GE report: Better incentives needed for widespread water reuse and recycling

The world's urban and industrial water use is projected to double by 2050, yet one fifth of the world's population, or some 1.2 billion people, already live in areas of water scarcity, states GE in a recent announcement. One of the best ways to stretch our planet's dwindling supply of available water is through increased reuse and recycling, yet progress in these areas has been limited for a host of economic, political and social reasons, the company notes.

One major stumbling block is a lack of effective incentives, according to a white paper to be issued by GE. The paper describes the multifaceted nature of the problem and highlights various incentive policies and structures from around the world to illustrate those that have been effective in encouraging water reuse and recycling. GE will present the white paper at its Water Summit, From Used to Useful  Middle East, taking place on April 5-6 in Saudi Arabia.

"Our goal is to stimulate action to preserve fresh water supplies," said Heiner Markhoff, president and CEO water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. "Cost-effective technologies already exist to solve virtually all water challenges, thus the focus needs to be placed on the human side of the equation. In that regard we see four main approaches: increased education and outreach so that people can see the need and the benefits; removal of bureaucratic and other barriers; effective use of mandates and regulations; and establishment of effective incentives, which is the focus of our latest white paper."

GE's Creating Effective Incentives for Water Reuse and Recycling white paper discusses four possible policy options: water pricing/discharge fees, water quality and demand trading, tax financing/public grants and public-private partnerships. It says that regardless of the incentive type, experience shows that incentives are most effective when implemented within a regulatory structure that already exists and functions well.
For more information, see the GE Energy Web site.

on April 6, 2011