Q: In what ways are issues beyond the traditional water supply and wastewater matters, such as city commitments to energy neutrality, driving change at Berliner Wasserbetriebe?
“Climate change and its consequences, such as long periods of drought and stormwater events, have a high impact on the activities of Berliner Wasserbetriebe. To ensure the long-term security of water supply and wastewater disposal, future investments have to include measures to increase resilience against extreme weather events.”
“In addition to that, Berliner Wasserbetriebe has signed a Climate Protection Agreement with the city of Berlin to further reduce its carbon footprint until 2025. To achieve the goals in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, Berliner Wasserbetriebe will further increase its renewable energy capacity and implement energy efficiency measures. Furthermore, Berliner Wasserbetriebe is committed to sustainability in all of its actions.”
Q: Linked to this, what opportunities do you see for water utilities to provide leadership in the areas in which they operate?
“Water utilities can and should support and lead actions in terms of climate change adaption and sustainable city development. Based on their experiences and knowledge, water utilities have the opportunity to help cities to become more sustainable and increase the quality of life.
An example of this is the new ways of dealing with rainwater by using the ‘sponge city’ approach. In addition to the construction of combined sewer storage within the city and at wastewater treatment plants, Berliner Wasserbetriebe and Berlin’s senate therefore established the so-called Stormwater Agency Berlin to promote decentralized stormwater management. Decentralized measures help to keep moisture within the city and hence have a positive impact on the local climate.”
Q: What do you see is the need and opportunity to connect water utilities, cities and industry to achieve progress with innovative approaches relating to water?
“Water utilities around the world face many complex challenges that can be solved in many different ways. Knowledge and best practice exchange and transfer between water utilities, cities and industry is the key to identify solutions for these complex challenges.
For that reason Berliner Wasserbetriebe is involved in different inter-corporate cooperations and partnerships. For example, as part of the joint innovation network InfraLab of the six infrastructure utilities in Berlin, Berliner Wasserbetriebe collectively experiments, tests and realizes ideas for a smarter and more sustainable Berlin. In addition to that, Berliner Wasserbetriebe has signed MoUs with Amsterdam’s Waternet and Paris’s SIAAP to enhance knowledge transfer.”