Apr 06, 2017

Latin America Sees Opportunity to Address Water Scarcity

GE Water & Process Technologies addresses potential for water recycling & reuse solutions

latin america, mexico, brazil, water, recycling, reuse, white paper, ge

GE Water & Process Technologies issued a white paper on “Addressing Water Scarcity through Recycling and Reuse: A Menu for Policymakers/Perspective on Latin America, Brazil and Mexico.” The paper underscores the potential for countries throughout Latin America—particularly Brazil and Mexico—to increase the use of water recycling and reuse solutions to help address their pressing water scarcity challenges.

The white paper was authored by Jon Freedman, leader of global partnerships and policy for Water & Process Technologies; Jessi Tseng, global commercial growth leader for Water & Process Technologies; Melissa Meeker, executive director of the WateReuse Assn. and CEO of the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation; and Marcus Vallero, regional commercial growth leader for Water & Process Technologies based in São Paulo, Brazil.

“This white paper seeks to help governments in Mexico, Brazil and throughout Latin American to consider their options to address their water scarcity challenges through water reuse programs,” said Freedman. “These options are a valuable starting point for governments to evaluate the appropriate mix of policies that might spur adoption of water reuse and recycling and provide real-world examples of countries already making significant and positive change for their communities.”

The authors note that while Latin America has almost 31% of the world’s fresh water resources—more fresh water per capita than any other region in the world—the region still faces acute water scarcity challenges.

The fundamental challenge, according to the paper, is that simply too much of the population lives in places where water is scarce. For example, 96% of Brazil’s population lives in areas that account for only 27% of the country’s water. In Mexico, more than 75% of the population lives in the central and northern regions, while 72% of the country’s fresh water is in the south. In Peru, 97.5% of the surface water is in the Peruvian Amazon basin, while only 30% of the population lives there.

However, despite the clear challenges, Latin America is by no means standing still. The white paper highlights many of the positive steps that governments throughout the region have already taken to address water scarcity. Both Brazil and Mexico, for example, have developed sophisticated policy regimes and invested billions of dollars to address their local water challenges.

Because water recycling and reuse solutions are most commonly implemented in communities with limited water supplies, the paper highlights four major types of policy strategies to increase the use of these two solutions in Latin America:

  • Education and outreach to provide more information on and recognition of water recycling and reuse efforts;
  • Reduction or removal of regulatory or cost barriers that prevent more water recycling and reuse;
  • Financial, regulatory or other incentives for water recycling and reuse; and
  • Adoption of more mandates and regulations requiring increased water recycling and reuse.

Since water reuse often requires the use of treatment technologies, the paper also briefly outlines available water treatment technologies. The terms “water recycling,” “reuse” and “reclamation” often are used for the recapture and potential further treatment of water from wastewater treatment facilities.

To download a copy of the white paper, please click here.