News

Swiss concepts and technologies for water-related challenges in Chile

Due to climate change and economic growth, Chile is facing important water shortages. The country is investing heavily in new infrastructure to secure water for human use and to assure the continuing economic growth, especially of its two major export sectors: mining and agriculture.

Water

The government plans to spend more than 5bn USD in water solutions, such as the access to new water sources, desalination, wastewater treatment, dams, artificial infiltration of aquifers; but also innovative strategies and systems to manage water more efficiently will be implemented. In addition to the government, private mining-, agro- and sanitary companies will invest several billions in such new technologies and services too.

With “SuizAgua – El Agua nos Une”, the Swiss Development Cooperation was active in Chile for nearly a decade. Part of their program was to sensitize local authorities, companies and the public to the effects of climate change on Water. Thanks to this work, Chilean opinion leader in the water sector recognize Switzerland as an important partner in the area of water management. The Embassy and the SBH are very well connected with the water related authorities. Swiss companies could benefit from the positive image the Swiss Development Cooperation created in the last years and strengthen their position as suppliers of innovative solutions for the Chilean market.

Interview

Born in Colombia, with nearly 30 years of working experience in Germany and now partner and CEO of NEREUS in Chile, José Hernandez understands the both the South American and the European culture. The former Vice-President Global Water and Heat of the SENSUS-Group gives us a short insight on the challenges in Chile and the opportunities for Swiss solutions. 

Why do you work in the water sector?
 
This is very personal, but I have spent most of my professional life in the water measurement industry and it has become my passion. Today, modern water management and treatment is becoming more and more valuable and urgent, so I want to contribute with my global experience.

What is the current water situation in Chile? 

There is a growing awareness of how important it is – especially in times of scarcity – to efficiently produce, distribute, use and treat water. Innovation in technology and processes available in the developed world are being looked at with attention in Chile.

Where do you see the future potential and what are your plans?

The urgent need for better water management is definitely an opportunity to integrate new quality measurement technologies into the operation of the different actors. It is now fully feasible that such information can be obtained and analysed on-line, enabling discrete leaps in the better use of the resource and asset management.

What will it take for this to become a reality and what role can the Swiss Business Hub Chile play in this?

As in any process of evolution and innovation, there is reluctance and hesitation to change. The urgency of the task of care and efficient use of water helps to push for these improvements. It is our responsibility as a supplier industry to present the right technologies for each application and to offer reliable implementations. The Swiss Business Hub has a lot to contribute with the Swiss experience in all the way that Switzerland has already gone in this direction.

José A. Hernandez is a Civil Engineer and Commercial Engineer from the University of Hannover / Germany. He has more than 30 years of experience in the field of water metering, 28 years of successful career within the SENSUS Group based in Germany, where he became the Executive Vice-President Global Water and Heat. Since 2019, he is founding partner and CEO of NEREUS in Chile, a company dedicated to the integration of innovative technologies for the measurement of raw, drinking and service water, as well as for the online monitoring of water quality and equipment with artificial intelligence for the detection of leaks in networks.

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