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Keynote speaker identifies water reuse as growth opportunity
Water industry leaders met July 20 at Water Summit III: The True Costs and Opportunities of Water, hosted by the Milwaukee 7 Water Council. Participants from local and international businesses, technology, education and environmental organizations shared different perspectives on the increasing value of freshwater, its effect on investment in water-related companies and how Milwaukee’s strength in water technology and its proximity to Lake Michigan uniquely positions it for investment and economic development.
Assaf Barnea, CEO of Kinrot Ventures, Israel’s leading seed investor in water and clean-tech-related technologies, was the Water Summit’s keynote speaker. He reflected on how the staid water industry was dramatically transformed by the compelling events of 2004. “The race started when General Electric purchased Ionics and Zenon Environmental of Canada, and Siemens purchased U.S. Filter,” Barnea said. “These giants declared water is here to stay and companies outside of the industry took notice. In 2008 water was a $450 billion industry. It is the 5th largest industry on the planet and it is growing between 7% and 8% a year.”
Barnea explained that world demand for freshwater is increasing at an even faster rate than global population growth and it is creating severe water shortages in many regions. Water scarcity will drive change to many accepted practices prevalent throughout the water industry. Reusing wastewater will become much more common and the new technologies that make it possible will be adopted and grow.
“Reuse of water averages only 5% worldwide,” Barnea said. “In spite of its water shortages, the City of Los Angeles reuses only 1% water of its water. However, in Israel we’ve been using 75% of our water for our agriculture.”
To access videos and slides of the Water Summit presentations visit www.milwaukee7-watercouncil.com.