Changing Perceptions

A video showing Bill Gates drinking cleaned up wastewater from a new off-grid technology recently went viral. The global water industry is full of innovation; it's just a case of finding out where ...


A video showing Bill Gates drinking cleaned up wastewater from a new off-grid technology recently went viral. The global water industry is full of innovation; it's just a case of finding out where….

As a journalist I'm used to putting a thick red line through puffy PR expressions like "delighted with" or "happy to announce" or "pleased to". Eugh. To me this is just unnecessary hyperbole. But, here I am, call me a hypocrite if you will, about to use a similar statement. Because I am indeed delighted to announce that we are welcoming guest author Professor Asit Biswas in this edition of WWi magazine.

Many of you will be aware of the professor's work. Often acknowledged universally as one of the world's leading authorities on water management, he has advised 19 governments on the issue, as well as multiple companies in the Fortune 500.

As you can read from Professor K. Biswas' article on page 16, water is now firmly in minds of the multinational CEOs. This was also apparent in the Global Risk Report 2015 of the World Economic Forum, put together with views from 13,000 executives. It was identified that a non-financial issue – water – is the most important global risk in terms of overall impacts. Although not surprising to the global water community, it may come as shock reading to others.

On the subject of leaders, a video of Microsoft founder Bill Gates drinking reused wastewater recently took the internet by storm. At last – wastewater reuse goes viral – we knew this day would happen! On page 24 we take a look at the technology behind the process and the man behind it – CEO Peter Janicki. The engineering community will undoubtedly be sceptical of the system until results from the trial in Senegal, Africa are released. Importantly, this at least demonstrates that with the right funding and engineering, much needed off-grid solutions can be developed for the region.

On the subject of funding, make sure you read this issue's Leader Focus starting on page 12. It's an interesting story of how a US firm has taken a university project, attracted funding to take the technology through to commercialisation, and is now developing an international business. More interestingly is the man behind it – CEO Jim Matheson. A former US Navy fighter pilot, turned TOPGUN instructor, turned venture capitalist, turned water entrepreneur – he's got an interesting story to tell and one that makes for a great interview.

Often the water industry is tarnished with being slow to innovate, conservative and unglamorous. Using family terms, to many the renewable industry is the younger, sporty, up and coming, popular and successful child. Water is the overweight, underperforming older brother that simply gets the job done.

Yet I disagree! Even from the few examples I've just mentioned, there is clearly innovation, talent and finance out there. I really believe that in terms of energy we are on the brink of change. Desalination is now being partnered with renewable on a commercial scale (read our update on page 28) and wastewater – from an energy and nutrient standpoint – is starting to really be unlocked to its full potential.

Enjoy the issue and make sure you get in touch with any stories of innovation: tomf@pennwell.com

Tom Freyberg, Chief Editor

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