October 23rd’s Financial Times article on the current flooding in Thailand tells us that the global supply chain of auto-parts and hard-disc drives has been interrupted by the inundation of the industrial heartland to the north of Bangkok.
A quick online search reveals that Bangkok is known to be highly vulnerable to flooding. A 2009 paper by the East-West Centre states that flood protection in Bangkok is inadequate for even a 30 year flood event.
Water related risk, which can result from too much, too little, or the wrong quality water, needs to be taken seriously by any multinational with a global supply chain. However water related risk makes it into the risk section of very few financial reports.
Incidentally, both Shanghai and Guangzhou are listed in the top ten list of global cities vulnerable to coastal flooding…both favourite locations for multinationals in China. Do you know what the water related risks are to your supply chain?
A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the City of Sydney plans to utilise an aquifer to the south of the city for storage in the operation of a city-wide non-potable water network. The network will be integrated with a decentralised trigeneration network.
The most interesting thing about this is that the corporatised water utility Sydney Water provides water and wastewater services to Sydney City, and the City of Sydney local government entity has no experience with operating water and wastewater systems. In fact the terms of the original design tender specified that the system should be able to constructed under a PPP arrangement, where presumably a private entity will operate the system.
This will be complicated from a governance perspective, let alone an engineering one, and I will be watching progress with interest. The introduction of the aquifer storage solution introduces a lot of additional complexity from an environmental perspective.
Certainly if it gets off the ground, this will be a project of sufficient size to be well and truly on the global water radar, and the global water majors will be interested. I wonder who will have the capability and the appetite to take on the risk profile of a large unconventional system like this one?