New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) joined forces with the Center For Water Research at Peking University last week to hold a conference in Beijing addressing “Water Management and Global Challenges.” Co-sponsored by the Environment & Public Health Network for Chinese Students and Scholars, the School for International Software at Wuhan University, the World Environment Center, Jordan University of Science and Technology, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ “Water for Life” Decade, HDR, and Coca Cola, the conference gathered distinguished experts discussing the global challenges of water management.
Speakers included government officials, academics, and leading global and water technology company representatives and were guided by an agenda focused on “Advances in Technology, Innovation, Health, and Policy.”
In opening remarks, NYIT President Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., said, “At NYIT, we teach our students about water and related issues, and they go into the world to help, and to explain new advances to co-workers and friends. We also spread information through our global system of campuses, such as here in China and in the Middle East. And we and all universities have a larger role. We are citadels of legitimacy. People trust us, and through the media we can change public notions about the need to embrace new technologies. We can also do it through conferences like this one.” NYIT has pledged to promote technology as a tool to address pressing global issues, and to work toward finding sustainable solutions in areas such as water and energy.
Keynote addresses featured presentations by UN and Chinese government officials including:
• Kenza KAOUAKIB-ROBINSON, Secretary of UN-Water, Senior Sustainable Development Officer, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that UN-Water is working on a set of targets that include the goal to provide “high quality water” around the world. As nearly all available freshwater around the world is groundwater, she said, “We are wasting this resource terribly; we will need to address water equity around the world and across all sectors.” Also, she announced that 2013 is designated as the U.N. Year of Water Cooperation, and emphasized that we must learn to live within our ecological and environmental space and conserve the water we have.
• Xikun YUAN, Distinguished Chinese Artist (UNEP Patron for Arts and Environment); Standing Member, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC); Goodwill Ambassador, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), shared that even artists can have an influence on water by bringing public attention and awareness to an important problem. “This is why I am here today. I keep making drawings of water and writing about water.”
• Honorable Ning LIU, Vice Minister of Water Resources, Ministry of Water Resources of the People's Republic of China, announced that China has gone through a risk assessment for water events that are very likely to occur and those that have a low probability of occurring, and is developing a management strategy to have a coordinated move between normal management and emergency management conditions.
Following the keynote addresses, distinguished speakers addressed the topic of “Global Water Challenges and Solutions.” Highlights include:
• Abdallah I. Husein MALKAWI, Ph.D., President and Professor of Geotechnical and Dam Engineering, Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST), outlined some measures that Jordan is taking to adjust to its current water problems, including transporting water around the country from two major rivers, the Jordan and the Yarmonk. Also, there is a project to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and to share water between the various water bodies. Desalination is also being widely applied to produce more water.
• Dr. Tianzhu ZHANG, Head of the Institute of Agricultural Planning, China Agricultural University, discussed how China plans to change rural areas into “urbanized agricultural areas” which are now being organized into mini-urban areas to mix the benefits of urban activities with the ability to produce the food needed by the country. Water conservation will be promoted in the new urban agricultural areas. It is the agricultural use of groundwater that is leading to groundwater depletion in many areas, especially in the north. The agricultural policy for China is looking at the water needs of various crops and at changing the types of crops being planted in China to reduce the need for irrigation.
• Chunmiao ZHENG, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Water Resources and Director, Center for Water Research, Peking University, in addressing “Can China Cope with its Water Crisis?” identified some solutions as China confronts its future of water scarcity, including: Improve water use efficiency and water conservation; Changes in agriculture water use; Develop rain harvesting technologies; Desalination; Water price reform; and Increased water transfer within the country.
• Paul ANID, Ph.D., Vice President, Water Quality Management Services, HDR Inc., discussed a project in Dubai where a coastal waterfront has been developed into artificial islands for residential and commercial structures, and how extreme weather events likely will damage these artificial islands. HDR has deployed an array of early warning and data collection buoys in the coastal sea to collect real-time information on currents, water level, water quality, and meteorological conditions, which is sent to a central data center. A sophisticated modeling software package uses the data to predict a wide range of coastal events and conditions.
Next on the agenda, a distinguished panel addressed the “Water-Energy Nexus: Breakthroughs and Interventions” and featured: Weidong ZHANG, Programme Manager, Energy and Environment Team, United Nations Development Programme in China; Junguo LIU, Ph.D., Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources, Beijing Forestry University; and Sarah MEYLAND, J.D., Associate Professor, NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences.
• Mr. Zhang discussed the aspects of water balance assessments. He noted that water problems are often an issue of governance rather than science. He also noted that strengthening civil society is an essential aspect of better water management. Within this, programs that promote sustainability through combining ecosystems and local planning are essential.
• Dr. Liu looked at the footprint of water practices within China; part of the problem is the large human population of China. With 21% of the world’s population, China is trying to meet its needs with only 6% of the world’s water and 9% of the world’s land. He noted that China is land rich and water poor, and that food production is very dependent on water.
• Prof. Meyland discussed links between water use and energy generation, which is often the second largest water-using sector in many nations, with agriculture typically first. In the power industry, nuclear uses the most water, followed by coal-generated and then oil-based power. At the same time, water treatment and distribution systems, drinking water and wastewater systems, often represent the largest energy users in many cities. The world needs to develop power production technologies not requiring massive amounts of cooling water. In fact, the energy contained in moving water may offer a solution to the world energy demand.
Featured on the second panel, “Industry Innovations and Research Advances in the Water Sector”, were Jasmine TIAN, Director of Sustainability, Coca-Cola Greater China; Erda LIN, Ph.D., Professor, Chief Scientist, and Former-Director General, Agro-Environment and Sustainable Development Institute; CPPCC Member: "Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS); and Xiaoliang MENG, Ph.D., International School of Software, Wuhan University. Highlights include:
• Ms. Tian discussed how the Coca-Cola Company has approached issues of water and other resources in its businesses practices and has many community programs around China to help promote water reuse. Its Clean Water Program has helped 100,000+ people in China get access to safe drinking water. Coca-Cola has worked with the UN Economic Development (UNED) program to teach children how to improve water quality, to improve their own quality of life, and to learn how to help others.
• Dr. Lin discussed how China is moving toward integrated watershed management to adapt to climate change. This approach is being applied in over 10,000 small watersheds around China. The loss of glaciers has led to a drop in runoff that is affecting China’s water resources. In response, China is changing the way it lays out farming areas and how it plans to irrigate farm land. This is a major undertaking within the planning of government programs.
• Dr. Meng discussed a joint project between Wuhan University, East Michigan State University, and the Great Lakes Commission in the U.S. and Canada, to map the Great East Lake in Wuhan, China, using GIS technology. The goal was for the universities to collaborate and develop a program of international management for the lake, using best practices similar to those developed for the U.S. Great Lakes. The GIS application was used to assist project leaders in making good decisions based on the observed and collected data connected to the lake system.
Lastly, several case studies were presented:
• Dr. Lingzhen DONG, Director, Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability, Asia Pacific, the Dow Chemical Company, presented a joint project between Dow Chemical and The Nature Conservancy. It looked at the beneficial value of planting trees and a reforestation effort at a site in Freeport, Texas and in Brazil. The study developed a cost/benefit analysis for planting trees as part of a mitigation project in the specific study areas.
• Nada Marie ANID, Ph.D., Dean, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, NYIT, discussed a collaborative project to bring clean production information and technologies to several Central and Latin American countries. Illinois Institute of Technology and NYIT are academic partners in the project. The U.S. Department of State is also a partner. The project will incorporate recycling and sustainable consumption, among other principles, and will develop clean production approaches that can be used to train industries in clean production practices. Small to medium-size companies will be involved in the training. The project’s goal is to promote clean production techniques through education in Latin America.
• Sayko LAW, CEO, Weide Biological Engineering Co., Ltd., presented a case study of a company that electroplates chromium onto other base metals. The company had a large water footprint and generated a considerable amount of polluted waste water. His study showed that by using a new electroplating process called M6, he could reduce water use by over 50%, recycle more than 90% of the water, and recycle 94% of chromium that ended up in the wastewater.
• Xiaohui CUI, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, NYIT, discussed a project with students at NYIT’s Nanjing campus, a student chapter of Engineers without Borders, and students in Peru. Through teleconferencing, the project is working to make the students more aware and involved in water issues. They are working together to identify sites where groundwater wells can be located using remote sensing technology, web-enhanced GIS, and mapping. This project is enabling students to be part of a collaborative effort to solve a problem of water scarcity.
• Xinghui XIA, Ph.D., Professor, School of the Environment, Beijing Normal University, described a study that looked at weather parameters such as precipitation, temperature, wind velocity, and solar radiation (sunlight). He found that higher precipitation rates in certain areas around the world (e.g. Sweden) could result in higher nitrogen loads running into the local waters. In Japan, he found that higher temperatures could result in an increase in anoxic (oxygen-poor) layers in local waters. He found that over time, the Yellow River, China’s second-largest river, will experience a higher load of sediments. He found a significant correlation between climate change and water quality deterioration in the Yellow River.
• Denghua YAN, Ph.D., China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower, presented a study that looked at carbon circulation, water circulation, and energy circulation in a watershed.
• Flemming PEDERSEN, Head of the Department for Water and the Environment, ALECTIA Denmark, shared that Denmark is protecting and managing its groundwater resource using a variety of approaches. Over the past 20 years, drinking water consumption has dropped by 30% due to the metering of water use. The nation has a project to map all the aquifers in the country. All wells are mapped and part of a national data collection system. Individuals can obtain water data from a central system. Landowners within well catchment areas must agree not to use fertilizers in order to prevent groundwater pollution.
• Xin’an YIN, Ph.D., Lecturer, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, presented a study looking at how best to balance the need for water, collected where rivers have been dammed, and the needs of the ecosystem that can be severely disrupted by such large-scale impoundments. The study found that managing flow in dammed rivers is better for the river ecosystem and that in order to achieve the goal of normalized river flow, better management of reservoir storage was necessary.
Photo caption (from left): Honorable Ning LIU, Ph.D., Vice Minister of Water Resources; The Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China; Nada Marie ANID, Ph.D., Dean, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, NYIT; Xikun YUAN; Standing Member, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Goodwill Ambassador, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); Kenza KAOUAKIB-ROBINSON, Secretary of UN-Water and Senior Sustainable Development Officer, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Edward GUILIANO, Ph.D., NYIT President; Chunmiao ZHENG, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Water Resources; Director of the Center for Water Research, Peking University; and Fengyun LEI, Deputy Director General, Department of Educational and Cultural Experts, State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs; at the "Water Management and Global Challenges" conference in Beijing on Oct. 16, 2012.
Photo Gallery: Water Management and Global Challenges
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