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
After decades of isolation, Myanmar is welcoming investments and technical expertise from international organisations. Its water and wastewater sector needs to be built up from scratch. Will Myanmar be able to avoid the mistakes made by countries in the region? Continue reading
Pollution of America’s drinking water is in the news again. 15 years ago, when I saw the Oscar-winning Erin Brokovich, it opened my eyes to the horror of industrial water pollution in the developed world. Continue reading
A look at the utility invoices sent out to consumers in many cities makes it clear why water is an under-valued resource. The unclear language and confusing acronyms do nothing to educate or inform. Some invoices do not even specify whether they use actual readings or estimates. These pieces of paper seem to be designed to negatively impact the consumers’ trust in the water quality and their willingness to pay. Continue reading