GE summit tackles global water challenge

CROTONVILLE, NY, Nov. 13, 2009 -- Water resources, even in developed nations like the United States, are being threatened by climate change, drought, population growth, waste and the growing demand for energy, which requires enormous amounts of water...

Nov 13th, 2009

• Business, municipal leaders explore ways to move water reuse initiatives forward

CROTONVILLE, NY, Nov. 13, 2009 -- Water resources, even in developed nations like the United States, are being threatened by climate change, drought, population growth, waste and the growing demand for energy, which requires enormous amounts of water. The United Nations has projected that by 2025, approximately 2.8 billion people around the world will be living in water-scarce areas.

Exploring ways to better protect this precious natural resource is the goal of a GE Leadership Summit on Water Reuse Solutions, "From Used to Useful." Leaders from industry, government and academia have gathered at GE's learning center in Crotonville, N.Y., to discuss the role of water reuse, or recycling, in securing a sustainable water supply for the future.

The summit was launched Thursday evening with addresses by GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt and Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. The governor has consistently put the environment first, from his promotion of alternative energy sources to current regulations regarding water treatment processes used in the drilling of natural gas reserves.

Today's discussions are focusing on industrial and municipal water reclamation and reuse, exploring three areas critical to moving water reuse initiatives forward: technology, economics and policy.

Speakers include Khoo Teng Chye, chief executive and a board member of Singapore's Public Utilities, who is discussing how -- in the wake of a water shortage, polluted rivers and widespread floods -- Singapore is successfully restoring 30 percent of its wastewater and directing it into the drinking water supply.

"Singapore is a prime example of how the right mix of economics, strong policy and advanced technology can work together," said Mr. Khoo Teng Chye. "Taking on the challenge of water reuse requires efforts in all three areas, and it is our collective effort to see that approach more broadly adopted by industries and municipalities."

Other participants at the summit presenting water reuse success stories include Kathryn Garcia of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection; Gary Darling of Delta Diablo Sanitation District; and Rich Atwater, CEO from Inland Empire Utilities Agency. In addition, David Sunding, professor of economics of the University of California-Berkeley, will set the stage for an exchange of ideas on the economics of water reuse solutions while Lorne Taylor, chairman of the Alberta Water Research Institute, will cover technology advancements. The summit will end with a global policy panel and insight from Commissioner Mike Connor of the U.S. Department of Interior and Ross Young, executive director of Australia Water Services, to name a few.

"As the world faces growing water scarcity challenges, the need for conservation and recycling of water is more important than ever before," said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO of Water and Process Technologies for GE Power & Water. "The focus of this summit is to bring together the right mix of influencers that are taking an initial stance and demonstrating their vested interests in protecting the future of the environment and ensuring a sustainable water supply."

The participants will continue their dialogue and initiatives beyond the GE summit through an exclusive online community to support the Used to Useful movement. Members will be able to apply their expertise to help develop and raise awareness around sustainable water alternatives that can help solve the challenges of water impurity and scarcity.

About GE
GE is a diversified global infrastructure, finance and media company that's built to meet essential world needs. From energy, water, transportation and health to access to money and information, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide.

GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With 60,000 global employees and 2008 revenues of $38.6 billion, GE Energy is one of the world's leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies. The businesses that comprise GE Energy - GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas - work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.

For more information, visit the company's Web site at GE is imagination at work.


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