White Paper Overview
Overcoming Global Barriers to Reuse as Part of an Integrated Water Portfolio
Black & Veatch’s Reuse Roundtable Series White Paper
Climate change, dwindling resources and population growth, among other pressing challenges, create a mandate for the water industry to overcome barriers to water reuse in order to secure adequate and sustainable future water supply.“The most valuable asset a water utility has is the trust of the community.” Ozwater Participant
That was the focus of a series of high-level roundtable discussions Black & Veatch organized and hosted at or during six major global conferences from October 2009 through June 2010. Bringing together approximately 75 water industry thought leaders from 13 countries, the discussions set out to delve deeper into issues commonly seen as potential barriers to reuse as part of an integrated portfolio.“To be good stewards, we need to have the mindset that there is no wastewater, only wasted water.” SIWW Participant
Panelists openly shared invaluable knowledge, insights and best practices surrounding reuse not only for potable use, but also for other domestic, industrial and agricultural uses. The resulting discussions were captured and summarized, revealing a set of broad and far reaching challenges. Hurdles around financing, regulation, health risks, technology (from multiple perspectives), public communication, sustainability, and individual and local circumstances were topics explored throughout the series. Despite each panelist representing a variety of public, private and academic experiences from geographic regions with demonstrably diverse water and economic resources and options, compelling commonalities were identified.
Importantly, no challenge was concluded as insurmountable, and four key recommendations emerged for water utilities and other industry leaders to consider:
- Work together to overcome existing public misconceptions through clear, consistent and continuous communications about water reuse and its place within an integrated water portfolio.
- Emphasize the value of recycled water as a sustainable resource that will help meet future demands on the water supply.
- Take a more integrated and open-minded approach to portfolio management when developing water resources for customers.
- Call for more streamlined regulations and clearer guidelines around standards in order to improve industry knowledge of the impact of water reuse.
Better controls, data monitoring, public education and portfolio management, as well as continuously learning from best-management practices and models around the world, were also viewed as important in overcoming barriers.
The global series was effective in emphasizing that to meet future water supply needs, utilities cannot overlook reuse as a part of an integrated portfolio. The path to make this possible is not straightforward, but it is achievable. Underpinning progress is the adoption of a more integrative mindset by all parties and then complemented through simple steps like more frequent sharing of best practices to better promote understanding of the complex issues.