Dr. Glen Daigger reflects on his recent trip to Singapore, where he attended the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). He left SIWW feeling energized by the work being done around three significant challenges that the water sector is working hard to address.

By: Dr. Glen Daigger, CH2M HILL Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and IWA President

I recently returned from Singapore, where I attended the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). After a one year hiatus, this event returned on what will be, going forward, a biennial basis.

There are essentially four signature global water events, of which SIWW is one. The others include the annual Stockholm Water Week, where the Stockholm Water Prizes are awarded; the World Water Forum, which is held every three years; and, of course, the Biennial Internal Water Association (IWA) World Water Congress. Each of these events has a different fundamental purpose:

  • World Water Forum is a political event, bringing the political leaders of the world together to focus on the world’s water issues
  • Stockholm is a policy event, focusing on advancing the policies needed to more effectively manage water
  • IWA World Water Congress is the premier professional event
  • SIWW is a business event

SIWW lived up to its usual excellence, attracting more than 20,000 participants from 118 countries and regions, spanning a diverse range of sectors. A highlight of the program included recognizing this year’s Lee Kwan Yew Water Prize winner, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) in California, USA. OCWD was recognized for its pioneering work in groundwater management and water reclamation using advanced water reuse technologies and practices, as well as its achievements in community outreach and public policy to educate the public on water reuse.

CH2M HILL was proud to be a founding sponsor of SIWW. Many of our employees presented in the technical conference (the Water Convention, organized by the IWA in collaboration with PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency) throughout the week. Among other activities, I was privileged to present one of the plenary keynote lectures for the Water Convention, where I introduced the new industrial water and wastewater theme. I also served on a panel for the Young Water Leaders Summit and chaired panels at the TechXchange, which networks entrepreneurs and potential funders and supporters. It is inspiring to see so many water leaders and key decision-makers come together and lead the way in co-developing innovative water solutions to address some of the world’s biggest water challenges.

As I reflect on my time in Singapore, I would like to share three themes that I believe the water profession should continue to focus on, including:

  1. Fundamentally change our approach to water management to avoid water stress
  2. Dramatically accelerate extension of the human right to water and sanitation to all humans
  3. Dramatically improve the resource efficiency of water management

While I narrowed the focus to only three things, they are pretty big ones. However, we need to move rapidly in the water sector to solve these three challenges, as the need and impact it could have is significant. I am excited to report that water leaders who attended this year’s SIWW are committed to achieving these three goals.

If you were not able to join us in Singapore, I would encourage you to check out the remarks, videos and photos from the conference.