Singapore’s International Water Week 2008

asia, economy, international, research, technology, water privitization, water trade

Singapore is hosting International Water Week from June 23rd to June 27th of 2008. This first-annual event is to be held as a forum for “government officials, industry leaders and water specialists” to discuss policy, business, and water technology. Festivities of the week encompass a Water Trade Show, a Water Summit, and presentation of the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize to an innovator in the field of water technology.

In 2006, Singapore began wide-spread governmental investments in water technologies to accelerate economic growth in the water sector. No doubt hosting two-hundred exhibitors of water technologies will be great way for the country to stay abreast of additional investment opportunities.

However, several main sponsors of International Water Week include multinational corporations with questionable environmental and water management track records including:

Enterprising steps in the field of water technology are fundamental to ensure available water supplies now and into the future.

Does sponsorship of International Water Week by the above organizations make this event any less important? Not necessarily, but maybe it does mean that we should pay closer attention to these companies and their water management standards.

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Saltwater Farming and an End to Rising Seas

agriculture, audio, climate change, technology

One man claims an idea that will deter damages of rising seawater influenced by climate change and produce biofuels capable of powering your vehicle without one drop of freshwater. Sound to good to be true? You be the judge.

Atmospheric scientist Carl Hodges of the Seawater Foundation has two novel ideas: absorb rising seawater through recharge of defunct aquifers with seawater and saltwater farming of Salicornia bigelovii for biofuel production. When speaking of farming of salicornia during a public radio interview on MarketPlace:

They pack as much high-quality vegetable oil as soybeans, making salicornia an ideal biofuel crop — and a highly profitable one. Especially if the fertile effluent from those shrimp farms we saw from the air is used as the irrigation source.

– Carl Hodges

Listen to the full interview entitled Seeing opportunity in rising oceans here:

World Economic Forum 2008 Wraps Up with Water

agriculture, asia, climate change, drinking water, economy, industrial, international, technology, united nations, water trade

Water was a major topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum 2008 (WEF) now coming to a close in Davos, Switzerland.

At the forum, according to the Environmental News Service, Bill Gates announced a grant of $306 million dollars for development projects to help boost yields of crops for farmers in developing countries. It is unclear whether a portion of this money will be devoted to water conservation practices in conjunction with agriculture. Also discussed was implementation of a cap and trade system for water supplies and the importance of market forces in water allocation.

Leaders at the forum pledged renewed support for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, of which one goal is to increase access to safe drinking water.

Created as a venue for dialogue, research, and networking among economic and political leaders, the WEF is often criticized for more talk rather than action, a membership majority of industrialized countries (primarily USA, Europe, and Asia), and limited media access to specified plenary sessions.

While members of the WEF did review the importance of water in the coming age, no definitive plan was drafted to move our global society in that direction. However, maybe discussions during the event will leave lasting impressions on these economic leaders. And gradually, they will come to the realization that water is more than a commodity, but a necessity of life.

Be sure to check out other blog posts on this issue… our friends at WaterWired give additional perspective on how water was incorporated into the WEF agenda.

Webcasts from this forum are available on the Podcasts, Video, and Web-Mediapage on this blog, as well as on the WEF website.

For an insiders look at the WEF 2008, check out this NPR story: The Wacky World Economic Forum.

Singapore: Water Technology Clearinghouse

asia, economy, technology

Previously, on this water web-log, we have heard of Israel’s attempts to become the next “Silicon Valley” of water technology. Right on schedule, other investment minded countries are jumping on-board.

Singapore has stepped-up with hopes of being a major water-technology provider for Asian countries, as reviewed on Earthtimes. The island of Singapore, south of Malaysia, began serious investment inquiries of the water industry in 2006, with major political funding aimed at such measures. And, a track-record of being able to provide sustainable supplies of water to citizens in a water scarce country, certainly helps to poise the country to step into such a role with ease. China is already beginning to take much interest in this small city-state’s ability to utilize water technology.

Downtown Singapore sky-line (at the entrance of the Strait of Malacca), photo courtesy National Geographic.

Floating Nuclear Water Desalination

drinking water, international, technology, water desalination

Yes, you read correctly. Floating nuclear water desalination, and it is one of many proposed solutions to the coming water crisis. These reviews on Earthtimes and C-Net delve into a few details about this type of project, but essentially the concept is to harness excess heat produced in the nuclear process to run desalination plants (while the whole contraption floats in the ocean).

Immediately, many problems arise in my mind as I evaluate this concept:

  • What about the contamination of water supplies with radioactivity?
  • Nuclear power plants are not environmentally sustainable. Should we even continue to utilize nuclear energy?
  • Is it wise to locate nuclear power plants in the ocean on a floating device? What about emergencies or the collapse of the structure? Would that mean drifting nuclear contamination?
  • Is a floating nuclear reactor in the middle of the ocean a secure place for nuclear materials? Would there be a circle of submarines acting as security for this sudo-building?

These are just a few of my questions, and I am sure that you can come up with many more.


Not an actual nuclear desalination plant, for illustrative purposes only.  Photo gimped by Moon.

Israel’s Stance and Expanding Water-Technology Markets

international, technology, water trade

If you pay attention to international water issues, you will soon realize the small country of Israel is slowly attempting to make a name for itself in the field of water technology. In fact, Israel recently hosted an international water technology conference, WATEC, from October 30 to November 1 of 2007.

Israel, though lacking in natural water resources, is exporting its water technology across the globe, billing itself as the “Silicon Valley of water technology,” in the words of Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer.

Israel hopes to increase export revenues from water technologies to 2 billion US dollars by 2010. The Israeli government has just launched a program to maximize technical knowledge of desalination, water purification, irrigation systems, water treatment, reclaimed water, water security, and water infrastructure.

Given the increase in global water scarcity, Israel is one of many entities ready to step into an open-economic playing field to double their dollar in the field of water technologies.

This report, Growing Markets for Water and Wastewater Technologies, issued by BCC Research, likely explains markets available for growth in the water technology sector, but specifics of the report are not known because I could not afford to pay the $4850.00 to purchase a copy (yes, the water technology industry must be growing…). However, one of the report highlights states:

The expenditures for municipal water and wastewater applications were $8,066 million in 2005, $9,575 million in 2006, and $11,290 million in 2007. They are expected to grow at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2% and reach $39,709 million by 2012.

We can apply the economic model of supply and demand very clearly to the water scenario. As demand for water increases, the price of water (water technologies, etc.) on the world market will also increase. Consequently, there will be an accrual of entities hoping to profit on the commodity of water, alas we are seeing such happening presently.

Author’s Postscript: This post highlights global water technology markets and Israel’s current standing in such world markets. However, there are many critical water issues relating to Israels continued occupation of Palestinian territories in areas of the region with greater access to water.

Additionally, Israel maintains water technology, yet continuously fails to supply Palestinians with assistance for development of water infrastructure or access to reliable water supplies.  In the near future, I will attempt to address these issues.

Kid Power = Well Water

technology

Kids twirl around on a Merry Go-Round while water is pumped into a large reservoir holding tank. The PlayPump, under PlayPump International, is not cheap by any means at 14,000 dollars for one system, but is supposed to be more efficient and fun than a traditional hand-pump. Currently, there are over 700 installed and plans to install 4,000 more in rural locations in arid Africa by 2010.

Check out this blog post on Alcateia Design Group News for an interesting view on the system.

Drink water from a mud-puddle.

technology, water treatment

You could if you used the Lifestraw, a $3.00 personal water filtration device.  This filter was created for those in rural areas without access to clean water, and it removes waterborne diseases including 99.9% of bacteria and 98.7% of viruses for every 700 liters (app. 185 gallons) of water. It will filter bacteria like Cholera or viruses like Parvovirus. But it will not filter heavy metals or parasites like Giardia. See Treehugger for a brief description of this invention or the Lifestraw website for more detailed information. And try not to forget to check out this super blog post on the same issue.

Children using the Lifestraw

Free Web-based Tool for Companies to Measure Water Use

technology

This is really neat, and it was just unveiled at World Water Week in Stockholm in August 2007. It is the Global Water Tool, a free tool available for companies, organizations, or governmental agencies to measure water-use both at the place of business and through the supply chain. The tool is intended primarily for businesses with international reach, but would also be applicable for a smaller entities wishing to evaluate water consumption. The first step of conservation is having an accurate view of actual use. The tool includes a download portion using Excel and on-line mapping portion.

Will micro-financing or micro-franchising increase the use of water purification in homes in developing countries?

asia, technology, water treatment

This is a question faculty and students from University of North Carolina School of Public Health, the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the Kenan Institute-Asia will attempt to answer. They will be working primarily in the Mekong Subregion of Asia. It is a main goal of the project to make available household water filters to those with no access to clean water in the home. Another aim of this research is to find a way to increase the long-term sustainability, viability, and use of these technologies. Micro-financing and micro-franchising are two models being evaluated for increasing long-term sustainability.

One way we hope to enable these technologies to reach scale is to provide small loans to people who wouldn’t qualify for conventional loans, and help them franchise small businesses. We’ve found that giving the filters or other technologies away is not sustainable and doesn’t really promote the continued use of the technology. We believe we can find models that will be successful in getting point-of-use (home) water purification products into the homes of people who need them

It will be interesting to follow the progress of this research in the Mekong Sub-region. For more information on this research, please see the press release issued by UNC.