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Valuing Water

World Water Day is celebrated globally on the 22nd of March, 2023 as a reminder of the commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030. The indicators for SDG 6 are divided into 11 subtopics and will be discussed in detail during the UN 2023 Water Conference on 22-24 March 2023. The theme for 2023 is Valuing Water, and our long-term approach to a sustainable water source, ensuring that we have water for life.

Our watershed moment, uniting the world for water

As we face together some of the most challenging problems in modern history, we take a moment to focus the lens on water, our life support system.

There is an urgent need to collaborate, leveraging technology to build and design new systems to solve our infrastructure challenges and to support community resilience, ensuring our food and water security into the future. Converging crises over the past few years have created the perfect storm, outlined by McKinsey’s, the rising risk of a global food crisis, - article pointing to the rising risk of a global food crises and the looming threat of global hunger.

Pressure on the ecological system is experienced dramatically and almost weekly somewhere on the planet as unusual weather patterns are affecting global food and water security, and severe storms are displacing millions from their homes. The world’s life support system is being bombarded by storm after storm of one kind or another. Australia’s eastern states are among the world’s most at risk from climate change and extreme weather linked to the pre-existing cycle of water referred to as El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

The question at the top of mind for governments around the world is whether infrastructure will bend or break under climate stress. The changing climate resulting in more extreme weather events means historical climate bands are becoming outdated, leaving infrastructure operating outside of its tolerance levels. The global economy depends on infrastructure to be resilient because it connects people, enhances the quality of life and promotes health and safety. Increased flooding is weakening our infrastructure which is not built to withstand the now heavy precipitation, according to a recent study of the flood capacity of dams.

The policy agenda on experimental technologies for weather modification

Ever since man could fly, there has been a long history of scientists trying to modify the climate locally and globally. Weather modification technology was patented and used by governments and military as early as 1891. A recent documentary ‘The Dimming’ released in 2021, presents the history of weather modification started by the US military using technology that may be influencing the climate system while Professor of Economics, Ross McKitrick, of the University of Guelph, presents different perspectives of the climate debate; environmental, economic, and scientific. Policy on using experimental technologies is vague and as early as 1965, the National Science Foundation called for urgent social science research into the impacts of weather modification stating,

“If the developing techniques of weather and climate modification are to be used intelligently, the human consequences of deliberate or inadvertent intervention need to be anticipated before they are upon us.”

Cloud seeding technology fell out of political favor in the 1980s for being an "unacceptable and environmental hazard" although the negative impacts of silver iodide used in cloud seeding is not supported by published literature. Despite the potential risks which are not fully understood, cloud seeding is now back on the policy agenda as a climate adaptation strategy with no clear boundaries around the applications. Cloud seeding is not a silver bullet that can solve all water supply issues. It is perhaps one tool or solution out of many (i.e., water conservation) that can be considered to determine whether its application is feasible. Cloud seeding continues in the Snowy Mountains in NSW, Australia today to increase surface water runoff for use in the production of hydropower and enhance snow falls above natural levels.

The future of cloud seeding technology

On the 29th of September 2022, Future Market Insights blog featured the cloud seeding system market forecast showing future trends, leading players and regional forecast 2022 to 2032. The heightened interest in this technology is due to the increasing demand across the world for water sources and agriculture. The article explains the three cloud seeding methods: Static cloud seeding, Dynamic cloud seeding and Hygroscopic cloud seeding.

Many private corporations are using cloud seeding technology in the US such as The West Texas Weather Modification Association whose primary goals are to enhance rainfall in convective thunderstorms to help increase wetland crop revenues, decrease groundwater consumption, save on irrigation costs, and help increase precipitation by 16%. Another elite group of researchers Seeding Operations and Atmospheric Research (SOAR) aka Just Clouds, dedicate themselves to providing weather modification services and research technologies with a mission to conduct cloud seeding operations efficiently, professionally, and safely. Their seeding operations involve international collaboration with the National Centre of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to study opportunities, for example, precipitation enhancement in the Istanbul area.

The global water cycle is changing, and the costs are sky high.

Changing weather patterns are happening globally and resulting in either too much or too little water. The exact cause of extreme change in weather patterns is very difficult to answer because the Earth’s water cycles and the impact of cloud seeding on weather patterns in the global water cycle is very complex. It is reasonable to assume that weather modification technology is contributing to considerable changes in rainfall through feedback loops. Given we are in uncharted territory with a lack of policy regarding weather modification strategy, society needs to prepare for disaster to ensure energy, food, and water resilience in our communities globally.

The impacts of changing weather patterns are increasing the economic and human costs, with predictions of a total global GDP loss in USD by sector between 2022 and 2050 to be $5.6 trillion USD. The infrastructure, economic and human cost on society is at critical levels affecting supply chains and is life threatening to humans and all biodiversity. The impacts are challenging life’s ecological and societal systems in following ways:

  • Large volumes of rainfall are increasing storm and flood risks

  • Longer, hotter drought period and wildfires are causing more damage to agriculture, buildings and infrastructure, and habitats

  • Underground aquifers worldwide are being drawn down

  • Large areas of forest and wetland continue to be cleared and drained

  • Rivers are being modified for hydropower and water supply

According to the report by GHD, Aquanomics: The economics of water risk and future resiliency, the biggest economic impact comes from storms (49%), flood (36%) and drought (15%). In 2021, the impact of storms, floods and drought affected 100 million people globally. The sectors facing the most risk include the manufacturing and distribution sector ($4211 bn) that AECO and M industries are dependent on.

The economic impact from now until 2050 is predicted by the graph below, as presented in the report by GHD Aquanomics: The economics of water risk and future resiliency.

The quality of the solutions we come up with will be in direct proportion to the quality of the description of the problem we are trying to solve.

" The advances expected in weather forecasting and climate prediction during this decade will support those ambitious goals by enabling a next generation of weather and climate services that help people, businesses, and governments to better mitigate risks, reduce losses, and materialize opportunities from the new intelligence of highly accurate and reliable forecasts and predictions," says the concluding chapter of the White Paper.

What it means to be resilient

In the fields of engineering and construction, resilience is the ability to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure and is an objective of design, maintenance and restoration for buildings, infrastructure, and communities. A resilient structure, system or community is expected to be able to buffer or resist an extreme event with minimal damages and functionality disruptions during the event; and after the event, it should be able to rapidly recover functionality, similar to, or even better than the pre-event level. The built environment must consider the connection between physical space and social consequence. It needs to be resilient to existing and emerging threats such as severe windstorms or earthquakes by creating robustness and redundancy in building design. Technologies such as 3D modelling can determine implications of changing conditions and the subsequent effects on the built environment enabling designers to reverse engineer their designs and plans to build for resilience.

“71% of this planet is water, however not all of it is usable for humans, industry or agriculture. The proportion that is suitable needs to be managed with accuracy, the operators and utilities need to work with efficiency. Digital solutions that combine not only the hydraulics, but also sensor and GIS data are no longer a nice to have, they are a must have. As water is life, we must treat it with the respect that it deserves.” -Chris Ryan, Head of Sales, APJ & India, Innovyze

From water ways to water wise

Society must foster a new relationship with nature, where water is viewed holistically, and the connection between land-based, freshwater, and marine ecosystems is recognized. Changes in weather patterns are resulting in storms that are more severe and require communities to build in buffers for resilience critical to social, environmental, and economic survival. A holistic water program is essential to provide safe and reliable drinking water together with improved delivery of waste and storm water. Holistically taking care of the infrastructure of water is taking care of life. There is hope for the future using intelligent design of our infrastructure that works together with nature: for example, investments in sanitation, regenerative farming, water-intelligent city planning, early-warning systems for storms and floods, and watershed restoration are among the solutions that could help reduce the impacts of droughts, floods, and storms across the world.

Collaborate, negotiate and innovate!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead

The technology to allow collaboration already exists, it is only a matter of putting intention and thought leadership together and putting solutions in the right place at the right time. Innovyze, when applied across the water system helps to relieve the social, environmental, and economic pressure around water risk mitigation and flood management. When considering using digital technology as a solution to the social economic and environmental system challenges, some elements to consider for the business case relate to:

  • Increased flooding, spills, pollution, and asset failures due to changing climate.

  • Population growth impacts on the effectiveness of water systems.

  • Increased demand for quicker deliverables and collaboration between stakeholders.

  • Inaction on maintenance is costing millions worldwide and infrastructure is ageing.

  • Return on investment over the next 100 years.

The vison for SDG 6: water and sanitation for all

When collaborating for the Sustainable Development Goals, it is important to bring scientists, policy makers, engineers and planners of the water system together even though there may be competing agendas or conflicts of intertest. Having conversations that matter together on complex issues requires the right voices in the room so to speak. To facilitate a conversation related to water resilience and infrastructure the following needs to be considered:

  • Identify the right people who understand water systems and flows in urban environments. Stormwater and sewer professionals are key drivers in creating actionable, flood readiness plans for catastrophic weather events.

  • Negotiate complex tender processes together with stakeholders, often under pressure. Multiple tenders are calling for fast, reliable technology to aid their mission in building community resilience.

  • Educate on the efficient use of water across the AECO and M industry and how to solve ageing infrastructure challenges.

  • Identify cost efficiencies in terms of time and waste and minimize water loss and costs as part of water circularity solutions.

It is wise to use Innovyze to design, build and solve

Innovyze is hydraulic modelling software, asset management and operational analytics for water cycle management that can be used to design for adaption and mitigation of evolving risks by designing future resilience into new projects and adopting an adaptive management model.

Innovyze software optimizes by improving performance of existing infrastructure with advanced technologies and data-driven insights and reduces the water needed for production as well as waste for agriculture. Their software is also used in emergency situations, with a forecasting and modelling package combined to analyse where, how much and what will be affected by stormwater. This is being used across Australia as well as Asia, Europe, and the Americas to assist emergency response teams to engage earlier, saving lives and assets.

Innovyze helps to solve the water conservation challenge by using a circular economy approach to water management. From ground water, rivers, dams and lakes, planning, managing, and prioritizing regenerative and nature-based solutions first, by focusing on recycling and resource recovery, and by prioritizing the water cycle from source to recycling working within nature’s cycles.

Think future and act now

Infrastructure resilience and sustainability are critical in positively shaping the future of water. The technology already exists. There is no lack of resources, the solution lies in competent leadership, efficient stakeholder engagement processes and acting collaboratively, in time. We must come together to design, build and solve our infrastructure challenges and ensure that our future means we all have clean and safe water for life.

Resources for life

The table below outlines the applications of Innovyze solutions and the benefits.

Contact VinZero (an ARKANCE company)

For technical support and further information please contact our global team here.

About VinZero (an ARKANCE company)

For over 20 years the brands under VinZero (an ARKANCE company) have been providing software solutions and professional services to Architectural, Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing industries helping them to understand the role of digitalization for the built environment. Businesses both large and small utilize VinZero’s dedicated industry experts to help navigate technologies as they emerge, driving efficiency and improving workflows. With a global focus on reducing emissions and increased focus directed towards industry, VinZero are now turning their attention to providing the linkages between using technology to digitize, and at the same time leveraging the valuable data insights it brings to build more sustainably. VinZero are passionate about helping their customers understand how the technologies they use today can help them to step towards net zero in the future, to build a better world.