Global Talk: A Fount of Information in Vienna

There is no way to include the breadth of knowledge presented at the International Water Association's biennial World Water Congress, held Sept. 7-12 in Vienna, in a column as short as this. Suffice it to say that even only a fraction made it online at our website, www.wwinternational.com...

• IWA World Water Congress Delivers Diverse Program on Sustainable Water Needs
By Carlos David Mogollon

There is no way to include the breadth of knowledge presented at the International Water Association's biennial World Water Congress, held Sept. 7-12 in Vienna, in a column as short as this. Suffice it to say that even only a fraction made it online at our website, www.wwinternational.com. Among the highlights:

IWA issued a reference paper based on work of its Sanitation 21 Task Force, drawing attention to the fact 2.6 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation and pressing for greater action to achieve UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This was further underscored by several other presentations, including a give-and-take session in the "Developmental Corner" by Jamie Bartram, coordinator of WHO's Water, Sanitation, Hygiene & Health (WSH) program, who broke down the issue statistically for participants.

Steve Loranger, CEO of ITT Corp., which has committed US$3 million over three years in its related ITT Watermark philanthropic outreach effort, called for greater investment and innovation to address the global sanitation crisis. He was joined on a panel -- which can be viewed via video playback here -- by moderator and Circle of Blue director J. Carl Ganter, Water For People international programs director Ned Breslin and IWA development director Dr. Darren Saywell.

• Engineering consultancy MWH and IWA joined forces to launch a wide-ranging, three year program aimed at tackling the impact of climate change in the water sector, which also was the subject of a number of sessions in varying ways.

• Israel's Arison Group announced formation of a global water company Miya, incorporated in Luxembourg with a $100 million investment to assemble a global dynamo focused on municipal and utility water loss management issues. Among its subsidiaries are Swiss-based Gutermann, Israeli pressure control valve maker Dorot, Croatian-based IMGD, Romania's Romiya, North America's Veritec Consulting, and WRP, active largely in South Africa and Australia.

• Fresh on the heels of success at its inaugural Singapore International Water Week, the island's national water agency PUB released its Blue Paper, stressing the need to find more sustainable solutions to the world's water and used water problems. The second event will be held 22 to 26 June 2009, announced Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

Dr. Jim Gill, of Australia's WaterCorp., and Prof. Mark van Loosdrecht, of the Netherland's Delft University of Technology were honored with IWA's Grand Award, the first time it's been awarded to two people. For details and a full list of the awards announced in Vienna, including the IWA Project Innovation Awards, click here. A number of U.S. projects were included in the mix. Both also were conference presenters.

Among other notable presenters were: Dr. Joan Rose, co-director of the Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment and Center for Water Sciences at Michigan State University, who received the inaugural IWA Hei-jin Woo Award for achievements of women in the water profession, and Abel Mejia, manager of the World Bank's Water Anchor unit, and Philip Weller, executive secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, which was featured in WWi's August/September 2008 issue.

IWA also signed MOU agreements with the Water Environment Federation and Stockholm International Water Institute to formalize relationships, one to put WEF on par with an agreement with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and two to allow SIWI to take better advantage of IWA conference programming during its World Water Week in Stockholm event annually in August.

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the incredible hospitality of the city of Vienna in hosting the IWA World Water Congress. Among highlights were tours of the Vienna Wastewater Treatment Works and mountain springs from which its drinking water is drawn, a Vienna Symphony Orchestra concert featuring the music of Mozart and Strauss at the famed Golden Hall, a palatial fete during the Project Innovation Awards, and a final Gala Night celebration at the Vienna City Hall, complete with orchestra, jazz ensemble and disco.

We expect to provide additional review of the World Water Congress in the pages of Water & Wastewater International, so keep a lookout for a summary of the event, which next will be hosted by Montreal in 2010.WWi

Author's Note: Carlos David Mogollon is managing editor of Water & Wastewater International magazine. To send him a message, click here: davidm@pennwell.com

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