Recent announcements on water strategy coming from countries like the US, which traditionally has lagged behind in this area, signal a major rethink on this vital issue. Last month, US Congress introduced a bill for funding a $750 million programme of dedicated water recycling projects that will be initiated across 17 of the country’s western states before 2027.
This is a timely (or perhaps ‘well overdue’ is a more accurate sentiment) correction to the drastic water imbalance that the US has created. Currently, only 10% of wastewater in California is recycled (it’s a similar story across most of the country, with water reuse rates at or below 10%) but the state aims to massively boost this rate to 100% by 2035 through the creation of new water treatment and reclamation projects.
China is also thinking big and acting swiftly. The country has managed to double its national water reuse rates in the past decade, and continues to ramp up its efforts to achieve water security while tackling existing water pollution levels. In late March this year, China announced its new five-year wastewater roadmap. Its key goal is to raise the proportion of sewage the country treats to reusable standards to 25% by 2025. Headline solutions for achieving this ambitious goal include the creation of dozens of new treatment plants and the upgrading of 80,000km of wastewater collection pipelines.
In the Middle East, the constant pressure of water stress means that countries in the region have been generally ahead of the global curve when constructing and refining their national water strategies. However, there is always more to do, and the uptick of various water sustainability trends in 2021 underline the urgency of the problem. MENA governments are looking to phase out water subsidies to reduce consumption, while Saudi Arabia recently outlined 40 new water infrastructure projects across the kingdom to be implemented before 2026. Also, its recently formed Water Transmission & Technologies Company (WTTCO) now has a $16 billion investment plan to expand the country’s water transmission system up to 17,000km.