Solutions for saving global water focus of Arizona-Israeli summit

Leaders from government, industry, finance and academia from two desert regions — Arizona and Israel — came together to share solutions to avert the anticipated global water crisis at the Business H20 Water Innovation Summit in Phoenix Tuesday.

Hosted by the United States and Arizona Chambers of Commerce, the summit is one of many being held worldwide as part of a new initiative to bring stakeholders together to encourage collaboration on water issues.

“It’s important to look around the world for best practices,” Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President for Middle East and Turkey Affairs for the U.S. Chamber told participants. “Lessons learned can be fast-tracked here in the U.S.”

The initiative’s goal is to improve water governance to promote industrial and economic growth, innovation and sustainable practices, corporate stewardship and investment in water infrastructure and technologies. It also encourages public-private partnerships and multinational collaboration.

Arizona, which has been strengthening its business ties with Israel, is interested in sharing water practices, said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber.

“Israel is a startup nation and Arizona is a startup state,” Hamer said. “Both Israel and Arizona have cultivated prosperous thriving economies in somewhat unlikely environments, but for both of us water is economic development.”

Israel is among the most water-scarce countries, yet it has achieved water security with a national water conveyance system, large- and small-scale desalination plants, efficient irrigation technologies, and other practices, said Oded Distel, head of Israel NewTech for the Israel Ministry of Economy and Industry. Today, Israel recycles 85 percent of its wastewater for agricultural use.

About 200 people attended the event including Arizona lawmakers.

Congressman-elect Greg Stanton spoke about the benefits of strengthening Arizona’s ties with Israel. Gov. Doug Ducey discussed the state’s struggle to finalize its portion of a seven-state pact for dealing with water shortages from the dwindling Colorado River that provides water for 40 million people.

Forty panelists described innovations and challenges facing stakeholders.

Noam Weisbrod, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel discussed the need to engage universities to produce better technology to reduce water usage in industry.

Financial experts from Goldman Sachs, Stantec and the United States Environmental Protection Agency spoke about investment opportunities for public-private partnerships.

Representatives from large corporations like Intel, Coca-Cola and Salt River Project detailed how new technology and practices are enabling them to conserve and replenish huge water supplies.

Barbara Martin, director of engineering and technical services for American Water Works, the largest association of water professionals in the world, reported on the specific needs of mid-sized water utilities. Results from a global survey identified four major challenges: water quality monitoring, pipeline system monitoring for deteriorating and broken lines, managing assets, and analytical and data measuring service.

Experts in water technology described how desalination, digital drip irrigation and digital water technology can address all these needs. Here’s a sampling of innovators at the summit that are sustaining the world’s water supplies:

Atomation This Israeli Internet of Things (IoT) startup company turns ‘dumb’ objects into smart ones. It developed a platform that gives an array of products IoT functionality for agriculture, water companies and other industries. Products include sensors to monitor and measure existing devices, smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions, automatic water shut-off systems and sensors and software for precision farming in greenhouses. 

Utilis Uses satellite and aerial imaging to detect leaks and non-revenue water. Images can cover 3.500 square kilometers at once. The leaks are displayed on geographic information system mapping reports that include street locations, saving significantly on labor associated with finding leaks.

KANDO This Israel startup develops solutions for end-to-end wastewater management for smart cities. Kando’s solution allows water utilities and industrial customers to detect, track and anticipate pollution events in real-time. The cloud-based solution together with wireless hardware measurement units allow collection of data from sewage networks.

AdEdge Water Technologies/ROTEC Develops technologies for sensing, monitoring, and prevention of mineral scaling on the surface of membranes and pipes in the water treatment industry. It also provides reverse osmosis systems for industries including drinking water, industrial process, mining, dewatering, construction, chemical, remediation, and general tertiary wastewater treatment.

Radiflow Developed software that identifies and protects against industrial cyber-attacks including water utility attacks. It can detect and eliminate malware on servers that can interrupt water service and systems.

Victoria Harker

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