Menno Holterman - Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nijhuis Saur Industries.

Personalized, enriched water from your kitchen tap

Picture yourself a few decades from now, opening your kitchen tap for a glass of water enriched with minerals for your aging bones. Then you water your garden with water not needed for drinking, but enriched for irrigation. ‘Mission Water is all about innovation,’ says Menno Holterman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nijhuis Saur Industries.

Saur mission home 4

‘A lot of people around the world still think of water as an inexpensive, plentiful and disposable resource,’ says Menno Holterman. ‘Many experts agree that as a society, we are failing to realize how valuable water is - and how so many other things that are important to us and to our planet depend upon it. Just think of all the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): they are aimed at big themes ranging from poverty, hunger, lack of education and gender issues to caring for life in the oceans, on land as well as providing peace and economic growth. The sixth goal, which is to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’, deals directly with water. The way I see it, water is the connector between all the different SDGs. Whatever the goal, you can put water at the heart of it. You name it, water plays a role in it: without water, we have bigger energy problems, no food, no hygiene and health, challenges in education - and, ultimately, no life. So for us at Saur, Mission Water is about delivering value-added services that will set up our society, our industries and our planet for a sustainable and resilient future.’

Innovation is key

Continuous innovation, says Menno Holterman, is one of the keys to an improved valuation of water - and to a brighter future for all. ‘In the water domain, there is room for continuous innovation in a lot of different areas and directions. From resource management to the water-energy-food nexus, from digitalization or on-line monitoring - think quite simply of smart meters helping small and big users to act more efficiently - to industrial water solutions.’

The linear infrastructure is falling short

A lot of this continuous innovation is going on as we speak, Menno Holterman continues. ‘Our main objective within Saur’s Industrial Water Services division is to deliver what we call decentralized water on demand. This involves replacing the conventional linear system of water distribution - producing water in one place and transporting it through many, many miles of pipelines to the end user, then treating the wastewater, discharging the treated water into the environment and starting the whole process again from scratch at the front. With climate change resulting in longer periods of drought, heavy rainfall and flooding, this linear water infrastructure is becoming ineffective and inefficient. Water is being wasted in some places, and in other places it is taking extortionate costs to deliver it.’

Small-scale, closed loop water solutions

One of the goals of Menno Holterman and his team is to replace this linear system with a decentralized, on-demand system. In Poland, for instance, Saur was the first water player certified to convert treated industrial wastewater back into drinking water. ‘More broadly, we are working on adaptive, small-scale closed loop water solutions for residential areas, cities and commercial buildings,’ he explains. ‘Think of collecting rainwater from local roofs and converting it into drinking water, then treating the used water and reusing it for washing machines and dishwashers and toilets. Then we take the toilet water and make it suitable for fertilizing the garden or farmland. And so on. It’s all about providing on-demand water quantity and quality. For example, drinking or process water converted from industrial effluent, drinking water with extra magnesium for elderly residents, or suitable, non-drinkable water for the garden or the toilet. Safe solutions, with wastage of valuable resources. Personalization will be a key to keeping water users - big or small, industrial or municipal - satisfied, while also valuing water more appropriately.’

Everyone can contribute

The on-demand, personalized water concept integrates the different values of Saur, from taking responsibility to staying close to our stakeholders. ‘One of the Saur’s strengths is that it brings together a comprehensive portfolio of game-changing and proprietary technologies, services and disciplines. There is a rich legacy in water services provided to communities, while the engineering and industrial water solutions divisions are rapidly expanding around the globe and gaining strength. When it comes to the differentiation and continuous innovation our sector needs, there is a role for every person and every entity across Saur. And beyond that, we have a strong drive to partner with other specialists and players. Partnership is the new leadership. These are truly challenging and exciting times.’