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Change in attitude needed to combat water shortage crisis

Jason Howlett, Xylem managing director for the UK and Ireland, warns that industry must change its mentality in order to combat water shortage crisis.

Jason Howlett.

Mr Howlett’s warning follows the delivery of a speech by Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, at the Waterwise Conference on March 19, in which he stated that many parts of the UK – and particularly the South East – will face major water deficits by 2050.

Mr Howlett states: “Having read Sir James Bevan’s comments in the news, they come as a breath of fresh air for Xylem. I am a firm believer that the industry needs to change its mentality in order to combat the water shortage crisis.

“It is certainly not new news that England will not have enough water to meet demand in 25 years. However, the head of the Environment Agency is taking a bold stance to drive awareness. Something disruptive needs to happen and Xylem supports this approach, along with Michael Gove’s recent leakage targets – we are still losing three billion litres of water to leaks every day.

“Making small tweaks to our daily habits is all well and good, but it is not enough - a more permanent change is needed. Xylem has evolved itself to introduce proven technologies from around the world that will help companies identify problems before they happen. The acquisition of Pure Technologies to detect leaks and vulnerable points in the network before failure, and Visenti, which models and identifies issues on the network before the customer is aware, are prime examples of this. Why? Because we are committed to developing innovative technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. We have invested in these companies for the greater good as new technologies require time, commitment and practice before they become established solutions.   

“We are also investing heavily across the globe to highlight the water scarcity issue via high profile partnerships with the likes of Manchester City Football Club. 

“In summary, I am worried there is too much conservatism and risk aversion in the industry. Companies should not fear failure through investing in new ways of doing things, as moving too slow could be even more detrimental to our future.”

28 March 2019

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