Photo: Viktor Pelin and Susanne Steen Kronborg, VA SYD, in the Nordic exhibition booth and Sweden’s exhibition wall.

From 16 to 21 September 2018, the International Water Association (IWA) was hosted by the World Water Congress and Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. It was very international and gathered almost 10 000 participants from around a hundred countries. In Congress, half of the visitors participated in the lives and pleasures of questions, discussions and presentations in 68 workshops and training sessions, 88 technical sessions with approximately 350 presentations and over 600 postings. These also visited the exhibition which attracted another 5,000 fair participants, mainly from Japan.

WIN Water attended the exhibition in IWA Sweden’s part of the Nordic stand. Kenneth M Persson gave a brief account of WIN’s work during Monday’s lunch for about 60 listeners. Several WIN companies exhibited in the exhibition area, and it is interesting to note that the Innovation Company AquaQ was awarded a gold medal by IWA in the competition for market-changing water technology and infrastructure at the IWA Project Innovation Award.

The actual Congress took its starting point in Agenda 2030, or the UN’s sustainability goals. All keynote presentations and many of the seminars had Agenda 2030 as the basic theme. It was about the cities of the future, with blue-green solutions to reduce heat waves, droughts and floods, and to increase the formation of groundwater in the city center. It was about ways of engaging citizens in society so that they became truly involved in processes and decisions that touched them.

Drinking water production in a changing climate showed that the problems facing water supply in Sweden had many parallels in the rest of the world. It was interesting to see that molecular biology methods come strong to measure and understand the microbial composition in raw water, waterworks and wiring. Several presentations showed that the fastest sequencing methods available commercially today can deliver bacterial data within two to four hours. Disinfection with UV LED technology as an alternative to fluorescent lamps was reported in some presentations. Increasing levels of organic matter due to leaching from soil and increased aquatic growth in lakes and streams was a problem that must be handled by waterworks in China, Japan, France and Sweden, among other things, by means of membrane technology and better control of the flocking in the waterworks.

The circular economy and recycling of water and nutrition from sewage treatment plants to agriculture was another main theme. However, ways to pack products from the treatment plant to clarify the value of water and nutrition are needed, since most of the resources for the present are donated, if anyone requests them. Japan has chosen to burn sewage sludge and, in some cases, extracts phosphorus from the ash from the combustion plants.

On several occasions, the need for more innovation in the water sector was reported. Good examples of innovation procurement were reported by Washington D.C. and Singapore, among other things. There were fewer examples of how open innovation was facilitated by market players. Rather, the speakers found that it was difficult to build such a network. Next time, the IWA World Congress in Copenhagen will be held in October 2020. WIN Water should take the opportunity to take even more space in the program. The water sector’s needs for innovation are far from saturated.

Reflections made by Kenneth M Persson, Founder of WIN Water and Professor at the Division of Water Resources Engineering at Lund University.

Photo 1: Kenneth M Persson, as part of the Swedish lunch lecture in the Nordic exhibition booth.
Photo 2: The Mayor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, holds the opening speech.

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