On World Water Day, we talk water recycling with Stephen Katz, market development manager at SUEZ Water Technologies & Solutions. The company, which built the Suez Canal in the 1860s, is a leader in water recycling, particularly in industrial settings but also, increasingly, to augment local drinking water supplies. More than 2.7 billion people around the world experience water scarcity each year. Climate change, along with growing human and farm animal populations, stresses available freshwater, which accounts for only 3% of the water on the planet.
Katz explains how SUEZ processes wastewater and post-industrial water to return potable supplies for human use. In Morro Bay, California, the company is replenishing groundwater supplies with water recovered from the city’s wastewater treatment facility. The program provides drinkable water and prevents land subsidence (sinking) due to depleted aquifers.
Katz also discusses the growing interest in water as a tradable commodity and the potential for higher prices as regions compete to acquire drinking water and increase their industrial output. The World Bank projects that water shortages could reduce global GDP by as much as 6% by 2050. Low-income countries — which currently use only 8% of their water supply for industrial purposes compared to high-income countries’ 59% — will struggle to grow their economies because of water shortages. Water desalination, another SUEZ line of business, is an energy-intensive answer in some parts of the world, but recycling remains the most accessible option.