Paris Global Water Summit Plays Off Sewer System’s Success

Apr 04, 2014 9:17 am ET

(Updates with Nobel laureate, companies in 5th paragraph.)

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Paris’s sewers, a labyrinth of tunnels laid over 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) in the mid-19th century, have proved so effective they exist in the same form today.

The efficiency and endurance of the network makes the city a fitting host for the April 7-8 Global Water Intelligence summit, where 600 delegates will debate present-day supply concerns. Executives from France’s Veolia Environnement SA and Suez Environnement, Europe’s two biggest water and waste companies, will be among those attending.

The broad agenda of the meeting will allow large water users, from mining companies to oil and shale-gas drillers, to find “clarity” in discussing common sourcing issues and regulations, said Christopher Gasson, chief executive officer of Oxford, England-based Global Water Intelligence.

As water can help fuel industrial and economic growth, and a lack of supply crimp it, opportunities are ripe for companies that can provide efficient infrastructure for industries such as shale drilling, especially in emerging markets, according to GWI. Challenges include conflicts over shared waters and health threats from dirty supplies at a time when almost 20 percent of the Earth’s population live in areas of water scarcity.

Liberia’s president, Nobel Peace Prize-laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, will be among the event’s speakers. Those attending include executives from Thames Water Utilities Ltd., Pentair Ltd., Norges Bank, National Water Co. of Saudi Arabia, Abengoa SA, VA Tech Wabag Ltd. and Oasys Water Inc.

--With assistance from Tara Patel in Paris.