Plenary address focuses on the importance of sustainable water management in Saudi Arabia and China
The International Desalination Assn. (IDA) World Congress 2013 officially convened at the Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center in Tianjin, China, with an opening ceremony that featured dignitaries from around the world as well as the People’s Republic of China, and the traditional ribbon cutting and VIP exhibition walk-through.
Guests of honor included Executive Vice Mayor Cui Tian Du of the Tianjin Municipal Peoples’ Government, Vice Mayor He Shu Shan of the Tianjin Municipal People’s Government, Minister for Water and Electricity Abdullah A. Al Hussayen of Saudi Arabia; and Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan of Singapore. Dr. Corrado Sommariva, president of IDA, joined the guests of honor in delivering brief welcome remarks.
Invited speakers in the plenary session were Li Baochun, executive director of the Tianjin Science & Technology Commission; Dr. Yang Shangbao of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission; and Mohammed A. Abunayyan, chairman of ACWA Power Intl. of Saudi Arabia.
In his plenary address entitled “The Promise of Water Reuse and Desalination: the Challenges and Opportunity,” Abunayyan began by commenting on the importance of sustainable water management to both Saudi Arabia and China.
Commenting on the bountiful economic expansion and population growth in both Riyadh and Tianjin, he noted that, “Everything we have achieved in Riyadh and in Tianjin is dependent on our ability to continually use water more efficiently, that is, increase GDP [gross domestic product] per cubic meter of water plus creating new freshwater resources beyond our natural endowment. Sustainable water management for the two cities is hence built on the foundations of maximizing water reuse and the production of freshwater, which both necessitate desalination expertise."
Abunayyan noted the looming global problem of providing freshwater to a third of the world’s population who, by 2050, “will simply not have adequate supplies to support their survival let alone economic prosperity."
Noting that desalination and water reuse offer an avenue to address this issue, he identified three main challenges to ensuring that desalination and water reuse become mainstream solutions: affordability, energy intensity and environmental impacts.
According to Abunayyan, there are three aspects of affordability that must be addressed:
- The need to “bring down the production cost of desalination by a factor of 10 within the next generation;"
- The ability of the provider to charge the real price of water; and
- Flexibility for locations that need desalination seasonally and sporadically.
Speaking about the environment, he noted that, “If desalination is to become a mainstream source of water, then we need to transform our environmental performance. Renewable water needs to be seen as an asset and pillar in the green economy just like renewable energy.”
With a four-day technical program, exhibition, plant tours, IDA Desalination Academy courses and networking opportunities, the World Congress is recognized as the premiere event for the global desalination community. It will conclude on Oct. 25.