End-users must be empowered to deliver water resilience

By Poul Due Jensen, CEO of Grundfos


Recent news has been awash with reports of an impending water crisis in Europe, with a winter drought worsening an already serious situation. C40 Cities, a climate-focused coalition of 40 global cities, has forecast that flooding- and drought-related costs worldwide will exceed $194 billion per year.

Today is World Water Day, one of many awareness days. Inundated by seemingly endless calendar hooks, we could be tempted to let the day wash over us as many others do.

But we mustn’t let the significance of World Water Day float away from us. This year, it is more critical than ever for reminding us how we can more sustainably manage our planet’s freshwater resources.

We must use this time, before it is too late, to empower end-users to deliver water resilience, helping combat climate change and improve quality of life on an international scale. To achieve this, we must improve both water access and water efficiency, which will require innovative approaches as well as global partnerships.

Grundfos will address these issues this week at the UN Water Conference, where we have partnered with organisations from UNICEF to WaterEurope. Also in attendance will be the 14 Young Water Professionals, who are part of the joint IWA-Grundfos Youth Action for SDG6 Fellowship and are tasked with broadening green conversations.

But what do these decisions look like in practice? There are three key steps that consumers, businesses, and governments should take to start the journey towards better water resilience, and a better water system for all.


Cultivate conscious consumers

Governments should raise awareness among consumers of how they can help improve water resilience in their communities without resorting to reactive measures, such as hosepipe bans.

In the UK, for instance, the “Water’s Worth Saving” campaign has advised consumers on how to save water since it was launched on social media in 2020, when hot weather led to unprecedented demand for water. In India, meanwhile, the “Catch the Rain” campaign launched by the Ministry of Jal Shakti encouraged widespread citizen participation in water conservation.

While these initiatives are a good start, there is scope to go even further. “Water’s Worth Saving only reaches roughly 21 million people per year – less than a third of the UK population, while Catch the Rain only lasted from March to November 2021, risking much of its momentum being lost in the meantime.

Existing campaigns such as these must be supercharged, and new ones launched where none currently exist, to give consumers the guidance on water-saving behaviour that they crave.

Beneficial behavioural changes include but are not limited to selecting water-efficient settings on household appliances, purifying wastewater so it can be recycled, regularly checking pipes for leaks, and using water-efficient accessories such as shower heads. Raising awareness of these changes, and the easiest ways to adopt them, will empower more people to save water in their daily lives.


Seek smarter solutions

Smarter technological tools can equip consumers and businesses with the means to amplify improvements made by their behavioural changes.

Empowering businesses with intelligent, digital solutions can enable them to optimise water consumption and save big on operational costs. From upgrading pumps to allow for real-time, remote monitoring to boost water efficiency to implementing cutting-edge technology to enable onsite water treatment and reuse, technological upgrades can make a significant splash in smartening the way we manage our water supplies.

Global dairy company Arla Foods, for instance, recently appointed Grundfos to identify, report and achieve energy reductions across Arla Foods’ 60 global dairy sites, helping to enhance core systems by replacing pumping systems with high efficiency systems with state-of-the-art motors, pumps and controls. Grundfos has assessed two thirds of Arla Foods’ sites and have identified annual savings of seven gigawatt-hours, with total expected savings around 10 gigawatt-hours. As businesses such as Arla are beginning to recognise, when it comes to saving water with smart solutions, the sky is the limit.

Beyond businesses, communities worldwide which need support to meet their water needs, which is why Grundfos has worked with partners around the globe to deliver life-changing water solutions. In Cambodia, Grundfos teamed up with a water supply company that was responsible for supplying drinking water to the city of Doun Kaev and nearby communities. Takéo Safe Water Supply installed Grundfos’ proven technology, demand-driven distribution (DDD), including high-efficiency pumps for water distribution, to boost efficiencies and deliver clean water, 24 hours a day, to surrounding communities. The technology has not only optimised access to water but led to 15% in energy and water savings. Helping isolated communities take control of their water systems is a key part of improving water resilience for the world.


Champion the circular system

Arla’s positive results also underline the importance of optimising water use in our utilities infrastructure. Stakeholders should heed this and work to promote a circular water system in homes and cities.

There is an urgent need to boost efficient water use in urban areas in particular. Globally, an estimated 126 billion m3 of treated, pumped, water is lost each year. With growing populations placing a strain on limited water supplies, it is more important than ever to champion partnerships capable of delivering technologies that enable smarter water management.

One such example of a meaningful partnership making waves is our work with Baseform, a technology leader in online software for water utilities. Harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the strategic partnership equips water utilities with powerful digital services to conserve precious water supplies.

When there is cross-industry collaboration of this sort, ingenious solutions emerge, and the benefits of better water resilience can be enjoyed by all.


From water scarcity to water resilience

There are many steps that consumers, businesses, and governments can take to improve their management of this most precious resource. What this means, of course is that the journey from scarcity scares to resilience and reliability is a long one. But with the right innovations and partnerships, we can provide wider access and higher efficiency, paving the way for a planet that no longer must receive a rallying cry on World Water Day.