Water: What if, What Else, & What are the Odds – Session Notes

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 9:56
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Last week, we saw the best turnout yet with 8 people representing VC, law, academia, IT, and finance for our 3 hour discussion on China’s water problems.

Considered a boring topic by many, it is probably going to be one of China’s (dare I say the worlds) biggest problems going forward.. and as such, importance trumped interest.

What is interesting about the issue, is that it is complex. There are a lot of things occurring in China that we discussed that have a significant impact on China’s water supply, and it is going to take consumer awareness, changing habits, technologies, and a little bit of luck to avert major problems.

Below are some of the nearly 4 pages of notes I took from the event, and I hope you will chime in with your thoughts on the topic as well. There is a lot at risk here, and with over 1500 readers a day I am hoping that we can get some dialogue going on what every one of use should recognize as a very important issue.

How serious is China’s water problem/ What are they?
o Water shortages (40% of population are experiencing shortage)
o Drought/ flood
o N/S – E/W imbalance – SW is bountiful/ NE sever shortages
o Inefficient usage – pork vs. poultry/ double cropping
o Pollution/ contamination

Public awareness of problems:

• A lot of people do not know, but overall awareness has grown – Wuxi
• Public does not understand conservation, but understand “shortages” and “pollution”… just don’t see their own role
o Market for bottled water and reverse osmosis machines are growing fast. Shows an awareness of a problem and a desire to protect oneself from it.

Administration/ New Ministry of Environment
• Water Resource Board would not be under new structure
• Questions surround river management and monitoring

Agricultural usage/ technologies
• Biggest barriers include farmer education of products, reluctance to trust, and incentives (farmers do not own land and are looking to maximize short term profits)
• Farmers know their land
o Use fertilizer in back of house (crops to be sold)
o Use manure in front of house (personal consumption)

Technologies to look out for
• Filtering
• Monitoring
• Water Management

Investment Climate:
• There are currently no china grown technologies
• A lot of 2nd generation western technology knockoffs
• A lot of dumb money in China

Update: the role of Israeli technology in water is an issue that has been commented on before on All Roads, and it came up again during the discussion. Following our meeting, I found this Reuters video  (h/t Environmental Leader), and while it is only 2 minutes in length, it does fit in well with the discussion

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