Area managing director for Grundfos Kostas Poulopoulos on improving sustainability across the region’s water infrastructure network.

Published: 5 May 2020 - 4:45 a.m.

Providing access to clean water efficiently is a big challenge facing the Gulf region as we strive to balance our growing thirst for water with efforts to alleviate the impact of climate change.

Rapid development and population growth across the Middle East means we are now using up our water supplies at an unsustainable rate.
Even though we have access to just 1% of the world’s fresh-water resources, we continue to withdraw our groundwater faster than it can be replenished.

To address the shortfall, we have turned to desalination, but does this offer the long-term solution we are seeking?

The Middle East is already producing 70% of all the world’s desalinated water, however, the production processes are highly energy intensive, which increases our carbon footprint, threatening sustainable development.

Add to this the global climate crisis, with the increasing severity of extreme weather events making our water cycle much less predictable and water quality less reliable, and we can begin to see the depth of the challenge we all face for the future.

We urgently need to improve sustainability across our whole water infrastructure as a first step in addressing our water situation and, ultimately, climate change, as the two are inextricably connected.

Where do we go from here?
We need to re-evaluate our water and wastewater infrastructure and retrofit where necessary using a much more sustainable template.

We must optimise water intake and use the water we have more efficiently – reducing wastage and creating systems to enable much greater control over treatment and distribution.

And we need to urgently address our wastewater handling and treatment systems to increase water reuse and recycle.

Can Grundfos help?
Yes, we are the pioneers for creating sustainable water solutions, we have been driving innovative technology and development for 75 years.

As world leader in water and climate solutions, we have pioneered breakthrough technologies in areas such as digitalisation and cloud computing and combined these with leading edge engineering and new materials to create intelligent, highly efficient pumping systems.

From pumps designed to optimise water intake solutions to digital water treatment systems, smart water distribution systems and automated wastewater networks, and more – our new generation e-solutions collect, treat and distribute fresh water and wastewater while minimising wastage and cutting energy use by 60% and over.

We continue to work closely on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals SDG6 and SDG 13, which aim to bring fresh water to all and address climate change by the end of this decade, and alongside national and regional governments, water utilities and building designers and operators to focus on solutions that not only optimise availability and use of water, but do so in a way that helps to protect our environment and resources.

‘Outside the pump’ thinking
Many of the innovations that Grundfos has introduced have come from looking outside the pump.

We’re harnessing the power of breakthrough technologies, including digitalisation and artificial intelligence, to enable us to pioneer a completely new generation of integrated pumping systems that are ultra-efficient and capable of making effective decisions automatically to or within the system.

We’ve achieved it all by looking at what customers want and need, rather than what we can traditionally produce. So now we are asking everyone within the industry to do the same.

We want manufacturers, engineers and utilities themselves to take a step back and look at what needs to be done to make our networks more sustainable. Only by doing this will we develop the new thinking and new technologies needed to make a step change in the efficiency and sustainability of our systems.

Bringing sustainability to the people
At the end of day, we can develop the most efficient components, harness the most effective new technologies, but they will not be successful unless people want them.

We as a community and as industry professionals need to embrace sustainability and understand clearly how it will make a difference in our everyday lives, how it will ensure that we leave a world fit for our children.

We need to become advocates in own communities – to carry the sustainability message to everyone.

We need them to look for sustainable solutions and make sustainable choices, not only for our water, but in every aspect of our daily lives.
We need to find ways to overcome hurdles, change short term thinking and ensure we look at the bigger picture.

Our high efficiency pumping systems, for instance, may involve slightly higher cost initially, but they pay this back, many, many times during their life – often repaying the initial outlay in a matter of months.

Make your choice
Before we can persuade others, however, we need to be 100% on board ourselves.

Now is the time to make your choice – do you want to help eliminate the water and climate challenges that face our people?

Do you want to use your capacity to help lead the world towards a more sustainable future?

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