Decentralised water: a pyramid scheme or the future?

Last week while I was in Washington, a World Bank economist made an unusual observation to me: “Water networks are like the pyramids. You just can’t build things like that any more because the labour costs are too high,” he said.

The Egyptians had access to slave labour, which usefully subsidised the cost of their great mausolea. These days, if you...

Stockholm Water Week with the woman in the turd suit

I have been in Stockholm for World Water Week. It is a good place to judge the direction of thought in the world outside the water business. The event is essentially an ideas market where academics and NGOs go to sell their thinking to the potential funders and the broader community of like-minded people who might offer affirmation of what they are doing.
The learning...

The tragedy of ISO’s new water footprinting standard

The International Standards Organisation published ISO 14046 last week outlining the principles, requirements and standards for measuring a water footprint. It is a brilliant but tragic document. It creates the definitive definition of a water footprint, but at the same time kills off the concept once and for all.

That said, ISO 14046 is still an important contribution...

A flood tide of opportunity as relationships shift

We’ve been working on a new global database of public private partnerships. It was the market which launched Global Water Intelligence back in 2000, after a decade in which private water projects had changed the shape of the international water business. By 2003 the market was effectively dead. Savage currency devaluations and the bad politics surrounding disputed...

Can you make money from agricultural water scarcity?

One question our customers are always asking is whether we have done anything on agricultural water. All of us know that farming is the biggest global water user (responsible for 70% of total withdrawals), and if scarcity is to be addressed, then farming has to be part of the solution.

The truth is that we have investigated the agricultural water market from two...

Five water company weddings and a cleantech funeral

There have been five significant acquisitions in the international water industry this past month:

-Mitsubishi taking a 38.4% stake in UAE-based desalter and concessions company Metito

-Hitatchi Zosen buying electrochlorination specialist Cumberland

-GE Water buying Monsal, which has a good position in the UK anaerobic digestion market

-Aquarion buying German industrial...