Water's role in a developing country's journey to sustainability

Image Source: Roof garden at a local brewery company in Liuzhou, South China's Guangxi Zhuang chinadaily.com.cn

BMT WBM is one of Australia’s leading environmental consulting firms and has carried out environmental investigations since 1972. Tony Weber is an Associate at BMT WBM with over 25 years experience in the water industry. In his role, Tony has focussed on improving the management of stormwater, river basins and environmental management across the world, with a particular focus on the UK, Australia and China. Lindsey Beck recently interviewed Tony for Cleanleap to get his perspective on water’s role in a developing country’s journey to sustainability.

Lindsey: How has your experience in developed countries like Australia and the UK influenced your understanding of water’s role in the developing countries where you also work?



Tony: I think the critical thing is what we see is, in Australia and perhaps in the UK, there has been a fairly strong focus on the integration of all elements of the water cycle. And thinking about how we actually bring storm water, rain water, drinking water, and wastewater together in one management paradigm, rather than thinking about each one individually.

And by doing that, you actually look for synergy between them, so if you're able to harvest rainwater, you may be able to reduce the demand on the potable water. If you reduce your potable water demand, you may reduce your wastewater generation. For developing countries to think seriously about all of those things together, rather than just fixing up sanitation, or just learning about drinking water supply, could actually lead to a fairly major change in how they deliver infrastructure.


Lindsey: So what do you think would make the biggest impact in terms of creating a cleanleap in water?



Tony: In terms of looking at a cleanleap, it's not so much technology based, but actually thinking based. We need to change our thinking in these countries who are starting off on a journey to provide clean water, to provide basic sanitation, and to manage their place in the environment.


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