It was almost as if we had ordered the weather: Heavy constantly pouring rain and violent gusts of wind.
A perfect frame for this Thursday morning’s Community Breakfast – the topic was nothing less than stormwater management.
Morten Grum, founder of Waterzerv and this morning’s center of attention, arrived and looked as drowned as the rest of us who’d ventured out into the rain on our bikes to get to work.
And as he said, he would have probably worked from home today if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was the key person of the morning talk.
We are happy he braved the heavy rain.
After all it is the object of what he has dedicated his worklife to finding a solution to! And as rain as we experience more and more often is called an actual event, we suspect it makes it easier to work – and cope – with on a daily basis 🙂
Due to climate changes we are facing more and heavier stormwater, and Danish – and foreign – municipalities and utilities are not yet geared to handle the increasing flow of rain which causes flooding and risk of pollution when rainwater and sewage mix and flood the streets.
The solution came by chance
With a PhD in Environmental Engineering Technology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Working for among others Krüger A/S that specializes in sustainable water treatment, Morten Grum had always worked within the area that today is the the primary focus point. Safe to say he had a good foundation for founding WaterZerv and develop the model that’s part of the solution to all the challenges, we’re facing when the rain hits hard: “InflowGo”.
Inspired by an Indian professor on YouTube, Morten Grum that by chance came across during Covid19, he and his team is creating an AI-accelerated stormwater model. The model is fast and can calculate the rainwater flow within seconds. Based on that the stakeholders can analyze and take action plan longterm.
The aim of the model is to facilitate more cross-disciplinary collaborations and get people out of silo working to make stakeholders and experts collaborate to create live-able and sustainable cities.
E.g. by focusing on how to prepare drainage systems in different utilities to be able to handle increasing stormwater without costly expansions of concrete pipes. Or building more green areas. Or by taking in the relevant stakeholders much earlier in the process.
But how to get all the stakeholders to work together – that’s the real callenge. Building a model isn’t and it seems that this is where the real work is.
An African farm and a house in Finland
…or maybe just a house – we don’t know. the essence is that Morten Grum was’t raised in rainy Denmark but brought up in Kenya, The Gambia and former Swaziland.
He moved back to Denmark when he was 20 and started studying. And decided that he was never moving further north than Copenhagen!
But life tends to not go as you plan. And so Morten married a Finnish lady and spends his holidays in a beautiful Victorian house deep in the forests of Finland! Far, far north of Copenhagen…..
But the african adventure wasn’t over for Morten, just because he moved back to Denmark as a young man.
His parents had moved to Malawi and in the process bought a big cross-country type car.
They wanted to rebuild it and turn it into a safari car they could sleep in.
The only problem was it had to be driven across a big part of the African continent. And the car was old.
Morten and his brother agreed to handle the transport, picked up the car and started the journey that ended up taking five and a half months.
Patience isn’t always a force and neither is bargaining with the locals
The car had been sitting in a garage for ages and as soon as it was hit by the heat all rubber parts just crumbled.
Obstacles like this didn’t stop the journey. Not even when they had to cross a part of the Congo River and the ferry hadn’t been functioning for six months.
When they got there the option was to transport the car on five canoes, sailed by two men in each canoe. A crazy and risky but apparently manageable way of transport. And the men HAD done it for quite some tome due to the missing ferry driver and the spareparts, he’d gone to get six months ago.
Three days went bargaining about a price for the transfer! And it landed on what Morten and his brother wanted back then. But thinking back he regrets the bargaining to this day. Because what those men did was a formidable piece of work that deserved a good pay.
Almost six months on the road, a good amount of patience and so many experiences richer.
The car reached it’s destination, Morten Grum’s parents drove it (not as much as intended) and Morten went back to his studies and life in the North.
And this is where he is, getting the full support from all his fellow members to persuade utilities, municipalities, government – you name it – to work together to manage the heavy rain and wind, we’re facing in the future.
Definition of event in connection to heavy rainfall:
Refers to instances during which the amount of rain or snow experienced in a location substantially exceeds what is normal.
Check out mor information about WaterZerv and InfloGo here: https://www.waterzerv.com/.
Morten shares a private office with his team members Franca and Johanna and part time member, Roland.