The TWENTY65 programme’s second annual conference, with the themes of ‘The values of water ’ and ‘Personal Data’ was a great success, thanks to the varied programme running over the 2 days of 17-18th April 2018. This year saw the numbers of delegates, sponsors and exhibitors increase, and we hope that this will continue in 2019 – showing that there is a need for this unique not-for-profit development and networking opportunity for Researchers, Practitioners, Water Companies, Technology Developers, Policy Makers and Regulators (in partnership with leading water sector organisations) to network and learn together to help pave the way for a future that delivers sustainable clean water for all.
The conference was organised around keynote sessions, creative and thematic workshops and networking activities. Subject matters, challenges and solutions were covered from many different perspectives. Through the networking sessions, new partnerships and collaborations were negotiated, and best practice sharing facilitated across the many areas of the industry that were present.
Joby Boxall, TWENTY65’s lead investigator opened the conference by welcoming the record number of attendees from around the world to a jam-packed programme of information sharing, and then welcomed the MP and Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Water, Angela Smith, to deliver the first keynote.
Angela touched on how we all take water for granted, and ‘to put it quite simply, water is a reliable old friend, delivered invisibly and without a fuss.’ She then continued on how this attitude needed to change – as highlighted by the increasing frequency of flood, drought and leakage showing signs of the fragility of the aging infrastructure, and climate change. Angela’s final remarks were about the 25 year Environment Plan. ‘Long on fuzzy ambitions and short on detail, it fails to convey a vision for a future where water is truly valued. It conveniently skates over the fact that the target for clean, healthy watercourses was initially set for 2027. So I finish with this one comment. Not only should Government commit to reform of water regulation, as an alternative to the much riskier and potentially disastrous choice of nationalization, but it should do so in the context of a commitment to put water at the heart of everything it does. In the Netherlands, for example, water is at the heart of the planning system and the environment’ She concluded on a positive note recognising that ‘collaboration between academia, the water industry, government and wider stakeholders has to be at the heart of delivering a more sustainable water future for us all, and I know that Twenty65 is committed to playing its part’.
The second keynote was from Tony Smith, from the Consumer Council for Water. Speaking on ‘How to make Water sustainable and legitimate’ – he stressed throughout that there was no ‘silver bullet’ answer to ensuring sustainable water for all in 2065, but there did need to be a change in perception in the ‘value’ of water in a society clearly divided into broad sectors that care or don’t care, and use water carefully or not.
The parallel sessions from day 1 covered subjects as diverse as Innovations & Applications of Robotics in the water sector, Modelling of organic matter transport, Water Cremation, Water Efficiency & behaviour change, Smart Water metering – is it worth the effort, and trends in water treatment.
You can check out the whole conference program here, for those of you that attended the event, you can login/register on the website and find copies of all the presentations in the under Conference 2018 section.
The main feedback from the conference was that, yet again, there was too much choice across all the parallel sessions. We thank all participants for their feedback, and promise to implement some of the suggestions next year – which include more structured networking (maybe an appointment system?), a closer review of the impacts of climate change and the environment, more innovations showcased (international & national).