World Water Day: Clean water by 2030
On the occasion of World Water Day, Jack Moss the Executive Director of Aquafed, the International Federation of Private Operators, advises how to deliver clean water around the world.
IFA: What are AquaFed’s mission, goals and membership?
J. Moss: AquaFed is the International Federation of Private Water Operators. It connects private water service operators with all stakeholders at the international level to share their expertise and find solutions to the diverse water and wastewater challenges. It brings together over 400 private water and wastewater service providers from 40 countries. Membership is open to all private companies active in public water and/ or wastewater service management, or finance through contracts, joint ventures or licenses with public authorities.
AquaFed’s Members operate a wide range of water systems in many countries.
These services range from simple rural systems using low-level technology to very large and sophisticated systems that require high-tech treatment processes, SMART networks and advanced data management. Because of the public interest nature of these services, private operators operate under the control of public authorities. This control takes the form of a contract or license. In addition, they are usually controlled by a range of regulators that supervise matters such as water quality, public health and safety, investments, revenue and environmental protection.
As information provider, AquaFed contributes to international discussions on the most important and urgent water related topics, ranging from the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, through urban water and wastewater management, climate change and sustainable development to finance, regulation, governance and transparency.
Our Members help to ensure water and wastewater services perform well. These services are essential for everybody and necessary to protect the environment and public health, promote individuals’ opportunities and well-being, and support economic development and employment.
IFA: What are its key priorities?
J. Moss: AquaFed’s key priorities are to help the private service operators to deliver high quality sustainable services around the world. These services are provision of safe drinking water, and also collection, treatment and restoration of used water to enable it to be discharged safely back to the environment or reused in beneficial ways.
Wastewater management is often neglected, but is essential for the protection of the environment and humanity against waterborne pollution. In a water stressed world, water pollution makes scarce, usable water, even scarcer.
Further, AquaFed Members assist the public authorities in preparing for, and managing water related risks and disasters, particularly floods and droughts.
IFA: What, in your view, is indispensable if we want to reach Goal 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “Clean Water and Sanitation. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030?
J. Moss: Water is a key to all dimensions of sustainable development: the environment, society and the economy. It underpins the ability to achieve all the SDGs.
Because water is the lifeblood of all SDGs, water management is of highest importance for reaching all 17 Goals by 2030. To reach Goal 6, stronger political recognition of the importance of water is essential. Managing water and wastewater requires long term stable political commitment.
A very significant increase in the level of financial investment is needed, to create and restore the vital water and wastewater infrastructure and to ensure that it is operated efficiently. High levels of engineering, finance, customer relations and other professional skills are needed to make the systems work sustainably.
Water pollution kills and maims individuals: people, animals, fish, birds, plants - all living beings. It harms the environment, societies and economies. Coping with water pollution requires much more political will, knowledge and technical facilities. The main causes of water pollution are man-made and are largely avoidable. They are agriculture, urbanization, and industry.
Today there is very little information or data on the damage these pollutions cause, but we know that as much as 90% of wastewater is estimated to be discharged to natural environment without any treatment. Efforts are required to both prevent pollution and to remove it from water that has been used so it is safe for the environment or for reusing it.
IFA: How do you see the role of the fertilizer industry in reaching this goal?
J. Moss: SDG 6 addresses the full water cycle including issues related to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene and also the quality and sustainability of water resources worldwide.
The fertilizer industry’s role in supporting Goal 6 will be to work with other actors to reduce the impact of diffuse agricultural pollution. The balanced use of fertilizers prevents runoff from the land, and therefore reduces the pollution of surface and groundwater resources.
Target 6.3 is designed to address these kinds of water pollution and calls for improving ambient water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials. Further, the industry needs to work together with other stakeholders to improve the water use efficiency and productivity in agriculture, which is related to target 6.4, and the need to feed a growing population (Goal 2).
Our industries, the fertilizer and the water sector, must work closely together to develop beneficial ways of reutilizing the nutrients and other useful resources that can be extracted from urban wastewater. The role of your industry working with ours in reaching the SDGs is therefore important.
About J. Moss:
Jack Moss has 30 years of experience throughout the world in the private sector side of the water services industry. He joined AquaFed in 2005 as senior adviser, contributing to its creation and international recognition. He has been the Executive Director since 2015