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🗣️ Water as a Resource Around the World

Words on Water

Photo by Mike Enerio / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Tom Kunetz | Former President | Water Environment Federation
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[10:46] “I've been to, at this point, 50 countries outside the United States. […] [One] thing that I learned […] is how much water […] is valued around the world. I traveled for five weeks in China in 1990. Now remember, this is a time before the internet, before we had laptops and cell phones and so on. […] One of the things that I noticed is how much water was not valued in that country. Now, I can't say the same now, things of course have been modernizing and changing. But I saw rivers that were so polluted, you could almost walk on them. And the water was so dirty that the people of the country themselves could not drink the water. […] Water had to be boiled, I had to be very, very careful to sanitize any utensils that I used or any type of food I touched. […] The sense of water, as the importance of it, was really not on the forefront.”

[13:32 “Today, I travel to places like South Korea, and Singapore and Japan, Indonesia. And I see there that water is so much a part of their national policies, […] which now we might say is even beyond advanced beyond would see in the United States. […] Water sometimes in the US becomes an afterthought [like], how are we going to get water there? How are we going to treat the wastewater? […] It's an afterthought. It's a problem. Whereas in parts of Southeast Asia, it is part of the policy. They start with the water, and then build the development around that. And you can see places like Singapore, which is becoming self-sufficient in its water, for decades had to buy its water via pipeline from Malaysia. And now it's saying it's so important for our independence to create our own supply of fresh water. So those are some of the things that I noticed the different approaches in saying how important water is that we're even going to make it part of our national policies.”

[15:20] “I was at a conference in Sri Lanka and one of the things they talked about, we start with saying, water is a human right and so on, is then to recognize the gender part of this, which I didn't really think of coming from North America. But the women say, you have to include us in your decision making, because if you don't, all these little things that you don't think about that that women need, whether it has to do with raising children, or the health and hygiene, they don't count for those things. […] And for those women, it affects the going to school, […] their education, […] their future, […] their home life. And so, including the right people in [creating policies] that think about it beyond the technical side, [is] imperative.”

[18:54] “[When] we talk about resource recovering in the water sector, […] we know many of these things like the pulling up the nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen, like Chicago was doing and creating fertilizer out of that, or gathering the the the bio gas that comes off of digesters and using that to produce electricity. Biosolids themselves [are] a tremendous resource that is so much better than commercial fertilizers. […] The water itself is a resource [and] in many parts of the country that water is a precious precious resource. […] But then I also want folks in the water sector to realize this is just a piece of the bigger picture in our entire society. It's not just those parts of the water sector, we need resource recovery. Think about all of the trash that goes into a person's trash bin, everything going into a landfill, how much of that can be reused? […] A fellow trustee, […] coined this phrase back in the 1970s: […] There is no such thing as a waste, just a resource out of place.

[20:36] “If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. […] And that's the same thing with resource recovery. We have to measure it and say how much of this we are doing, and then publicize it. Let it be known that we are doing this, so others who are not [see that they are] falling behind, […] so that the people who make decisions put the funding into it and recognize the importance of this. This is why WEF developed this program a few years ago called the ReNEW Program, […] the n, e, w stands for nutrients, energy, and water, […] the basic components that we are recovering from the used water. And the concept behind this is to go out and measure all of these 15,000 wastewater facilities across the US and then eventually to Canada and to say, we're going to all use the same system for measuring the same metric, the same approach so that we're all doing everything on an apples by apples basis here. And then publicize that. So we can see from year to year, how are we doing as an industry? How are we doing as a region? How are we doing as individual utilities? So it's used on an individual basis to say, how can I do better next year?”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 32 min | 🗓️ 05/17/2021
✅ Time saved: 30 min