As extreme climatic conditions pose an ever-greater threat to the world’s cities and urban areas, water resilience is emerging as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. At the International Water Association’s (IWA) first seminar dedicated to climate resilience, Xylem’s Vice President and Regional Director for Greater Asia, Allan Hendry, highlighted the key solutions that can help communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters.
“CO2 is at record levels, while twelve of the hottest years on record happened in the last 15 years,” says Allan Hendry. “This is causing sea levels to rise, coupled with violent storms and increased precipitation which, in turn, leads to floods and storm surges.”
“Meanwhile, we’ve seen that many Asian countries are still unprepared for these events – with the cost of damages when they do occur often reaching billions of dollars. Public-private partnerships will be absolutely crucial as we seek to solve these issues,” he adds.
Allan Hendry was one of the keynote speakers at the IWA’s first seminar on climate resilience, held in Bangkok late last year. His presentation, entitled “Technology Solutions for Building Sustainable Urban Water Resilience,” underlined the crucial importance of partnership between the private and public sectors. He also described the ways in which Xylem is using its expertise and experience to contribute to urban resilience.
Planning, preventing and dewatering
While he acknowledges that there is no one, unique solution, Hendry emphasizes that Xylem has used its experience to address a wide range of different issues in the region over the years – from the planning and early warning systems that prevent floods from happening, through the drainage solutions that prepare for them, to the dewatering technologies that are most crucial in their aftermath.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 76 Flygt pumps from Xylem were used in the city’s Storm Water Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) initiative. The project centers on an ingenious flood control measure that transports storm water in a diversion tunnel, which doubles as a motorway link in drier periods. The 9.7-kilometer long tunnel, which can hold up to 1.0 million cubic-meters of water, leads the water to a river downstream from the city.
In Singapore, Xylem has teamed up with local water technology provider, Visenti, to develop a monitoring system, based on Xylem’s sensor technology, that will help address and prevent leaks, clogs and water-quality issues in the city’s drinking water. This year, the Public Utility Board of Singapore (PUB) will complete the installation of the new monitoring system across its entire drinking water supply network.
Meanwhile, in Manila in the Philippines, Xylem’s Flygt pumping technology has been used to increase flow capacity in a series of pumping stations. The 25 percent increase – to 18,000 liters per second – helps protect residential areas from monsoon flooding, as well as improving environmental and sanitary conditions in the area.
Last year, Xylem won a contract worth U.S. $19.6 million to provide custom-made Flygt pumps for the Xayaburi run-of-river hydropower dam, located on the Mekong River in Laos. The dam, which is slated to begin commercial operation in 2019, will allow water to be kept within the river’s course and minimally raise the water level to allow fish migration between the Upper and Lower Mekong, while providing electricity to about 1 million people in Laos and 3 million people in Thailand.
Investing in infrastructure and solutions
Hendry believes that the seminar in Bangkok provided an excellent learning ground for the sharing of knowledge and expertise between the various stakeholders involved in addressing water issues in the region.
“For many cities, the most dire, destructive consequence of climate change will be the greater frequency of devastating floods,” he adds. “They will need to invest in infrastructure and solutions – firstly, to prevent heavy rains and storm surges from causing floods; secondly, to diversify water sources, harden vulnerable locations and pre-position emergency responses and, finally, to get the water out if and when a flood does hit.”
“Xylem has the technologies, systems and experience to help cities with the critical tasks at every step of the chain.”
About the “Regional Seminar on Challenges and Responses to Extreme Climatic Events”
The IWA’s first seminar on climate resilience seminar was organized to support the development of networks to address flood and droughts risk in the region. This included providing a platform for translating data and information from flood forecasting and early warning systems to policymakers and end users across the region. The seminar, which was held in Bangkok and attracted some 100 attendees from over 20 countries, also provided an opportunity to initiate action research to build urban resilience with water and wastewater utilities.