Towards a sustainable water future

Poul Due Jensen - The Philippine Star

(Second of two parts)

Sustainable wastewater management is one of the Philippines’ key focus areas for effective water governance – the government back in 2010 had developed a roadmap to achieve universal water and sanitation services coverage by 2028. To address issues of universal water and sanitation services coverage, reliable and intelligent technology will be critical in enabling this transformation.

With water movement and treatment processes being highly energy intensive, pumps account for a significant amount of energy consumption. Therefore, energy efficiency in wastewater processes is not only important for effective wastewater management but also plays a crucial role in driving sustainability and costs down. Smart wastewater systems can also meet the demand for freshwater by detecting and preventing combined sewage overflows and chemicals in wastewater.

Industry players such as Grundfos are complementing the government’s efforts by introducing new technologies to address the country’s unique challenges in wastewater treatment. Notably, Grundfos worked with Lio Tourism Estate to support their wastewater management efforts. Through applying intelligence to their wastewater management process, they are now able to operate sustainably, creating energy and cost savings with a space efficient, reliable solution.

Wastewater treatment also allows us to get the most out of used water by harnessing it repeatedly. Freshwater is one of the most precious natural resources that is getting scarce day by day. By treating and reusing wastewater, this in turn reduces water consumption, further saving water for the community.

Water smart in buildings and homes

Beyond municipal water systems, we need to go further into examining the buildings and homes that make up these cities, with more than half of the country’s population of over 100 million now residing in urban areas. However, existing systems are not equipped to meet today’s challenges, highlighting the enormous need for increased investment in water infrastructure.

Water plays many roles in our buildings, from cooling, heating, fire protection and landscaping. Hence, it is imperative for us to examine how we can reduce the impact of our built environment, especially in the face of rapid urbanization.

Through the Internet of Things, advanced real-time data collection and sensors, water networks can access information that allows them to operate in a more predictive manner. This not only optimises resource use but also helps reduce downtime, further avoiding serious business and environmental consequences.

Technology can also empower the Philippines at a household level. In response to the Manila water crisis back in 2019, a rotational water supply scheme was implemented so people in the affected areas could store water. While this helped ease the crisis in the short run, a more informed and longer-term approach to citizen action is needed to effectively tackle this issue.

Digitalization and data at home can help inculcate a culture of water conservation by increasing an individual’s awareness of their own water usage – effectively empowering them with “water-wise” behavior. The advancement of smart home solutions today now means that homeowners can enjoy a sustainable home that is both energy and water efficient, and not worry about sacrificing convenience or comfort.

The future of water

In order to work against the trajectory of global warming, our climate action efforts need to focus on efficient water management. The next 10 years is a critical period to build resilience and shape our water systems to meet ongoing challenges and be prepared for future crises similar to the pandemic.

This transition not only calls for a number of technological changes, but also acknowledging that everyone has a part to play – whether it is the government, businesses, communities, or people, moving from passive consumers to playing a more active role in managing our water demand wisely.

By ensuring a collective approach in addressing the gaps in our water systems, we can achieve a sustainable transition that pays off for the whole nation.

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