Reflections on the 1st Hellenic Water Forum: Advancing Water Management in Greece

On April 19, a significant milestone was marked in the realm of water management, as the 1st Hellenic Water Forum, powered by Olympios Group, convened at the Conference Center of National Insurance. This inaugural event brought together a diverse array of esteemed individuals and organizations, including state officials, institutional bodies, local government representatives, academics and industry experts, to explore key challenges and opportunities in water management.
The Forum, held under the auspices of esteemed organizations such as the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation, the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (KEDE) and the Hellenic Association of Municipal Water and Sewerage Utilities (EDEYA), provided a platform for in-depth discussions on pressing issues such as current water management needs, digitization of infrastructure, networks and services, as well as financial tools for sustainable water management.
In the opening speech, Mr. Dimitris Foufeas, Co-Founder of Olympios Group, expressed his expectations that the Forum could become a recurring event, emphasizing the urgent need for cooperation among all stakeholders involved to address the unique challenges posed by water in Greece. He also underscored the crucial role of climatic change in disrupting the water cycle and stressed the imperative upgrading of water resources both qualitatively and quantitatively. Then, Mr. Foufeas advocated for a holistic approach that respects local characteristics and cautioned against the irreversible impact of human activities on the environment. Furthermore, he referred to the significance of digitization of the agricultural sector, acknowledging its struggles to adapt but emphasizing its necessity in the broader context of water management. He posed urgent concerns regarding the actions required, timelines and collaborative efforts needed to tackle these challenges. Finally, Mr. Foufeas reaffirmed Olympios Group’s unwavering commitment to contributing to integrated solutions and initiatives, always with utmost respect for people and the environment.
In the panel discussion under the topic “Water Technology Trends 2024”, Mr. Angelos Dragkolas, CEO of IANIC, Member of Olympios Group, offered valuable insights into the objectives and endeavors of the company, providing a glimpse into the large-scale IoT water project managed on a national level, involving 700 thousand smart water meters and 1200 telemetry monitoring stations. He highlighted the critical juncture at which we stand digitally, emphasizing the need to continue and complete the digitization of networks and infrastructure. He also outlined key trends, including real- time, daily water balance assessment, leakage control to minimize non-revenue water, as well as the concept of digital twins in the water sector. Then, Mr. Dragkolas stressed the imperative of digitizing networks and infrastructure, emphasizing the importance of innovative technologies in this endeavor as opposed to the imponderable factor of empirical knowledge. He also addressed the pressing need to bolster water utilities workforce capacity, both quantitatively, to offset the impending retirements, and qualitatively, to ensure a skilled workforce adept in technological advancements. Additionally, he underscored the importance of the provision of adequate financial resources for software integration for the management and analysis of big data, as they stand in the core of digitization projects.
All in all, the Forum provided a platform for fruitful exchanges of ideas and knowledge-sharing among participants, paving the way for constructive collaborations and initiatives aimed at advancing water management practices in Greece and beyond. And as we reflect on its success, we extend our gratitude to all participants for their valuable contributions and commitment to building a more sustainable future for water.