Locale : Global (English)
An aerial view of Rosendale wastewater treatment plant in New Zealand

World Water Day: What does the future hold for the water sector? David Thomas

World Water Day draws attention to the fact that many people suffer from either too little of this precious resource – with droughts or poor sanitation blighting communities – or too much, with floods and rainstorms causing untold damage.

Changes in the world’s climate mean we are seeing significant changes to where water is, where it isn’t, and the increasingly extreme nature in which it presents itself. Dedicated professionals who can help to manage water resources in the face of these changes are crucial in providing a sustainable future for the planet and its inhabitants.

Mott MacDonald has been in the water business since 1889. It is now a global water sector business and has expertise in all aspects of the water cycle, from ground abstraction and treatment to distribution and sanitation.

We work in both developed and developing countries and make a difference by connecting with academia; participating in professional fora; and engaging with those who decide and implement policy. We have 2,500 water and environment professionals in our business, but we are always looking for more enthusiastic and dedicated people to join us.

However, the challenges facing the water management sector have changed since I started working in the industry in 1984, when it was taken for granted that water would always be available but just needed to be effectively managed.

Now, climate change poses new challenges, as we endeavour to develop new infrastructure while minimising our effect on the environment. Further increases in global temperatures ‘locked in’ due to historic and ongoing carbon emissions mean we need to take climate resilience seriously too. Urbanisation and population growth demand more from limited resources, while increasingly stringent regulatory environments add further constraints to the way we develop water infrastructure.

There are also new opportunities. Asset information management and 5D BIM encourage whole life efficiencies, cutting costs to clients and the end customer. Build offsite techniques are making asset development quicker, safer and cheaper. And smart infrastructure – which applies the digital revolution to our assets – will in time prove to be the most cost effective way of squeezing new efficiencies from old assets. No doubt in 20 years’ time, there will be additional threats and opportunities we have yet to identify or understand today.

All this means that today’s water management professionals need to be ready to learn new skills and to collaborate with professionals from sectors quite remote from water and engineering. Nobody knows how these challenges and opportunities will play out, but I am hopeful that the water sector will evolve, absorbing people with the right skillsets to confront the problems of the coming decades.

expand-image mail-envelope icon-icon-linkedin-mmdv-green icon-close arrow-left icon-section icon-section-white arrow-down icon-arrow-down-sml icon-arrow-left-lrg icon-arrow-left-sml icon-arrow-right-lrg icon-arrow-right-sml icon-arrow-up-sml icon-champions icon-section icon-section-white icon-download icon-education icon-email icon-grid-view icon-language icon-link-to icon-list-view icon-location icon-login-register ec-icon-login-register icon-ec-apply-arrow icon-ar-apply-arrow icon-mm-icon-search-ec icon-minus icon-more icon-phone icon-plus icon-recently-viewed icon-search icon hash key-facts-corner-sash quote-underline social-icon-facebook social-icon-googleplus social-icon-linkedin social-icon-twitter social-share-icon-facebook social-share-icon-facebook social-share-icon-googleplus social-share-icon-googleplus social-share-icon-instagram social-share-icon-instagram social-share-icon-linkedin social-share-icon-linkedin social-share-icon-twitter social-share-icon-twitter social-share-icon-youtube social-share-icon-youtube sina-weibo MM-Shape01-Quote-Views MM-Shape03-Quote-Locations MM-Shape05-Quote-Projects MM-Shape12-Quote-Sectors MM-Shape13-Quote-Expertise MM-Shape14-Quote-About-Us MM-Shape14-Quote-Careers checkmark icon-expand-view icon-apply-now menu linkedin-mmdv-green icon-ad-close mail-mmdv-green icon-ad-menu menu-close ec-menu-close sphere icon-cookies icon-legal icon-registered-companies target rotate-screen video-replay-flat video-replay audio-mute audio-play
Mott MacDonald main logo

Would you like to hear more from us?

Sign up to receive notifications