Being of great value for AIWW as one of our Sponsors, we asked Annette Ottolini from Evides to give her view on the AIWW Conference 2019 themes and topics. This year’s main theme is the ‘Implementation of integrated solutions by cities, industries, utilities and financiers: from cases to bankable projects.’
Q: What do you see as some of the key issues where there are both important needs and strong opportunities to innovate? Please comment on why these are significant, and how you see progress can be made.
“To maintain our drinking water quality at the highest possible level and to design our drinking water system future-proof, it is necessary to look ahead and innovate. Therefore Evides has an extensive research program, with various research tracks on water quality and -quantity. Moreover, there is a common concern for sufficient high quality fresh water. For this purpose governments have a duty of care. Key issues are source protection, climate adaptation and working together on sustainable solutions, customer and environment oriented.”
“We also innovate to capitalize opportunities. We thereby explicitly focus on themes such as climate adaptation, energy transition and sustainability. Concrete examples are: Our Evides Energy Neutral program, with one of the main components: solar energy from solar parks on land and water. At the end of 2018 we opened our first solar park at our production location in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. As of November 2019 we are going to install solar panels on our reservoir and also on the adjacent site of our drinking water production location in Rotterdam.”
“In addition, we are investigating the options for optimally utilizing energy from water and we are actively committed to keeping resources available in the future. For example the Nereus pilot on the Harnaschpolder WWTP. Evides Industriewater is researching the possibilities for recovering water, nutrients and energy from wastewater. Re-use of products, raw materials, waste (water) flows and the use of 100% green energy are the areas of concern.”
Q: How important are partnerships in order to address water issues, including partnerships with the public, and partnerships across sectors? How can partnerships help, and what is the key to developing and progressing these partnerships?
“Water issues are increasingly becoming complex and are known to have many players. This requires active cooperation in the water chain and with other partners such as government, other companies and customers. From the multitude of themes that play a role, I can mention two: the busy subsurface and water quality management.”
“The subsurface is becoming increasingly full in terms of pipes. To secure the drinking water pipes, to work efficiently and to reduce the impact for local residents, we are active in various regional partnerships. We therefore work together with other network operators and municipalities. The preconditions that are important in this regard are: clear agreements, the exchange of data and looking beyond your own boundaries.”
“To tackle medicine residues and other emerging substances in surface water, we collaborate chain-wide in the catchment area of the river Maas with other water companies, water boards and Rijkswaterstaat. The aim is to remove medicine residues from sewage water so that cleaner water returns to the river. This has a positive impact on the environment and drinking water production. Integrated thinking in terms of opportunities is also the starting point here. We also remind other parties – such as pharmaceuticals, health care and consumers – of their role.”
Q: What do you see as some of the important changes in skills and expertise needed in the water sector? How does this affect your organisation, and how are you responding?
“The rapidly technological progress, online developments, the power of data (management), the increasingly complex society and the higher expectations of customers and stakeholders require a flexible organization. Colleagues must continue to develop in terms of skills and knowledge, whether it concerns IT or the client organization.”
“At Evides, personal development is one of the basic factors. With training, education and innovation lectures, we ensure that we are an agile organization that goes along and is prepared for developments. For example, our “Watchtowers” – in which colleagues from different disciplines participate – signal megatrends, which they weigh on their importance for Evides and translate these into advice.”
Q: What for your organisation is the value in participating in, and being associated with, AIWW?
“With all developments in the world and in the water sector, data and knowledge are becoming increasingly important. Exchanging knowledge is therefore of great importance and AIWW offers a nice and suitable platform for this. We like to show what we are doing, what developments and research we are working on and above all we like to be inspired by the (international) experiences of others.”