IFAT 2024 : Focusing on the water issues of our time

Abfall- und Rohstoffwirtschaft, Abwasser-, IFAT 2022, Messe München, München, Weltleitmesse für Wasser-

The environmental technology trade fair IFAT Munich reflects current topics in the water and wastewater industry.

- © Messe München GmbH, all rights reserved

From 13 to 17 May 2024, IFAT Munich, the world's leading trade fair for environmental technology, will once again showcase the challenges and market stimuli currently facing the international water and wastewater industry. Adapting to the consequences of climate change is one of the key themes at this year's event in Munich. The trade fair's programme of events includes a number of events dealing with aspects of this urgent social task. For example, the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA), the German Association of Cities, the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, the German Association of Counties, the German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (DVGW) and the German Association of Municipal Enterprises are organising the "Day of Resilient Communities" on 16 May from 9.30 a.m. The lectures and panel discussions will take place on the Blue Stage - a stage dedicated to water issues - in Hall B2.

Building blocks for sponge cities

In order to become more resilient to climate change, cities and municipalities need to be able to cope with the effects of increasing and more severe droughts and heavy rainfall. One promising concept is the water-conscious city, also known as the sponge city. Exhibitors at IFAT are providing helpful building blocks for its implementation. Examples include the ViaTree tree infiltration system from Mall GmbH in Donaueschingen, the EcoBloc infiltration system from Otto Graf GmbH in Teningen and the Stormclean rainwater treatment system from ACO GmbH in Büdelsdorf.

Related article: “Sustainability and environmental protection are a cross-industry task”

Implementing the European Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive

New legal requirements, namely at EU level, can also have a significant market-shaping effect. A current example is the European Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive. It has been comprehensively revised after more than 30 years, and the compromise from Brussels is now available. “The planned changes will have a significant impact on wastewater treatment in Europe, especially for the removal of anthropogenic trace substances, increasing energy efficiency and generating energy at municipal wastewater treatment plants, or for the treatment of mixed water,” says DWA President Prof. Uli Paetzel. Against this backdrop, the Association is organizing a session on 14 May at 4.30 p.m. on the Blue Stage at which developments and decisions on implementing the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive will be explained and discussed from a legal, technical and operational perspective.

Exhibitors will also be focusing on the more demanding requirements. For example, Huber SE from Berching will be presenting the newly developed RotaFilt cloth filter. It reliably separates fine suspended solids, such as sludge flakes and microplastics, and removes phosphorus by flocculation filtration. And ProMinent GmbH from Heidelberg will be demonstrating how micropollutants such as pharmaceutical residues can be removed with ozone, and how ozone can be generated particularly economically with modular systems.

At the the Blue Stage visitors can listen to lectures and panel discussions dedicated to water issues.

- © Messe München GmbH

Where is digitalization heading?

Digital transformation is also in full swing in the water and wastewater industry. The industry meeting in Munich will provide answers to questions such as Where are we in this process? What are the opportunities and risks? What direction can the digital journey take in the future? This focus topic will be concentrated in the Spotlight Area "Digitalisation in the Water Industry" at the West Entrance of the New Munich Trade Fair Centre. The special exhibition area organised by the DWA directly behind the association stands will focus on best practice solutions. Among other things, the DVGW will present the project "Source of the future. Water for Generations" project. As part of this project, the Lake Constance Waterworks is planning to use new facilities to secure the drinking water supply for around four million people in the coming decades. Visitors can use augmented reality to visually immerse themselves in the facilities and experience the use of digital technologies.

Last but not least, the local flood early warning system offers scope for future-oriented digital developments. At the stand of Endress + Hauser from Weil am Rhein, visitors can find out more about the Netilion flood monitoring system. It uses artificial intelligence to accurately assess flood situations at an early stage, based on data collected locally by water level gauges and rain and soil moisture sensors, combined with weather forecasts and terrain information. Digital twins are one of the key concepts of Industry 4.0 - also in the water industry. At the trade fair, Siemens AG from Erlangen, Germany, will be demonstrating a virtual model of a plant's entire life cycle. It enables lean processes to be implemented, from design and engineering to operation, maintenance and optimisation.

Water justice for a more harmonious world

Water also has a geopolitical dimension, perhaps now more than ever. Water shortages or inequitable distribution of this blue gold can lead to regional or international tensions. Factors such as advancing climate change, a growing world population and armed conflicts are exacerbating the situation. Conversely, fair and sustainable water use has the potential to promote harmonious coexistence at all levels. It is no coincidence that this year's World Water Day on 22 March was held under the motto "Water for Peace". "Many of our exhibitors' technologies and systems can be seen as contributions to greater global water justice and thus to more peace," says Philipp Eisenmann, Exhibition Director of IFAT Munich. One example is the mobile, pallet-sized PurAID water treatment system from Pureco of Budapest, Hungary. The low-cost, modular system is suitable for water supply in rural and remote areas. It removes arsenic, iron, manganese, ammonia, fluoride, bacteria and viruses from groundwater, well water and existing but contaminated tap water. The European Water Association (EWA) and the International Water Association (IWA), among others, will address this topic in the programme of events: On 14 May at 14.30, they are jointly organising the panel discussion "Invest in Water - Invest in Security" on the Blue Stage. “We have invited international players to report on their measures and experiences in supporting the water sector worldwide, which aim to promote security and peace,” explains EWA Secretary General Johannes Lohaus.