World Water Day : SUEZ' solutions to face up to the challenges

The theme of this year’s World Water Day, a UN initiative, is “waste water”. SUEZ, a company committed to universal access to water and the protection of natural resources, offers practical and innovative solutions for the entire water cycle to preserve, protect and diversify the resources.

In spite of the increasing quantities of wastewater and their pollutant load around the world, management of this precious resource is still largely insufficient today. Of the 165 billion m3 of wastewater collected and processed annually throughout the world, only 2% are reused at present. However, there are a number of treatment options and operational systems that enable wastewater to be reused to meet the growing water requirements of our cities, industries and agriculture. SUEZ offers a proactive response to these challenges, proposing practical solutions:

1. Accompanying leading industries

Control of the water cycle has become a major concern for many industrial players. This sector must meet objectives related to cost optimisation and economic performance, whilst dealing with strong environmental challenges and, notably, compliance with regulations. SUEZ offers its industrial customers tailored solutions to meet the specific constraints of their sectors in different geographic regions. In China, for example, SUEZ has signed a contract to manage the water of Shanghai’s industrial park, for which it has developed a technique involving a vegetated wet area. This area, called the Zone Libellule®, contains several hundred species of plants selected for their cleansing capabilities to purify the effluents of the wastewater treatment plant operated by SUEZ.

Libellule zone SUEZ

2. Shaping resourceful-cities

Cities and megacities around the world face new challenges, including urbanisation and demographic growth. By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will be concentrated in 600 cities. It is therefore essential that cities are constructed, starting right now, around man, his needs and requirements. SUEZ mobilises its assets to make these resourceful cities attractive. Mumbai, for example, with a population of over 15 million, has experienced intense urbanisation and strong demographic growth, which have increased the pressure on its water resources in recent years. In this context, the management of waste water has become a major challenge for the local authorities. In October 2016, the city signed a contract with SUEZ to design and build a wastewater treatment plant in Colaba. The project is part of a sanitation infrastructure development programme implemented by the Indian megacity to meet the needs of its growing population. SUEZ also recovers the calories available in the city centre to produce renewable energy from the hidden resources contained in the wastewater networks, groundwater and even in the hot water from showers and swimming pools. This process, called Degrés Bleus, is deployed in around fifteen sites in France, notably to heat the offices of the Elysée Palace. With this scheme, the Group makes clear its commitment to the circular economy approach, based on the principle of continuity in the product, waste, material, water, energy cycle.

3. Towards sustainable agriculture

The reuse of wastewater is an essential alternative for agriculture in the future. Growth of the world’s population necessarily goes hand in hand with an increase in agricultural production, but the amount of farmland is decreasing significantly and water resources are dwindling. Today’s farmers face a two-fold challenge: improving the productivity and profitability of their crops while preserving natural resources. SUEZ, aware of these stakes, is committed to helping farmers to adopt a circular economy approach and to continue to improve their practices. Using treatment techniques such as ultraviolet disinfection, reverse osmosis or membrane filtration, the Group is able to recycle wastewater without generating pollutants. The use of ultrafiltration membranes is particularly effective to provide water suitable for the needs of agriculture and industry. With a production of 800 million m3 of wastewater reused every year, SUEZ aims to multiply its alternative water offer by three by 2020.

A worldwide challenge infographie

4. Raising public awareness

World Water Day offers an annual opportunity to boost public awareness through various actions (open days, facility tours, etc.). In 2017, SUEZ has opted to attract the public’s attention to the importance of water resource protection, by launching an international photo competition via its Instagram account, @suez_group. Web users are invited to share photographs of their local water of all kinds and for all uses, via #SUEZforSharingWater. The competition will run from March 22 until April 5. The photographers of the 5 photos with the most “likes” will win a camera and have their photos published on the Group’s Instagram account.