In the Spotlight: Water Experts Take on World Water Day

On this World Water Day, we have gathered insights from leading industry experts who emphasize the urgent need for collective action to address water-related challenges.
In the Spotlight: Water Experts Take on World Water Day

As we commemorate World Water Day, it's imperative to underscore the critical importance of water conservation and equitable access to clean water sources worldwide. Here, we share the perspectives of esteemed industry experts who recognize the paramount importance of water stewardship. Their collective wisdom underscores the urgency of addressing water challenges and driving sustainable solutions.

From innovative technologies to community-driven initiatives, these experts advocate for holistic approaches that prioritize conservation, efficiency, and equitable access. Their diverse insights serve as a blueprint for collective action, guiding us towards a future where water scarcity is mitigated, and every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

Water Today

1. How do you assess the current state of global water resources, particularly in terms of availability, quality, and accessibility?

Rajneesh Chopra – Independent Advisor & Consultant

Global Water sources are distributed in a very uneven manner globally and the reality is that the quality of freshwater sources is (just 3% of the total water on earth) deteriorating gradually mainly because of untreated water being discharged by municipalities and industries polluting both surface as well as groundwater. Over-extraction of water from freshwater sources is also leading increase in the percentage of impurities in it. Higher evaporation and uneven precipitation due to global warming are affecting the quantum of fresh water as well.

Alex Nazareth – Innomotics India Private Limited

Over the last few decades, there have been several challenges to water resources across the globe, posing significant threats to mankind. The major causes are water pollution, over-extraction, climate change, loss of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, water governance and management issues, population growth and urbanization.

Addressing these challenges requires coordinated efforts at local, national, and international levels, focusing on sustainable water management practices, investment in infrastructure, pollution prevention measures, climate adaptation strategies, and equitable water allocation mechanisms. Additionally, promoting public awareness, fostering collaboration among stakeholders, and integrating water management with broader development goals are essential for ensuring the long-term health and sustainability of water resources.

Gopal Madabhushi – Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

Water scarcity has been a global issue for years, and the crisis is quickly worsening. This incredible resource isn't just essential for sustaining humans with hydration drinking purposes — it supports agriculture, industry, and the environment. Situations around the world approach crisis levels.  In Mexico, roughly 60% of the country is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought. Experts theorise that the city may run out of water in months.

This is not an isolated issue as similar scenarios are repeated in cities and communities all over the world. The World Wildlife Federation reports that 66% of the global population is likely to face water scarcity by next year and that water scarcity threatens $58 trillion in economic value annually.

On this World Water Day, we need to understand how urgent the situation is and start acting. This year’s theme is “Water for Peace,” and water can be the key to unlocking stability and prosperity in the world, especially in the face of growing scarcity and there’s no better driver for committing to an ecological transformation to make this planet a better place for all.  We already have the technology, knowledge and experience to use water reuse as a tool to fight back against this growing challenge.

Vishal Mehra – Thermax Limited

"Water is the essence of life, and our duty is to protect and preserve it for future generations." Water resources are being polluted and degraded through various means, including industrial pollution, salinization, and over-exploitation by domestic, agricultural, forest, and industrial uses.

The availability, quality, and accessibility of water resources have become major concerns worldwide because of these issues. To address and tackle these challenges, it is crucial to invest in sustainable water management practices, prioritize conservation efforts, and promote efficient use of water resources. Efficient industrial wastewater treatment plays a critical role in water quality management. It is imperative for industries to achieve sustainable wastewater recycling to the maximum extent possible. Ideally, zero liquid discharge (ZLD) of all liquid streams should be targeted. In ZLD, wastewater is treated and reused, and residues are concentrated and disposed of in solid form.

N P Singh – Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

A comprehensive approach is needed to assess the aspects asked for:

Water Availability: Water availability is the primary aspect of water security. It involves ensuring there is enough water to meet diverse needs while also being sustainable over time despite climate change and other factors. The assessment of water availability includes factors like river water flow, precipitation, health of the catchment area, aquifer recharge, water withdrawal, environmental flow requirements, and the ratio of total water withdrawal to water availability.

Water Quality: Water quality is essential for safe use. It involves ensuring that water is free from contaminants and safe for consumption. Assessing water quality includes monitoring microbial and chemical contaminants.

Water Accessibility: Water accessibility is about ensuring that everyone, regardless of their societal and economic position, has access to safe and affordable water. Affordability includes factors like transport, storage, and regulation.

Access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation is considered a human right, yet many regions still lack access to these basic services, highlighting the ongoing challenges in ensuring water accessibility.2.

3Rs - Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce are three keys for industries to reduce their water and energy footprint
N P Singh - Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

2. How can industries effectively reduce water consumption and minimize wastage in their operations?

Gopal Madabhushi - Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

Water reuse on a large scale can help preserve our natural water resources and create sustainable solutions that support the local environment. Several processes go into water reuse to ensure high water quality in treatment facilities.

Reuse follows a continuum that allows communities and organisations to advance their infrastructure and build a foundation that improves their water availability well into the future. Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions creates innovative solutions using a core set of technologies — like reverse osmosis (RO), activated carbon, ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (NF), ozone, ultraviolet (UV) and membrane bioreactors (MBRs) — to support its clients at every stage of the continuum.

Vishal Mehra - Thermax Limited

Industries can become water stewards by adopting a two-step approach. Firstly, they can minimize consumption by monitoring current water use, optimizing processes through automated processes, identifying faults and rectifying them at an early stage. Thermax Edge Live® is an innovative IIoT solution for sustainable water management. It integrates all the customer’s industrial assets and can perform data analytics at the click of a button, which will help them optimize processes and increase the efficiency of their utilities. Secondly, wastewater can be treated and reused within the industry through recycling systems, reducing reliance on freshwater sources. These initiatives not only safeguard a valuable resource but also yield cost savings. Moreover, regular audits to evaluate water usage patterns and identify areas for improvement can further optimize processes and facilitate the implementation of conservation measures.

N P Singh - Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

3Rs - Reuse, Recycle, and Reduce are three keys for industries to reduce their water and energy footprint. Organizations should adopt the methods and technologies of low water requirements. Whatever water is available should be recycled and reused.

The use of digital technology helps in tracking and monitoring the usage, wastage and availability of the water. A lot of education and practices are required to change the behaviour and to understand cause and effect.

Rajneesh Chopra - Independent Advisor & Consultant

Industries have to mandatorily resort to Reuse and Recyle so that the water requirements are limited to just makeup water. The water use in the industrial processes needs to be benchmarked with the best in the world and gradual targets have to be set up to reduce per capita consumption in the process. 

Alex Nazareth - Innomotics India Private Limited

Industries have a significant role to play in the better management and usage of water, considering their substantial water consumption and potential environmental impact. Here are several ways industries can contribute:

Water Efficiency Measures: Implementing water efficiency measures within industrial processes can significantly reduce water consumption. This includes optimizing production processes, upgrading equipment to use water more efficiently, and implementing closed-loop systems to recycle and reuse water within the production cycle.

Wastewater Treatment and Reuse: Industries can invest in wastewater treatment technologies to treat and recycle wastewater generated from their operations. Treated wastewater can be reused for non-potable purposes such as cooling, cleaning, and irrigation, reducing the demand for freshwater resources and minimizing discharge into the environment.

Implementing pollution prevention measures can help industries minimize their impact on water quality
Alex Nazareth – Innomotics India Private Limited

3. In regions facing water scarcity, what are the most impactful strategies for industries to ensure responsible water usage while maintaining productivity?

N P Singh - Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

A multi-pronged approach is needed to address the issue of water in the areas of scarcity.

As mentioned earlier, 3R is the primary key, enabled by digital monitoring and smart systems, behavioral reinforcement. At a broader level, integrated water resource management should be adapted considering the entire water cycle, from source to disposal, and coordinating with various stakeholders like government agencies, industries, and communities.

For water-scarce areas, efficient water storage and transport might also be required. Rainwater harvesting and, latest technologies like air to water should also be adapted based on the cost economics.

Alex Nazareth - Innomotics India Private Limited

Industries have a significant role to play in the better management and usage of water, considering their substantial water consumption and potential environmental impact. Here are several ways industries can contribute –

Adoption of Sustainable Practices: Embracing sustainable practices throughout the supply chain can help industries minimize their water footprint. This includes sourcing raw materials from sustainable suppliers, reducing the use of water-intensive inputs, and minimizing waste generation through recycling and resource recovery initiatives.

Pollution Prevention and Control: Implementing pollution prevention measures can help industries minimize their impact on water quality. This involves adopting best practices to prevent or reduce the release of pollutants into water bodies, such as implementing proper containment measures, installing pollution control devices, and implementing spill prevention plans.

Vishal Mehra - Thermax Limited

Understanding the concerns of depleting vital resources, the economical and wise use of natural resources is necessary. Rather than relying solely on groundwater and surface water extraction, emphasis should be placed on reuse and sustainability. The way industries are embracing recycling is exemplified by one of our customers based in Udaipur, India. Here, they are effectively recycling the sewage water from Udaipur City and utilizing it for their industrial operations.

Industries that are blessed with abundant seawater, can think of it as a viable source of water supply. With innovative advancements and technological upgrades in seawater desalination, Thermax emerges as the ideal solution provider and anchor for industrial demands. Through desalination, industries can access a new and abundant source of water, reducing their dependence on freshwater resources. This shift can ease the strain on current water sources and foster sustainable water management practices.

Gopal Madabhushi - Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

In response to the increasing number of converging crises across the world, Veolia is coming up with solutions to guarantee tomorrow's water services. Securing access to water and wastewater services, optimising how they are managed and ensuring continuity of service are the watchwords guiding Veolia’s strategy in this area. Against the background of converging worldwide crises that call into question two centuries of progress in water provision, Veolia is today designing the water services of tomorrow.

Population growth, rampant urban growth, increasing volumes of water withdrawals by farming and industry: demand for water is growing rapidly around the world, at a time when a third of the largest groundwater resources are already over-exploited.  There are also new threats to face: terrorist attacks, with waterways, treatment plants, and networks becoming potential targets, and extreme weather events, which are occurring with increasing frequency. Against this background, Veolia works to ensure secure access to water and deliver the quality and quantity demanded. The Group also works hard to optimize the management of infrastructure and networks using digital tools, and to ensure continuity of service to its industrial and municipal customers thanks to a range of new modular offers.

In some parts of the world, the Persian Gulf countries for example, where there are few if any freshwater resources, desalination is not simply an add-on to water from surface and underground sources: it's the only source of drinking water.

Rajneesh Chopra - Independent Advisor & Consultant

In water scare regions one has to necessarily resort to industrial/municipal collaboration to treat 100% treated water from STPs and use of the same by industries for production other than portable purposes. In case the treated water from STPs is in excess the same needs to be used for horticultural/ agriculture applications to prevent freshwater use.

Reuse and Recycle are well demonstrated in the industrial sector the same can also be complimented by zero liquid discharge to improve water efficiency and pollution abatement 
Rajneesh Chopra – Independent Advisor & Consultant

4. What regulatory frameworks or policies have proven effective in promoting water conservation and responsible water management practices within industrial sectors?

Gopal Madabhushi - Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns aims at improvement in urban infrastructure in towns and cities in a planned manner. It has proven to be effective in ensuring the execution of the existing schemes of Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) and Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP). However few areas of improvement could be as follows:

  • It is important to regulate informal vendors supplying water to the urban poor as currently there are no regulations and it puts a limit on the tariff charged by informal vendors.

  • The major function of the authority handling water resources is to determine, regulate and enforce the distribution of entitlements for the various categories of use and the distribution of entitlements for water.

  • The UWSS sector in India suffers from low-cost recovery, poor operations and maintenance, high non-revenue water losses, a huge volume of untreated water discharge, poor governance, low tariffs and depleting ground table.

  • The rate of extraction of groundwater has exceeded the rate of recharge in many urban localities such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Jaipur.

  • This led to falling groundwater levels, in turn increasing the demand for energy and other infrastructure to pump groundwater.

Vishal Mehra - Thermax Limited

Good water governance is the key for the sustainable management of water resources, which is important for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and particularly SDG 6, which specifically deals with water and sanitation. There are various regulatory frameworks and policies in place at the national as well as state levels. India has been committed to SDGs right from when these were adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. Despite the enhancement of regulations by regulatory bodies, there remains a pressing need to enforce these rules and regulations across all industries for the proper disposal of wastewater.

Rajneesh Chopra - Independent Advisor & Consultant

Regulatory policies that have proven to be effective are:

  • Rainwater harvesting based on catchment areas for industries and commercial areas. 

  • Recycle & Reuse of the water recovered from effluent treatment in the factories.

  • Use of treated water from STP for thermal power plants, If the STP is in a 50 km radius is a good alternative to save fresh water. Since thermal power plants are the biggest guzzlers of water it needs to see faster adoption. 

 Alex Nazareth - Innomotics India Private Limited

By taking proactive steps to improve water management practices, industries can not only reduce their environmental footprint, but also contribute to broader efforts to achieve water security and sustainability for present and future generations.        
Corporate Water Stewardship Initiatives: Engaging in corporate water stewardship initiatives can help industries collaborate with stakeholders to address water challenges in their operating regions. This may involve participating in multi-stakeholder partnerships, supporting community water projects, and advocating for sustainable water policies and regulations.        
Transparency and Reporting: Increasing transparency and reporting on water use, management practices, and environmental performance can help industries track their progress, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate accountability to stakeholders. This includes disclosing water-related risks, impacts, and mitigation measures in sustainability reports and corporate disclosures.

Compliance with Regulations: Ensuring compliance with water-related regulations and standards is essential for industries to minimize their environmental impact and maintain their social license to operate. This includes adhering to discharge limits, obtaining permits for water withdrawals, and implementing measures to protect water quality and ecosystems.

N P Singh - Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

We have seen more failures than successes if we review the regulatory frameworks implemented in the past.

To make the regulatory framework successful, effective education on the topic is the step that should followed by regulation implementation. A carrot and stick policy can work for industry and in the region of comparatively less stress.

For highly water-stressed areas, an equitable distribution system should be implemented first and then a regulatory framework should come.

Wastewater treatment not only improves water quality, but also increases water availability, which is essential for achieving SDG 2 and SDG 6
Vishal Mehra – Thermax Limited

5. How can industries contribute to achieving global water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what initiatives are currently underway in this regard?

Vishal Mehra - Thermax Limited

Industries can contribute to SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) by implementing effective wastewater treatment systems. Wastewater treatment not only improves water quality, but also increases water availability, which is essential for achieving SDG 2 (zero hunger) and SDG 6. Many companies are adopting zero liquid discharge (ZLD) systems, like those utilizing multi-effect evaporator (MEE) and mechanical vapour recompression (MVR) technologies, to drastically reduce wastewater discharge. Thermax's ZLD system, powered by MVR technology, emerges as a pivotal process in eliminating wastewater discharges. Additionally, it is energy efficient and requires no external steam, resulting in lower operating costs. This system is contributing significantly to industrial sustainability efforts.

Rajneesh Chopra - Independent Advisor & Consultant

ESG implementation has already started for the top 1000 industries in India and the ratings have to be made public.  The same needs to be done up to MSME level both for water and energy. This will lead to a lower water footprint for industries and a lower energy footprint will also contribute to lower water consumption. Gradual targets and monitoring will lead to water use efficiency and ensure water security for industries. 

Alex Nazareth - Innomotics India Private Limited

Water is essential to our health, our economy, and our environment, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that it is used and managed sustainably. By valuing water and taking action to conserve and protect it, we can create a more resilient and prosperous future for ourselves and future generations. By aligning the business with the SDGs, implementing sustainable practices, and fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, industries can make a positive impact on the world.

At Innomotics India, we take pride in being a part of one of the world’s largest multi-stage lift irrigation projects on river Godavari spanning 500 km, 13 districts and 1,800 km of canal network. This project produces 240 TMC of water for irrigation, potable and industrial use. Innomotics and its partners have supplied automation, instrumentation and drives along with services for engineering, site erection and commissioning for this project which has been fully operational for more than three years now. Implementation of lift irrigation systems has emerged as a transformative solution, revolutionising agricultural practices and contributing to enhanced crop productivity for farmers in water scares areas leading to higher yields and improved income.

N P Singh - Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

It is a vast topic. In short, industries can contribute by water conservation measures, 3R, adapting sustainable practices.

The Government, industry bodies like CC, FICCI and government bodies like SEBI are pushing for essential declaration of SDG /BRSR activities on quarterly basis to big, listed corporates. Some smaller organisations need to do it on volunteer basis. Exercising this in the long run, there will stringent norms from here on.

Gopal Madabhushi - Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions 

At Veolia Water Technologies, we are committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. Around this premise revolves our Multifaceted Performance.

We are a major contributor to 11 of the 17 SDGs and will continue to contribute to all SDGs wherever water is concerned. Since September 2015, when all United Nations member states adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, our collective global progress has been slow. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, has called for a decade of action to ensure we meet the global targets we set ourselves. We all need to take responsibility and act today — not tomorrow — to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

We have established our contribution to the international community’s sustainable development agenda, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. At Veolia Water Zone, as part of our ongoing mission to resource the world, we create specialised water treatment technologies and services for sustainable development. Our team designs and delivers drinking and wastewater treatment plants as well as developing water treatment equipment for industrial and municipal customers. Owing to this, we are providing access to water for more and more people, while helping to preserve this precious resource for future generations.

Our Few initiatives:

  • Improving access to resources

  • Preserving resources

  • Replenishing resources

Innovate to transform our social and business models, and guarantee their "net zero impact" in the long term, including eco-design, bioconversion, and CO2 capture and storage
Gopal Madabhushi – Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions

6. What innovative technologies or strategies can industries implement to reduce water consumption and minimize their environmental impact?

Rajneesh Chopra - Independent Advisor & Consultant

Reuse and Recycle is well demonstrated in industrial sector the same can also be complimented by zero liquid discharge to improve water efficiency and pollution abatement. 

Vishal Mehra – Thermax Limited  

For over five decades, Thermax has been a driving force in industrial wastewater management solutions. We understand the critical role industries play in water stewardship, and we're dedicated to helping them operate more efficiently and sustainably.

Our commitment to water extends far beyond simply providing solutions. We've consistently been at the forefront of water treatment technology, introducing groundbreaking innovations like zero liquid discharge based on MVR technology, seawater desalination plants, decentralized sewage recycling systems, and Thermax Edge Live®, an industry-leading digital solution that connects all your industrial assets, providing real-time data insights.

Over the years, our solutions have served industries reliably, aligning with our ongoing commitment to a better tomorrow.

N P Singh – Mann+Hummel Water and Membrane Solutions

Industry and ecosystem are actively working to innovate new products and systems which can save more water, can be more efficient, and reduce CAPEX and OPEX.

Alex Nazareth – Innomotics India Private Limited

Investing in research and innovation can lead to the development of new technologies and processes that improve water management practices in industries. This includes developing advanced water treatment technologies, innovative recycling solutions, and sustainable production processes that minimize water use and environmental impact.

This is where the technology and expertise of Innomotics play a crucial role by enabling efficient water extraction, distribution, treatment, and management processes. Our specialized motors and drives can contribute to the water industry in several ways:

Water Treatment Processes, Pumping and Distribution: Motors and drives are used in various water treatment processes, such as filtration, disinfection, and chemical dosing. Our drives and motors power pumps, mixers, aerators, and other equipment used in the treatment process and in the pumping and distribution process.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: By supplying energy-efficient products and solutions, Innomotics enables water utilities reduce their carbon footprint and achieve sustainability goals. High-efficiency motors and VFDs significantly reduces energy consumption in water pumping and treatment systems, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits.

Innovation, R&D and lifecycle support: Innomotics drives innovation in the water industry by developing new technologies and solutions tailored to the unique needs and challenges of water applications. We continue to focus on R&D efforts to continuously make improvements to our product performance, reliability, and longevity in water-related environments.

Pump Storage Hydro Power: Our technologies play an integral role in ensuring the entire process works efficiently to address Low Demand cycles and Peak Demand cycles, driving de-carbonization and effective use of renewable energy resources. Our domain knowledge in lift irrigation and starting Frequency Converters (SFC) operations is critical to the success factor of such initiatives.

Gopal Madabhushi – Veolia Water Technologies & Solutions 

Climate change, resource depletion, biodiversity loss, multiple pollution sources... these urgent issues have propelled the ecological transformation challenge to the top of Veolia's priority list. We know that half of the ecological solutions already exist and that the other half still needs to be invented. Driving ecological innovation with and for all our stakeholders is the pathway to addressing these challenges and allowing everyone to meet their biological, human and social needs with the aim of improving living standards and sustainability on our planet.

Repair, Adapt and Transform: Innovate to repair the consequences of the ecological debt in the short term, such as cleaning up pollution, recycling waste and restoring biodiversity. Innovate to adapt to extreme weather conditions in the medium term, while anticipating the future imbalances and disruptions that could potentially be caused by adaptation solutions, such as the soaring growth of the electric vehicle market. Innovate to transform our social and business models, and guarantee their "net zero impact" in the long term, including eco-design, bioconversion, and CO2 capture and storage.

Four Priority Fields to Drive the Ecological Transformation Strategy: To sustainably manage our increasingly depleted resources, Veolia is leading the way to new material loops. To convert each item of waste into a resource, we are working alongside our customers and partners to develop new processes for encouraging eco-design principles, upcycling manufacturing by-products, improving product recyclability, reusing wastewater and promoting bioconversion.

To tackle climate change, we are masterminding new carbon-free energy services bringing superior performance and resilience. The aim is to ensure continuous and long-term access to an energy source with minimal greenhouse gas emissions.

To protect our health against new forms of pollutants, we are inventing leading-edge solutions to combat pollution, improve indoor air quality and guarantee micropollutant-free water.

To ensure that demographic changes and new climate issues do not stand in the way of greater quality of life for everyone, we are looking for new food chain models and solutions to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Editor Remarks: As we reflect on the insights shared by industry leaders, let us reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding this vital resource and working together towards a more sustainable water future for all. The views expressed by industry experts on World Water Day are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or endorsements of our organization.

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