Coping with water risks is the central theme of a meeting of business leaders in Spain on the challenges industries face to maintain production when supplies are unevenly distributed across the globe.
The two-day summit in Seville, organized by U.K. researcher Global Water Intelligence, starts April 22 and includes executives from Veolia Environnement SA, Europe’s largest water company, the World Bank, India’s Delhi Jal Board and Public Utilities Board, Singapore’s national water agency.
Water shortages are a daily issue in Yemen while changing climate speeds the melting of glaciers in Bolivia. Pipes that backed up last summer in Washington, D.C. sent sewage spewing into basements at a time when almost three-quarters of all diseases in India are caused by water contaminants. Half of the sewage in India’s capital flows untreated into the Yamuna River.
“Each of us over the next decade will be affected by a water-related event: a shortage, a flood, an infrastructure failure, an interruption to business or an economic disruption, which will have a bigger impact on our lives than we have ever experienced before,” GWI said on its website. “The challenge the world faces right now is in minimizing the impact of these events through better water-risk management.”
With the world’s population now three times larger than in 1950, businesses from energy companies and utilities that rely on water to soft-drink makers needing to secure reliable supplies are experiencing water-related issues.
In the U.S., the average resident uses about 100 gallons (379 liters) of water a day while those in sub-Saharan Africa make do with 2 to 5 gallons daily, according to the World Water Council.