The theme of this year's World Water Day on March 22, 2017 is wastewater. Among other things, it calls attention to the objectives of the United Nations' Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. For example, the agenda calls for the share of untreated wastewater compared to 2015 to be cut in half by 2030. It also calls for substantial increases in recycling and safe reutilization. “Besides political willingness and the necessary legal, structural and financial conditions, we need customized environmental technologies and environmental services to achieve these objectives,” underscores Stefan Rummel, Managing Director of Messe München. As organizer of the world's largest environmental technology exhibition, i.e. IFAT in Munich, Messe München has had a close connection to the industry for more than 50 years. Furthermore, spin-off events in Shanghai (China), Mumbai (India), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Istanbul (Turkey) help bring the product and service portfolios of international manufacturers and service providers together with demand that is specific to the regions in question.
One of IFAT's conceptual sponsors is the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA). Its President, Dipl.-Ing. Otto Schaaf, describes some of the globally trending topics related to wastewater treatment where advanced environmental technology is needed: To guarantee the supply of water and food to people, especially in the arid regions of the world, we must find a way to use properly treated wastewater for agricultural irrigation and industrial processes instead of valuable freshwater. In addition, as human beings, we cannot afford to continue disposing of irreplaceable nutrients such as phosphorous with our wastewater.” The energy contained in wastewater is also an interesting resource that can be exploited with the right technologies. The DWA has confirmed that fact, among other things in a performance comparison of municipal sewage plants in Germany last year. According to the study, one out of five sewage treatment plants in Germany with a population equivalent (PE) of more than 100,000 has an energy self-sufficiency rating of more than 80 percent.
Sustainable development of water-resource management also means keeping an eye on the effects of the high standard of living in industrialized nations. “The increased use of wet wipes and the problems that they create in treatment plants and pumping stations are still comparatively easy to solve from a technological standpoint. However, anthropogenic trace elements in the water cycle pose entirely different challenges,” emphasizes Schaaf, and continues: “The first thing one has to do is find solutions for avoiding or reducing substances where they enter the system. If that is impossible or disproportional, waterway protection measures must be implemented 'end of pipe'.” According to the DWA President, technical measures to remove relevant trace elements from wastewater would currently require large investments and operating costs. That is why additional research and development work is necessary to come up with solutions that are also economically feasible.
“In any case, IFAT and its international spin-off events are willing to serve as platforms for modern wastewater treatment techniques that are ecologically and economically sustainable now and in the future,” stresses Rummel. The next opportunities to do so are IE expo China (May 4–6, 2017), IFAT Africa (September 12–14, 2017), IFAT India (September 26–28, 2017) and IFAT in Munich (May 14–18, 2018).