Supporting the utility community

As many of you will know, the water utility community is particularly close to my heart. IWA is a powerful network, drawing in talented and motivated individuals. I value the contribution that our organisation makes to utilities, as well as to the wider water sector.

This edition of The Source includes excellent examples of areas in which the IWA network contributes to strengthening utilities and the expertise of the staff who run them.

The focus of the edition is intermittent water supply. Utilities have to make practical, real-world decisions and may have little choice but to deliver supplies on an intermittent basis, but this issue affects many millions of customers around the world.

Intermittent supply can be seen as a relatively narrow technical challenge, requiring network improvements, for example. It can also be seen as the end result of numerous factors. Managing and tackling intermittent water supply requires effort at many levels, including the policy and regulation that create the environment within which utilities operate. IWA’s members help build progress at all these levels. Although intermittent supply is not the preferred choice, as an organisation, IWA must help it be managed in the best way possible so that one day it may be solved. This edition also includes details of guidance prepared by IWA’s COVID-19 Task Force for utilities.

IWA is a powerful network, drawing in talented and motivated individuals

This guidance aims to support utilities as they continue to provide what are essential services during difficult times.

The pandemic affects utilities in many ways. This includes impacts across staffing, supply chains, safe operation, interactions with customers, and so on. Emergency or pandemic planning helps provide utilities with a robust and structured response. The Task Force guidance highlights key core principles that should be included in a response plan. It provides a valuable reference point for the current pandemic, with its recurring waves. It also provides a foundation that utilities can work with into the future, especially for utilities who have little experience of pandemic planning.

These two examples illustrate to me the value of IWA.

Against this backdrop, we have had to further postpone our next IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition to September 2022. It will still take place in the wonderful city of Copenhagen. This change became necessary because of the continuing unprecedented situation regarding COVID-19 and the broader uncertainty around live events and international travel – highlighted, for example, by the recent emergence of a virus mutation in the UK. The change provides greater certainty and provides for the fullest success of this important event. We also plan to hold a significant virtual congress in the second quarter of 2021.

Our World Water Congress & Exhibition represents IWA’s most vibrant, comprehensive and prominent opportunity to bring people together. It helps drive our efforts on the types of issues I describe above and for which progress is much needed. This underlines why the latest change was only made after deep consideration.

We can look forward to a fantastic Congress in Copenhagen in 2022. In the meantime, I know our vibrant water community will continue its great work through its many outlets and interactions. I wish you all well in your endeavours and thank you for your commitment and energy.