Water is priceless

"How much does water cost if we factor in all the collateral damage inflicted by water scarcity and droughts?" Jacob Bossaer, Founder and CEO of BOSAQ.

Water is an essential resource for life on Earth, every living organism needs it to thrive. Such an indispensable commodity shouldn’t be denied to anyone or anything, we all agree. Some also go further to suggest it should be free or ‘less expensive than what we pay now’.

From another perspective, food and energy are essential as well for our communities to exist and we pay royally to obtain them. Especially in the current economic situation with inflation causing food prices to rise and the energy crisis causing energy bills to reach extraordinary proportions.

Should we shift our viewpoint from cheap and free water towards a socially acceptable willingness to pay, representing the value it has in our ecosystem?”

Almost all projects on sustainable water management would pay itself back in limited time. New ways of thinking are needed to solve the water crisis. We can’t expect a cheap resource that is increasingly scarce and which causes severe collateral damage when not available or in times of extreme rainfall. Money must be put on the table to implement the necessary measures, either by

  • raising water prices, or
  • taxing those who squander water, or
  • promote those that use water sustainably and circular, or
  • incentivizing people and organizations to improve their water management, or
  • charging higher prices for water use above a certain threshold (comfort tariff as implemented in Belgium), or...

Increasing or changing the water tariff can act as a deterrent for wasteful water use and incentivize measures to create circular water loops to save this precious resource. However, care must be taken that everyone can afford the water. Social structures and tarriffs could be set up to protect those with limited financial means, because as a society we have the responsibility to take care of those in need.

Numbers don’t lie, recent years are among the driest and hottest ever encountered in Belgium and Europe and things are not going to improve any time soon. The current drought could even be the worst in 500 years in Europe. We’re facing tremendous costs that are not factored in the price of water.

The agricultural sector experiences diminished crop yield (20-25% in Flanders) due to low water availability. Heatwaves, droughts and wildfires become more and more frequent in Europe, resulting in never before seen scenarios of impacted regions. This summer, almost half of Europe is experiencing droughts of historic proportions, with raging wildfires, economic losses, rivers running dry, fish dying, people suffering physically and mentally from the heat,…

Flanders is a good example in battling drought by launching and executing the Blue Deal, a dedication to launch initiatives that prevent water scarcity. However, this doesn’t always work out efficiently, as experts sometimes disagree on measures to be taken against drought. In times where the rainfall deficit reaches historical levels, a strong policy with strict, proactive and long-term actions is essential!

Some actions we believe should be priority, besides reviewing the willingness to pay:

  • Reduce water consumption wisely, as every drop not used is the cheapest solution.
  • Infiltration/reuse of rainwater should be the priority, to maximally replenish ground water aquifers and minimize the need for tap water.
  • Raise constant awareness in the entire society on the importance of water and the social and economic consequences if we don’t act (even during rainy seasons). Dedicated communication campaigns that focus on positive messages and not on negative, forcing or obliging content. Change does not occur unless people are aware and convinced it should.
  • Reuse wastewater to close the loop in industry (process water) and society (drinking water), minimizing the need for fresh water.
  • Improve the resilience to extreme weather events (droughts and floods) to prevent economic losses now incurred.

BOSAQ actively works together with governmental and industrial stakeholders to battle water scarcity and has experts available to help any organization diminish water use, install water reuse and communicate these efforts to maximize return.

  • For governments, such as Suriname, Rwanda and Ukraine, we provide innovative and sustainable technologies for drinking water supply in rural areas, where people don’t have access to clean drinking water.
  • Many industrial partners have obtained a future-proof water management plan to minimize water use and maximize circularity in their organization. Our experts provide both consulting services on integrated water management and technology for water reuse.
  • Our experts actively to the broader audience on the need for sustainable water management, with a focus on what every single person can do through minor changes in behavior.
  • Our non-profit organization Water Heroes receives 10% of our profit to give vulnerable local communities access to improved sanitation facilities and a steady, sustainable source of clean drinking water. We aim for maximum social impact!

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