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🔬 "Clean Water & Sanitation"

Talk Water - BlueTech Research Podcast Series

Photo by Mélissa Jeanty / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Paul O’Callaghan
Guest: David Lloyd Owen | Author
Category: 🔬 Research

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[5:16] “[The often quoted 780 million people that don't have access to drinking water] is actually a rather vague and meaningless number, because […] it's improved or basic water, which is actually water, which is unfit to drink. The number that really matters is safe drinking water. There, the total is closer to 2 billion […] and for sanitation, 4 billion. So we live in a world where the majority of people do not have access to safe sanitation. That is the scale of reality, as opposed to the presumed problem.”

[6:35] “A large number of middle class people in developing countries [that] will most certainly use tap water for washing, the flushing and so on and so forth. But they would not trust that water. So either they treat it at home, or they use bottled water. In Mexico, for example, the per capita consumption [of bottled water] is exceptionally high. In California, you find that actual consumer spending on bottled water is greater than spending on tap water and sanitation services, which is a rather odd state of affairs.”

[7:35] “Discretionary spending is an extremely important element in water finance. So if consumers do not perceive that they're getting an adequate service from utilities or lack of access, they go for alternative sources, whether it's bottled water, point of entry, point of use, and so on […]. As a result, it means that spending is being diverted away from the utilities, unless utilities can regain and build public confidence and ally that with access to safe services, it means you start going into danger of having a vicious spiral of declining money being spent on utility services compared with the alternatives.”

[8:42] “Funding is the central challenge. People are ready and willing to pay a sensible, affordable demand for services. Quite often politicians, though, have ideas about access to free water or access to subsidized water, which actually acts as an impediment on funding. So first of all, we need to have the willingness of governments to take on funding and translate that into projects, their willingness to communicate to the public what they get for their money. And […] even then, we still have an essential gap between terrorist income and the amount of money which needs to be spent, not just in delivering a new structure, but in maintaining it. Unless we can get around that gap the Sustainable Development Goals will now and forever always be just over the horizon of practicality and affordability.”

[12:44] “What you actually find is that when people don't have access to municipal projects, and so on, they have to use informal providers who provide water services at a higher, far greater cost. It can take up to 25% of household income to get safe water from informal services. So, there is a desire for people to spend money, a reasonable and affordable amount of money on a good service. The gap, therefore, is the ability and the willingness to meet that desire.”

[16:47] “If the wastewater is not treated, that impacts both the natural environment and the water cycle and the availability of safe water itself. Likewise, the need to quantify the amount of water countries, people and industries use is a central and long term planning for demand. The old paradigm of supply management in other words, it doesn't matter, we'll just try and truck as much water from various sources towards the problem is an anachronism. We really now need to say, how can we make demand today and demand in the future fit?”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: “SDG6 – Clean Water & Sanitation – How Innovation Can Lift us out of Water Poverty”)
🕰️ 23 min | 🗓️ 07/21/2021
✅ Time saved: 21 min

Additional Links:
Book: Global Water Funding (David Lloyd Owen, 2020)