WWE Keynote -- Paying for sustainable water services

Once again the Water & Wastewater Europe Conference will focus on the European water market, including investment opportunities and technology trends, but also highlight key strategic issues, such as paying for high-quality water services and coping with climate change effects on infrastructure.

The Water & Wastewater Europe 2005 Conference Keynote Speaker John Banyard, the former Director of Asset Management for Severn Trent Water Ltd for 14 years until December 2004, reviews the financial pressures faced by industrialised countries in providing water services to comply with increasingly stringent water quality requirements.

Once again the Water & Wastewater Europe Conference will focus on the European water market, including investment opportunities and technology trends, but also highlight key strategic issues, such as paying for high-quality water services and coping with climate change effects on infrastructure.

The Keynote Speaker John K. Banyard, who served as the director of asset management for the UK company Severn Trent Water Ltd for 14 years before he retired at the end of December 2004, will share his insights on the financial pressures faced by industrialised countries in providing water services, giving examples of the cost implications of demands for ever-increasing standards of purity in drinking water and environmental improvement through better treatment of wastewater. Exploring the state of existing infrastructure, he will then project forward the financial implications of its continued use into the 21st century. His address will also examine funding models that are being used in different countries and the financial constraints that accompany their use.

Mr. Banyard has lectured extensively in Europe and the USA on the topic of asset management before he was invited to deliver the 5th International Brunel lecture for the UK Institution of Civil Engineers, a prestigious series that involves presentations in more than 15 countries around the world.

This year marks the first time the organisers, PennWell Corporation, has held the event in Milan, a major industrial centre of Italy. Since 2002, the event travelled first to Nice, France, then to Barcelona, Spain, where the conference agenda reflected dynamic market trends - the development of alternative water resources, such as desalination and water reuse for non-potable applications.

Italy, of course, shares many of the same challenges faced by the rest of Europe - complying with EU regulations on water quality and wastewater discharges, investing in infrastructure, and developing alternative water resources, including desalination and water reuse. But Italian water policy is uniquely challenging, and Roberto Zocchi, the chief executive officer of LaboratoRI Spa of the Gruppo ACEA, Italy's largest water company, will explain the opportunities and threats of the market in his Keynote address.

In the first strategic session "European Water Market: Update on PPP Developments, Investment Opportunities & Challenges," Mr. Zocchi will also elaborate on the many problems in implementing the Galli Law and starting new concessions in Italy. The 1994 Galli Law allows former municipal water utilities to expand services into other regions of Italy, a provision that has helped develop private sector participation on a national level. The 2002 Finance Bill, however, has caused major confusion. The law stipulates that public water and wastewater companies can only pursue business outside of their ATOs between 2003 and 2007, but this may change.

In this session, Dr. David Lloyd Owen, co-author of Mason Water Yearbook, will also present an overview of key market developments in Europe that any professional interested in developing business opportunities in the water and wastewater industry, would find invaluable.

In Europe, significant investment must be made in flood protection to reduce the tragic consequences of extreme floods. Climate change effects are wreaking havoc for millions of people who live in flood-prone areas, and in cities with inadequate drainage infrastructure. Rainfall is increasingly more frequent and intense. The UK Meteorological Office predicted that by 2080 rainfall depths could increase 1.4 times current levels and double in flood frequency and volume.

The special session on "Stormwater Management: Coping with Climate Change Effects," specifically focuses on the ways in which municipalities can manage extreme rainfalls. Academics and consulting engineers from Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom will present papers that provide a better understanding of the ways in which municipalities and national governments can address climate change. Professor Richard Ashley from Sheffield University in the UK, who is currently involved in the AUDACIOUS research project, is currently looking into ways to adapt existing drainage systems in order to cope with these changing rainfall patterns, such as increased sewer flooding risk under the current climate change scenarios with a focus on sustainability.

The next issue of Water & Wastewater International, published in August, will report in more detail the highlights of WWE 2005, held in Milan, Italy, from 28-30 June.

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