For years, I have been reading about the need to conserve water – to use lesser water to brush, bathe, wash and irrigate plants. I have also read a great deal on the need to recycle water – how used water from toilets can be reused for gardening, how used water from washing machines can be reused to clean floors and so on. In Singapore, where I live, NEWater has become such an important source of water that during the prolonged dry spell of 2014, rationing of water to citizens was avoided mainly thanks to the facilities for recycled water. Singapore has also gone out of the way to change the paradigm by referring to wastewater as “used water”.
But, somewhere at the back of my mind, I wondered what would happen to the supply of recycled water if people began to concertedly conserve so much that they produced lesser wastewater and consequently there was not enough water to recycle. Continue reading
“Finally a speaker who is not a man! Yay!”
This was an anonymous comment from a delegate in the interactive digital platform at SIWW Spotlight 2017 held in Singapore that brought together water utility leaders from around the world. As the comment flashed on the big screen, more yays were added to it with assenting laughter all around. The comment came in the wake of a keynote presentation by Professor Joan Rose of Michigan State University, who later sat in a panel discussion with five men.
When the question of women managers in the water sector comes up, I am always a conflicted. On one hand, I do want to see capable women in important roles – as engineers, managers, utility chiefs and CEOs, but on the other hand, I do not want them to be chosen merely because they are women. I have seen these feelings echoed by many female water sector leaders. Continue reading
I had hung up my towel on the rack for reusing. The usual placard in the Delhi hotel bathroom said only towels on the floor would be replaced. But when I returned to my room at night, I found a new towel in place.
That was in 2013, the year when 35 five-star hotels were given notice by the Delhi government for using 15 million litres of water per day of municipal supplies. Half of these hotels did not have a dedicated sewage treatment plant. It was one of the hottest summers and Delhi residents were suffering disruptions in water supply.
Tourism-related water use is very small as a percentage of total water used in countries. And yet, the local picture is entirely different. This is because it competes for the same water used by the local population. Continue reading
Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-ruling monarch (1946-2016) has passed away. For Thais who are less than 70 years old, he was the only king they ever knew – an adored father figure and a unifier. But the water sector will remember the king for an unusual achievement – rainmaking. Continue reading
By now, we all know that cities account for more than half the world’s population. Come 2050, it is expected that another 2.5 billion people will move from villages to cities. In China alone, more people that the whole population of the USA today will move into cities by 2050. These are mind-boggling numbers and present a scary picture of the future liveability of cities or rather the lack of it, especially in South and Southeast Asia.
Already, we see how a day of intense rain causes havoc with flooding. The inexorable march of climate change is bringing more intense rain at odd times or no rain at all. The ‘heat island’ effect of cities with bumper-to-bumper traffic jostling for space with humans gets accentuated during times of no rain. Continue reading