By Dr. Glen Daigger, International Water Association President and CH2M HILL Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Thoughts from Korea
The International Water Association (IWA) just recently completed a very successful World Water Congress in Busan, Korea. In spite of a typhoon which was bearing down on Korea (there was only a “glancing blow” to Busan, but more damage in the Western part of Korea), attendance was strong and the program was excellent. The breadth of the world of water was on display in Busan, ranging from detailed presentations on the fundamental sciences and engineering (including social sciences) to their broad application to address the issues before us.
The issues are clear. We need to dramatically extend water, sanitation, and wastewater services in the developing world to meet human needs while protecting water resources by not polluting them. In the developed world we must continue to improve service to not only meet human needs but to also restore the environment. In all cases we need to develop and implement approaches which are dramatically more resource efficient as the human footprint on the earth exceeds its carrying capacity, and this will only get worse as population and the economy grows unless we change. The good news is that we actually know how to do all of this today, and we will get better and better at doing it as we use and continue to develop what we have. What is needed is an increased recognition of the need to change, and the commitment and follow through to do so. Busan provided further knowledge about what we need to do and how to do it, but also a real sense of excitement to do so. In many ways, this is what we need most, the commitment to change as we really focus on reinventing our profession.
Greetings from China
I traveled to China following the IWA World Water Congress in Busan, Korea. The first stop was in Harbin where the 2012 Nutrient Removal and Recovery Specialty Conference was held, followed by a conference in Tianjin and a brief stop in Beijing before returning to the U.S. (just in time for WEFTEC). Harbin continued the tradition of the exchange of state-of-the-art knowledge on the management of nutrients, along with excellent hospitality and the opportunity for international participants to learn about each other’s cultures.
Traditional nutrient removal technologies and practices were certainly discussed, but significant time was also devoted to the evolving Anammox technology for nitrogen removal and to phosphorus recovery and reuse. It appears clear that these two represent the future of nutrient removal and recovery. Anammox allows nitrogen to be removed (converted into nitrogen gas and returned to the atmosphere) using autotrophic biological processes, freeing up carbon in the influent wastewater to be captured and used for energy production through, for example, anaerobic treatment. Thus, the possibilities for energy neutral wastewater management and for the entire urban water management cycle are enhanced. Phosphorus recovery allows the water profession to contribute to addressing the long-term issue of phosphorus availability.
Tianjin and Beijing are both severely water short due to their high population in proportion to available water resources. “Creating” water resources through efficiency, rainwater harvesting, and the use of used water (see the change in terminology), along with desalination, is the focus in both locations. China is certainly moving ahead in these areas in both their practices and the development of supporting technologies and products. We in the developed countries can certainly take some lessons from China in their ability to recognize and address critical issues such as these in an aggressive fashion.
Dr. Daigger has more than 30 years of experience in wastewater treatment plant evaluation, troubleshooting and process design. Between 1994 and 1996 he served as professor and head of the Environmental Systems Engineering Department at Clemson University. He is the author of numerous reports, articles, and conference presentations on wastewater treatment and sustainable wastewater infrastructure. His texts are used in engineering classrooms across the country. Active in the wastewater industry, Daigger is President of the International Water Association and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, Association of Environmental Engineering, and Water Environment Federation, as well as numerous other professional societies. He has twice received the Harrison Prescott Eddy Award from the Water Environment Federation.Tags: Anammox, CH2M HILL Access Water, China water resources, Daigger 2011 Travelogue, Daigger Travelogue, Dr. Glen Daigger, glen daigger, IWA World Water Congress, nutrient recovery, water blog, Water Resources