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Tokyo will host the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition for the first time, bringing together over 6,000 water-related professionals from over 100 countries. Director General of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Bureau of Waterworks Masahiro Nakajima shared his expectations on this largest-ever congress.

“The 21st century is called the water century,” said Nakajima. “As the global water sector faces huge challenges, this congress is significant since different water professionals from around the world will gather to share, exchange and discuss their knowledge on water-related matters. While Tokyo Waterworks is a supplier of urban water, this congress will cover many areas from water shortages, droughts, agricultural water, environmental water issues, including sustainable development goals and more, meaning the topic of water will be discussed from multilateral perspectives.”

Being part of this international congress, Nakajima believes that Tokyo Waterworks’ initial goal is to successfully organize and execute this global event. “Then after the congress, we must show specific achievement results and carry them out. What we often call legacy is important,” he said. Tokyo Waterworks needs to disseminate its accumulated knowledge and technology while picking up cutting-edge techniques shared from around the world.

120 years have passed since a modern waterworks system was established in Tokyo. Although Tokyo has faced challenges in the past, today, Tokyo waterworks provides clean water to around 13 million people. “Tokyo has mountains and rivers that run into Tokyo Bay. Due to Tokyo’s landform and steep gradient, rainwater from rivers rapidly flows into the bay. In this sense, Tokyo has some risks in terms of water. We built dams and took other measures to secure water in this megacity,” said Nakajima. With these acquired skills and experiences, Tokyo waterworks is a world-class operation with only a 3 percent leakage rate.

Tokyo waterworks already has a proven track record regarding international cooperation in the field of human resource development, project development and information dissemination. According to Nakajima, an average of 400 water business personnel from Asian countries come every year to Tokyo’s Bureau of Waterworks Training and Technical Development Center annually, for lectures and training from the bureau’s experienced staff.

As part of official development assistance (ODA) activities classified as non-revenue water projects, Tokyo waterworks dispatches staff to places such as Yangon, Myanmar, and Delhi, India, for technical support, especially regarding leakage detection. “In the case of Myanmar’s ODA project, we were involved from initial planning, repairing water pipes and installing water meters. We mainly support the modernization of the water environment, such as water pipes and water technology in Asian countries,” said Nakajima.

Tokyo waterworks’ staff present and share their knowledge and expertise at various international conferences, such as this congress, for accumulation of innovative cases and cooperation with leading cities.

To welcome overseas guests, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will hold Tokyo Garden Night, an omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) reception, on Sept. 18 in Tokyo’s historical Kiyosumi Gardens for guests to experience and understand Japanese culture and enjoy Japanese food and drinks. “We’d like to offer delicious Japanese food and present some Japanese culture so guests can enjoy what Tokyo and Japan have to offer,” Nakajima said.

Several technical tours are also scheduled for Sept. 21, where participants can visit Tokyo waterworks and other related facilities to learn about Tokyo’s innovative water technologies. The Akigase Intake Weir and Asaka Purification Plant and the Training and Technical Development Center of the Tokyo Bureau of Waterworks are among the planned tour sites.

As the host country and to help support this congress, approximately 200 Tokyo waterworks’ staff are involved in various ways. For example, about 100 members wearing white Tokyo waterworks staff jackets will be on site to assist participants.

“There are only a few countries in the world where you can drink tap water and Tokyo is one of them. Considering that Tokyo is a megacity of 13 million, this is amazing,” said Nakajima. To promote the city’s safe, potable water, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is selling bottled tap water, branded as “Tokyo Pure Water.” Last year, the label was redesigned to mimic Edo-kiriko (traditional Japanese cut glass), with a blue translucent design and the kanji for mizu (water).

“Recently, plastic waste has become an issue, so the Tokyowater Drinking Station, a temporary water dispenser, will be installed at Tokyo Big Sight during the congress. This water dispenser will allow guests to drink cold tap water and fill their bottles,” said Nakajima. The Tokyowater Drinking Station features the same Edo-kiriko graphic as the Tokyo Pure Water bottles and has a physical design that accommodates all visitors, including those in wheelchairs.

“Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike is the keynote speaker on the morning of Sept. 17 and will speak about Tokyo’s water situation, global water issues and how to resolve these matters,” said Nakajima. “The governor will be delivering an important message, so I hope everyone will take this opportunity to listen to this speech.” Gov. Koike’s keynote speech is to be themed around a sustainable urban water cycle.

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