2022 09 06 Water In Figures 2022

Water is a vital resource but rising water shortages and pollution are putting water under pressure the world over. The latest key figures from the Danish water companies, Water in Figures 2022, produced by the Danish Water and Wastewater Association (DANVA), provides an overview of the performances of water companies regarding water quality, water loss, energy consumption and discharges into the aquatic environment. This year, the Danish water sector has a unique opportunity to promote its high-tech solutions to the rest of the world at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition which is being held in Denmark for the first time.

The World Water Congress & Exhibition 2022, which is organized by DANVA and the international water association, IWA, will take place on 11–15 September in Copenhagen and will host thousands of water experts from across the world as they come together to share experiences and discuss solutions to global water problems. Danish know-how and technology will play an important role in this regard. During the congress, a political summit will be held on the contributions of water companies towards meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“Many countries are experiencing pressure on their water supplies from rivers and lakes due to climate change and pollution. We are the only country in the world to pump all drinking water directly from more protected reserves below the ground, delivering it cold and tasty to Danes without any added chlorine. Using 100 percent groundwater also has the added advantage that security of supply is less vulnerable to drought. In turn, it requires a high level of protection of extraction areas from pesticides and chemicals” says CEO at DANVA, Carl-Emil Larsen, adding that:

“Participants at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Bella Center Copenhagen will see Danish water technology solutions, including resource-saving systems and ways to harness wastewater for green energy and biogas.”

Low water consumption

DANVA’s new key figures for the water sector, Water in Figures 2022, shows that in 2021, Danes used 105 litres of water per day on average. That is up slightly on the years before the pandemic, with lockdowns naturally increasing consumption in Danish households. However, this level of consumption is still very low in global terms, and this is in part down to citizen awareness as to the value of drinking water as well as the tax and payment structure in Denmark.

The water companies also place focus on taking good care of our water before it reaches consumers. Denmark loses only 7.22 percent of all the drinking water that is transported across the nation’s roughly 45,000 kilometres of drinking water pipes. This is quite simply unique and the result of high ambitions and world-leading solutions.

A climate and energy-neutral water sector

It is also special that the water sector in Denmark has a stated goal of being energy and climate-neutral by 2030.

“This goal has been established to support the national climate agenda and to accelerate green water solutions. The key figures for energy consumption in the water sector show that DANVA members are well on their way. Many of the large treatment plants in Denmark already produce and sell more energy than they buy,” says Carl-Emil Larsen.

Primary emissions from the wastewater sector come from nitrous oxide and methane in the treatment processes and in this area, the sector will have a huge task to contend with in the coming years as a result of new government demands.

“In order to meet the new requirements, it will be crucial to create better regulatory opportunities in work across supply sectors. It is through sector coupling that we can optimise the quantity of biogas, green electricity and thermal energy,” says Carl-Emil Larsen.

Fewer overflows

Urban wastewater flows into the aquatic environment via treatment plants which retain nutrients. Fewer than 10% of all nitrogen discharges into Denmark’s aquatic environment come from wastewater. 60–70 percent come from agriculture. The key figures show that the number of combined sewer overflow installations are reduced and more combined systems are separated in to rainwater and wastewater systems. In 2010, 61 % of the Danish sewer systems were separated while in 2020 there has been an increase to 68 %.

“Combined Sewer Overflow is a challenge for Danish water companies.Problems from climate-related flooding and overflows, as well as the challenges pertaining to things such as medicine residues and chemicals such as PFAS, need to be addressed quickly. A lot of work is being done to reduce the effects of overflows in the water environment, however,the water companies are under pressure because of their financial conditions, with general efficiency requirements acting as an impediment to investments. DANVA is continuously addressing the problems and consequences with the Danish Parliament in its revision of the Water Sector Act. After all, we want Denmark to continue to be a leader within water solutions in the future as well,” says Carl-Emil Larsen.