hydropower installations. According to Roger Falconer, co-founder of the Water Footprint Network. Saudi of hosepipes; but with no rain in sight, cutting usage drought left England’s water purveyors contemplating Professor of Water Management at Cardiff University, Arabia has announced plans to halt the export of wasn’t going to bridge the shortfall. There was no way more frequent and formal trading arrangements to England should look beyond its own borders to vegetables grown in open spaces over the next around it: Anglian would need more water to ride out a ensure their districts never dry up. alleviate scarcity. Citing a 2010 report by engineer five years to conserve water; Israel discourages drought stretching into 2013. A nationwide trading network may arrive next John Lawson, Falconer advocates flowing water from the export of thirsty crops like oranges, and Spain To Anglian’s west lies Severn Trent Water, whose year, as the UK Government has mandated that water the River Severn to the Thames and enlarging Wales’ is using water footprint analyses to manage district had not been nearly so afflicted. With Severn companies submit a long-term plan for managing the Craig Goch Reservoir in order to import water via the industries in its river basins. Trent still flush, and Anglian’s supplies diminishing, the country’s resources by March 2013. While measures River Wye. “In principle, we could enact this plan right Wet countries are embracing virtual water for two companies began negotiations on the transfer for reducing consumption, such as repairing leaky now, using existing rivers and canals,” says Falconer. a different reason. “South America has the largest of water from one region to another. Their proposal infrastructure, will factor into the plan, water swaps And while some Welsh environmental groups virtual water resources”, says Hoekstra. “Exporters would have seen navigation canals and the River Trent may well be central. object to the export of their water, other people there can’t compete from a carbon footprint perspective, but from the used to transfer enough water from Birmingham, in “The idea is to identify surplus within the see it as a path to prosperity. John Jones, a former standpoint of water footprint, they’re sustainable.” Hoekstra advocates labeling Photo: Ron Chapple Studios/thinkstock Severn Trent’s area, to the Humber Bank, in Anglian’s, system”, says Luke DeVial, Head of Environment executive at Welsh Water, told the BBC last April that products with their water footprint to help consumers make savvier choices. to supply 100,000 homes. and Resources at Wessex Water, “and then all Wales’ best use of their abundant H2O might be to While Hoekstra acknowledges that sometimes carbon and water footprints Photo: Photodisc/thinkstock Heavy rains arrived before the scheme was companies can enter detailed negotiations and treat it like oil –– and sell it, at a tidy profit, to their can clash – for example, growing biofuels may help reduce carbon emissions, enacted, and now, says Mike Cook, Anglian’s Head consider trading options.” English neighbours. but also uses a lot of water – he doesn’t think the conflict is irreconcilable. of Water Resources, the company’s reserves are England isn’t alone in pursuing transfers as a If the UK needs a guide to the promise and peril of “Wasteful societies use too much of everything,” he says. “More efficient trade recharged. But while it won’t have to buy water path to water security. California has conveyed water international agreements, it should look to Southeast leads to smarter use of both water and carbon.”Above: from its neighbours this year, the negotiations have from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Los Angeles via Asia. Singapore, which has few water resources ofCalifornia’s Aqueduct prepared Anglian for dry spells in years to come. aqueduct since 1913. Libya’s Great Manmade River, its own, has long relied on Malaysia for its water,16 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 17
  • 10. Cash flow IT and telecoms sectors who had not previously worked in the water sector [see box]. From start-up to global operator But is the flow of money sufficient to fix the problem, and are VCs the best source? Jacob i2O Water Tompkins, Managing Director of WaterWise, an In 2006, i2O’s founders received funding from angel investors (individuals independent body that promotes efficiency, affirms or groups looking to fund start-ups). It later won backing from a that the water market offers great returns for consortium of VCs led by Swarraton Partners. Its smart water gridInnovative start-up companies are helping to stem investors. But he feels that the involvement of only a few specialist VCs (such as Aqua Resources, technology was initially taken up in the UK by Severn Trent Water and Yorkshire, and is now in use by 14 other UK water companies. There arethe tide of water leakage and make waste pay. But Emerald, Ombu, Pictet and Swarraton) pursuing short-term returns means the sector is still a long also over 900 installations in 20 countries outside the UK. i2O offers IT systems to monitor and automatically adjust pressure inwhere is the funding coming from and who stands way from unlocking the full potential of efficiencies and savings that can be made. water networks in response to fluctuating demand. The process is claimed to reduce system leakage by an average of 20%, and pipe bursting byto profit? Bob Cervi investigates. Big investment firms have the means to pour a 30-50%, while customer minimum pressure requirements for water flow great deal more cash into the sector, says Tompkins, are met “99% of the time”. Water companies using the process save but they won’t do this because of their short- energy too, as less is needed to pump water around the system. termism: “Investment in water supply and other In a world where water is becoming increasingly than £246 million of funding for water technology services can make huge amounts of money but the Bluewater Bio scarce, venture capital (VC) investors are beginning companies over the past five years. problem is that the big investment funds aren’t doing Bluewater Bio’s patented biological treatment system, HYBACS (hybrid to sit up and take notice. They are putting their Why this upsurge? For a start, investors this because it would mean a payback period of 20 bacillus activated sludge), won backing from VC groups Aqua Resources money into technologies that promise to increase recognise that, all over the world, water is becoming to 30 years. But we do need big investments from in 2010 and Ombu in 2012. It was first applied to a sewerage treatment the efficiency of water services, thereby cutting a scarce resource. At the same time, there is these funds, for the long term, if new technologies plant in South Africa in 2009. A $20 million contract to upgrade and costs, reducing energy consumption and offering growing publicity surrounding waste from leaking are to make a real difference in delivering significant expand a plant in Bahrain followed, and was completed in 2011. In potentially strong returns on their investments. pipes, prompting consumers to question why they sustainable innovation.” January 2012, Severn Trent Water became the first customer in the UK. According to analysts Global Water Intelligence should restrict their use, and shifting the spotlight Tompkins argues that, in the UK, a government- HYBACS offers biological treatment of wastewater from domestic, (GWI), around $237 million (£146 million) of venture to inadequate infrastructure. Helge Daebel of backed, public-private ‘water fund’ would help to agricultural and industrial sources. Effluent produced from the system is capital funding was invested globally in water Switzerland-based Emerald Technology Ventures, generate the big investment needed to significantly claimed to be less harmful to the environment than other treatments and can technology companies in January to August this a VC that invests in water-industry start-ups, also improve water infrastructure. But there is no sign of be used to irrigate agricultural land, provide material for landscaping, and year. Levels of investment ranged from £160,000 to remarks that more start-ups are coming forward support from the Government for such a fund yet. reclaim desert land. HYBACS is said to reduce energy use and cut capital £37 million – with companies developing membrane now than when he started taking an interest in water Nevertheless, VC-backed water start-ups have investment and operational costs. filtration to treat wastewater at both ends of the around six years ago. He believes this growth has helped utility companies cut waste and increase the Bluewater Bio also acquired start-up firm Water Innovate, a spin-off from scale. While funding is focused on Europe and North been largely driven by the availability of know-how efficiency of their networks, and have now taken Cranfield University School of Water Sciences. America, there are also signs that Asia is becoming and talent from other industries, such as IT. Software their technologies to other continents [see box]. a growing water technology market. GWI notes that developers have realised that automated control Some utilities are also spotting the potential of TaKaDu industrial corporations, such as BASF and ABB, systems that can be applied to water networks working alongside start-ups. TaKaDu was founded in 2008 by Amir Peleg, an Israel-based are increasingly investing in water technologies. and make even leaky pipelines more efficient. For example, Anglian Water has set up the entrepreneur who used advanced mathematics and software to increase Extractive industries (oil, gas and mining) are also Many specialist software solutions for managing Water Innovation Network (WIN) to spot potential the efficiency of water networks. With support from VCs including showing an interest in water, says the London water networks are spin-offs from IT companies or solutions among the newcomers as well as the Emerald Technology Ventures and ABB, it now has installations across Environmental Investment Forum. It estimates that university research departments. One successful more established supply chain companies. WIN the world, including one with Thames Water in the UK. these heavy water users are responsible for more start-up, TaKaDu, was set up by experts in the manager Vaibhav Tyagi says that about 150 It offers real-time monitoring and reporting of problems arising in water submissions from start-ups have been considered networks – leaks, bursts, flow and consumption anomalies, meter faults to date, with around four or five of these going on and maintenance needs. Water companies can accurately pinpoint and to trial/exploitation stage. react quickly to such issues as they arise. According to TaKaDu, studies One start-up that Anglian is already with working conducted by its customers show a 250-400% return on the costs of the with is i2O Water [see box]. Adam Kingdon, its co- technology, taking into account only measurable direct benefits, such as founder, believes that water companies are getting savings in water or labour costs. Additional benefits include efficiency, better better at identifying and responding to innovations maintenance and meeting regulatory targets. from new organisations. He says i2O has doubled its sales figures in each of the past three years, with annual revenues now around £5 million. Given the structure of the utility sector in the UK, water companies can’t do all the research and development that a commercial business might undertake. To stay ahead of the game, they need creative partnerships with more nimble companies. WIN is now helping such companies to see their solutions rapidly implemented by utilities, thanks to new fast-track frameworks. “Anglian Water has an innovation department, which collaborates with other utility companies as well as the supply chain companies, and there are Photo: istockphoto/thinkstock Photo: Photodisc/thinkstock industry-wide initiatives for this”, Tyagi explains. Enough change to herald a new wave of collaborative innovation? Watch this space. Bob Cervi is a freelance journalist and editor.18 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 19
  • 11. How many than blackwater, requires less treatment, and developing world will be where innovation in water doesn’t have the same infrastructure needs. In reuse will have the biggest impact – something theory, greywater from homes could also be used that’s already caught the eye of Bill and Melinda to flush toilets and water gardens. Gates, who last year put US$3 million towards Though it’s far cleaner than blackwater, ‘Reinventing the Toilet’. The challenge was toshades? greywater does still need to be handled with care. develop a toilet that would, for just five cents a day, “Even if it’s filtered, the organic content in greywater work without power, plumbed water, or a sewer means that if it’s not chlorinated then stuff can grow line: in effect a cheap, simple blackwater recycling in there over time”, says architect Tyler Caine. system. The winning toilet, designed by a team The challenge with domestic greywater is one from the California Institute of Technology, is solar of scale – the kit needed is disproportionately large powered, and uses an electrochemical reactor to for the application, making systems too expensive treat waste while producing hydrogen – for a fuel and complex for domestic applications. “Greywater cell – and fertiliser. The water is disinfected and can is more viable for commercial buildings than for be reused for further flushes or to irrigate land. residential applications,” says Caine, and indeed The potential for water reuse to improve quality that’s where the action is. of life and reduce our pressure on the environment The Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park is significant. Ultimately, every drop we reuse is a is a recent addition to the New York skyline, and drop we leave in the ground. the world’s first skyscraper to achieve the highest, platinum certification from LEED (a rating system Michael Ashcroft is an energy technology and policy for the environmental performance of buildings). analyst, and freelance writer. The building captures greywater from basins – which, with the help of more traditional low-flow toilets and waterless urinals, saves nearly eight million gallons of water per year. One Bryant Park also collects every drop of rainwater that falls on the site – some 48 inches per year. Much of the water collected at One Bryant Park is used to supply its cooling towers, so most of it returns to the atmosphere. This provides a double benefit for a city’s infrastructure. “If you’re collecting rainwater to use on your site, not only are you helping the efficiency of your building, but everything you collect is water that’s not going intoMichael Ashcroft goes back to black to see the sewer system”, says Caine, who worked on One Bryant Park. This is especially valuable in citieswhat we can reclaim from waste water. with older sewer systems that combine waste pipes with storm drains: heavy rainfall can cause the sewer network to overflow into rivers. Another potential role for wastewater reuse Most of the water you use ends up in the same While the recycled water is almost as clean lies in industry. ArjoWiggins Graphic, who produce place: the sewer. We take river water, turn it into as tap water, it isn’t meant to be safe for human the recycled paper for Green Futures, use water tap water, use it for washing, drinking and flushing consumption. “The water we provide from Old Ford treatment and purification systems at their mills, toilets, empty it into a sewer, clean it, and return it for the Olympic Park is distributed via a dedicated which has helped reduce water use by 15% to the river. But what if, instead of putting treated water pipe system that is entirely separate from over five years. “Wherever possible, water is effluent back into the river and wash it out to sea, potable water pipes”, says Rutter. “Thames Water recycled and re-used up to 12 times, before being we could put it to good use again? also monitors the network and checks to see this biologically treated and discharged into the water Let’s start with the most uncomfortable part of water remains disinfected.” stream – in a cleaner condition than when it first Water isn’t this story: the toilet. Any water that contains human Water isn’t the only resource that can be entered the mill”, says Shannan Hodgson from the only waste is called blackwater, and requires the highest reclaimed from sewage. A number of water ArjoWiggins Graphic. level of treatment. Though it’s not a pleasant companies, including Wessex Water, are harvesting Meanwhile, the Pasteurization Technology resource thought, it can be recycled. This summer, Thames methane from the treatment process, which can be Group has developed a technology that goes one that can be Water’s Old Ford plant recycled water directly from used to generate electricity and heat. The process stage further. Not only does it clean industrial London’s sewers, providing enough water for the takes place in an anaerobic digester, which uses wastewater without chemicals: it also generates reclaimed Photos: orange fields: Comstock/thinkstock / DenGuy/istock Olympic Park to flush toilets 80,000 times per day. bacteria to convert organic matter to methane. enough energy to power itself. As the solid waste from sewage This cut the Park’s demand for tap water by up to At its Avonmouth treatment works, Wessex has in the water breaks down, it releases biogas, which 58%. To achieve this, Old Ford combines traditional installed an additional process, called acid phase is captured and burned to drive a combined heat sewage treatment methods with those used to digestion (APD), to enhance the amount of methane and power turbine. Heat from the turbine supplies turn river water into tap water. “Raw sewage goes generated. Before the installation of APD, the energy to disinfect the water by pasteurisation, through a number of treatment processes [before plant was generating 20GWh/year; afterwards, this while a heat exchanger transfers energy back from it is supplied to the Park] – settlement, screening increased to 30GWh/year. The treatment site is now the resultant clean water to the incoming waste Photo: istockphoto/thinkstock and secondary treatment”, explains Paul Rutter, self-sufficient in power use, and a net exporter of stream, reducing energy needs by over 97%. The Thames Water’s Sustainable Resources Manager. electricity to the grid. plant is effectively powered by the very wastewater “Part of the secondary treatment uses a membrane Reclaiming greywater – from hand basins, it cleans. process to separate solids. The water then passes showers and washing machines – is another way As yet untested, the technology could also through activated carbon for colour removal and to reduce the amount of water we draw from rivers have applications across the developing world, is chlorinated.” and aquifers. Greywater is more easily collected where access to electricity is limited. In fact, the20 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 21
  • 12. Mouth watering Addressing these supply-side risks calls for innovation. Experiments in drought-resilient crops provide a case in point. PepsiCo, for example, is currently researching water-efficient varieties of potato for use in crisp manufacture. In a similar vein, General Mills has been pioneering anOliver Balch finds out how the food and drink advanced drip irrigation system with broccoli and cauliflower growers in Mexico.industry is rising to the challenge of dry times. Even more important than innovation, however, is collaboration. Multiple sectors are involved in using water, and they also need to be involved in conserving it. In the UK, Wessex Water is working with farmers – Many might envy Andy Wood. He oversees a controls are finding their way into more than 300 MS on land outside its own catchment area – to reduce successful regional brewery. He counts some of the stores. It’s even trialling waterless urinals. the amount of treatment groundwater needs due to UK’s leading retailers among his customers. And he the presence of pesticides and nitrates in the soil. gets to work in the picturesque town of Southwold These pollutants can be removed at specialised on the Suffolk coast. Water chains treatment plants, but building and operating them is The success of Adnams – which produces In-house measures are only part of the story. The bulk both expensive and carbon intensive. Such a plant around 85,000 barrels of cask ale a year – is not of the water footprint for big retailers occurs in their was planned for Eagle Lodge, in Dorchester, but without effort. Nor is it necessarily permanent. Over supply chains. A value chain analysis by the UK’s the need for it was overcome when farmers worked the last ten years, the Suffolk brewer has installed a largest supermarket, Tesco, found that its own stores closely with a Wessex adviser to improve some range of resource efficiency measures to ensure its account for only 3% of its total water use. elements of their practice, from manure management on-going efficiency. In July, Anglian Water Business held the Global and the use of fertiliser, to the drilling dates for crops. Back in East Anglia, specialist lettuce producer As with many food and drinks companies, water Water Challenge: a major conference for companies Similarly, in Kenya, a multi-stakeholder education Jepco is taking a high-tech approach. The firm has comes high on the list. Southwold is located in East and stakeholders to share strategic thinking on project, supported by retailers MS and Tesco, is installed Enviroscan probes that detect electrical Anglia, the UK’s driest region. Earlier this year, the water use in the supply chain. Louise Nicholls, Head working with farmers and local residents to improve conductivity resistance to measure soil moisture county was subject to water restrictions as low rainfall of Responsible Trading for Food at MS, spoke water stewardship at Lake Naivasha, the country’s during the entire growing period. The data can be threatened an extended draught. about the role of water in the responsible sourcing second largest freshwater lake. The project aims to monitored via computer or smartphone, and is then “As a mid-sized business, we need to keep an of food products, and the need for businesses to re-establish a healthy ecosystem, in which plants fed through into the mobile boom used for irrigation. absolutely tight control over our costs”, Wood says, engage upstream. MS has committed to improving and micro-organisms treat the water through natural The location and water use for each pull of the boom highlighting a major driver for water-dependent efficiency and stewardship in four parts of its supply processes, avoiding ground pollution. is subsequently recorded as well. industries. chain that are particularly vulnerable to water stress: For collaborative approaches to succeed, Kuyk calls on businesses to take an integrated The construction of a new distribution site and cotton production, dye houses, farming and food companies must win the hearts and minds of local view of water-related risks and impacts across Even more brewery back in 2006 and 2007, respectively, gave manufacture. people, insists Mike Barry, Head of Sustainable product lifecycles. US beverage giant Coca-Cola has important than Adnams the opportunity to upgrade its on-site water At the same event, Phillip Hubbert of specialist Business at MS: “Of all the sustainability challenges opted for just such a strategy. Under its Community efficiencies. Rainwater harvesting and grey water lettuce producer JE Piccaver described the significant that we face, water is the most location-specific. It Water Partnerships programme, it’s pursuing over innovation is recycling systems are now standard. Its anaerobic investment the company has made in water defies one technology fix.” 300 community-based water replenishment projects collaboration digester for wastewater veers closer to cutting-edge. efficiency, such as developing targeted irrigation With this in mind, the retailer has worked with in 86 countries. Further up the chain, water reduction The East Anglian brewer hasn’t left things there. techniques and installing rainwater storage. It is now environmental charity WWF to produce a 16-page measures in its factories have seen the water use It has linked the water inputs for its distillery and its looking to improve water use in offices, warehouses guide to Good Water Stewardship. Its aim is to ratio drop 16% since 2004, to 2.6 litres per litre of brewery – essentially cutting its water needs in half at and packing centres. “As is often the case when you influence MS’s global network of around 10,000 product. By the end of 2012, meanwhile, Coca Cola a single stroke. do things for economic reasons, it turns out to be the agricultural producers. The document clarifies the is requiring all its bottlers to have water management Adnams today uses around three pints of water sustainable route as well”, he said. nature of water-related risks – physical, financial, plans in place. for every pint of beer produced: that’s almost half the The case is particularly clear when it comes to political and reputational – and outlines strategies for Dax Lovegrove, Head of Business and Industry industry average. Its water efficiency has won the eye agriculture, which of all global sectors, is by far the engaging local partners. As Barry explains, “Beyond at WWF, is also a strong advocate of holistic of some of the UK’s big retailers, who are “interested largest user of water. As Marcus Norton, Head of providing a broad framework [for farmers] to explore approaches to water management. To be successful, themselves with the sustainability story”, says Wood. Water and investor climate change programmes at water conservation, we can’t lecture from an office in however, companies must have a clear idea of their One of those is Marks and Spencer (MS). the Carbon Disclosure Project, explains: “Growing London, saying in India you do X, and in South Africa impacts from the off. That requires a comprehensive Under its Plan A strategy, the UK high street retailer raw ingredients accounts for much more water than you do Y.” assessment of water abstraction and pollution in is seeking to decrease its own water consumption. [food] processing or brewing. This is where much of Andrew Kuyk is Director of Sustainability and critical river basins. Innovations like sensor taps, flush valves and urinal the risk lies.” Competitiveness at the London-based Food and Among the examples he cites is that of global Drink Federation (FDF). Asked for examples of locally- brewer SABMiller [see box]. Back in 2009, the specific solutions, he points to Nestlé in the Punjab. company worked with environment group WWF The Swiss food conglomerate is encouraging local and consultancy URS Corporation to map theGoing local: SABMiller dairy farmers in the north Indian state to intensify milk water impacts of its businesses in South Africa and production and thereby reduce water use. A wider the Czech Republic. Anyone interested in water“Water is a global challenge, but the solutions Sustainable Development at the beverage be replenished. The move has seen the fodder area, more lactating cows, and higher cow footprinting their operations would do well to checkare all local.” That, in a nutshell, is the company, cites a project in the Indian state of groundwater rise by nine metres already productivity are some of the ways in which this is out the methodology in the subsequent report.thinking behind SABMiller’s flagship Water Rajasthan. Agricultural and industrial activity – equivalent to the needs of SABMiller’s being achieved. As Lovegrove concludes: “Leading businessesFutures initiative. in the region has severely impacted the water brewery in the area. In the same region, Nestlé is working with the understand this is less about water efficiency in Operational in nine countries, from table. To remedy the situation, SABMiller “This is about ensuring that our breweries International Water Management Institute to minimise isolation and more about understanding local Photo: Peter Simard/CorbisColombia and the US to India and Zambia, has helped fund four water recharge dams. have long-term access to high quality water”, the water footprint of rice production. It takes 1,034m3 situations and mobilising collective efforts tothe initiative aims to develop collective Located on natural fissures, the relatively says Wales. “But to achieve that, you can’t of irrigation water to produce a tonne of rice in the ensure water security for all: communities,solutions to pressing water risks in cities low-cost structures retain the monsoon just deal with the brewery. It has to be about Punjab – almost twice that for dairy farming. Among wildlife, and industry.” Photos: xxxxxand watersheds. Andy Wales, Head of rains long enough for the aquifer below to the value chain and the watersheds.” the measures being implemented is laser-assisted land levelling, which reduces groundwater pumping Oliver Balch is a freelance journalist specialising in by one-third while also improving rice yields. the role of business in society.22 Green Futures October 2012 Green Futures October 2012 23
  • 13. Water Works is a Green Futures Special Edition,produced in association with Thames Water,Anglian Water, i2O and Wessex Water.Thames Water, serving London and the Thames Valley, is Editor: Anna SimpsonBritain’s largest water and sewerage utility. Every day Editor in Chief, Green Futures: Martin Wrightit supplies 9 million people with 2.6 billion litres of water Production: Katie Shawand treats 4 billion litres of sewage from 14 million Design: The Urban Ant Ltdcustomers. It is also the biggest renewable energy With thanks to Jenny Hammond, Ulrike Stein and Polly Wheldon.generator inside the Printed by Pureprint, using their environmental technology and vegetable-based inks, on 100% recycled and FSC certifiedAnglian Water Business provides water and wastewater Cocoon Silk paper, supplied by Arjowiggins, expert technical help and engineering solutions,to businesses throughout the east of England. We are Published October 2012.dedicated to helping our customers to reduce their water © Green Futuresconsumption and associated energy use and carbon Reg charity no. 1040519emissions. Find out more about our services at: Company no. VAT reg. no. 677 7475 70i2O’s Advanced Pressure Management offers the world’sleading solutions for optimising water distribution networkperformance. It delivers six benefits to water companies:leakage reduction, burst frequency reduction, loweroperating costs, improved customer service, energysavings and extended infrastructure lifespan. South EastWater, Veolia Water, Severn Trent, Yorkshire Water andAnglian Water, and hundreds of water networks in Asia,Europe, the Middle East and South America all use i2O’s Front cover: Stocktrek Images/thinkstockpatented system. Back cover: istockphoto/thinkstockwww.i2Owater.comWessex Water provides water to more than one millionpeople and treats sewage from more than 2.5 millioncustomers living in an area stretching from Bristol toBournemouth and from Minehead to Futures is the leading international magazineon environmental solutions and sustainable futures.Founded by Jonathon Porritt, it is published byForum for the Future, a non-profit organisation workingglobally with business and government to create asustainable By printing this publication on Cocoon Silk 100% recycled paper the environmental impact was reduced by: 718 kg of landfill, 18,741 litres of water, 1,764 kWh of electricity, 78 kg CO2 and greenhouse gases, 1,166 kg of wood. Subscribe to Green Futures Order Water Works online Keep up to date with the latest To order more copies of Water Source: Carbon footprint data evaluated by news and debate on how to make Works, or to download a pdf FactorX in accordance with the Bilan Carbone® the shift to sustainability in print version, visit: www.greenfutures. methodology. Calculations are based on a and online, by subscribing to comparison between the recycled paper used Green Futures: versus a virgin fibre paper according to the latest We’d love your feedback on European BREF data (virgin fibre paper) available. or contact our subscriptions Water Works. Results are obtained according to technical team direct: Please email our editorial team at: Photos: xxxxx information and are subject to modification. Tel: +44 (0) 1536 273543 Green Futures October 2012