Digitalization, key in sustainable and efficient water management

At a time when part of Spain is affected by a severe drought, the value that the UN highlights for water: an engine of development and well-being, makes special sense. Which significantly widens the vision that considers it a mere usable resource, something important to take into account on World Water Day.

The United Nations aims for a 40% decrease in the water resources available in the world by 2030. In this context, it is essential to apply sustainability and efficiency criteria in the planning and strategy of water management to face and prevent the consequences. of water stress. In Spain, specifically, this path involves promoting the integrated management of water resources and encouraging advances in technology and digitalization. To achieve this, planning and strategies of public administrations and the capacity for innovation and investment of water service operating companies must move in the same direction.

Efficiency and sustainability

Currently, digitalization is an inseparable tool for efficient and sustainable water management. For Aqualia, a company that operates urban water services in more than 1,000 municipalities in Spain, digital transformation is a strategic line in which it has been engaged for more than 15 years, and has meant a change in its way of doing business. work. With which it is managing to optimize the performance of the networks, detect anomalous consumption in real time and reduce losses due to leaks. It has allocated 17 million euros to this chapter in 2023.

Digitization in the field

The role of digitalization is very visible in the war on Non-Registered Water (ANR), which covers leaks, errors in meter reading, fraud and unauthorized consumption. Factors that, together and on average, cause a water loss of 23.5% in Spain, more than 1,000 hm3 per year. Reducing just 10% would result in savings of 550 hm3 annually. Or, what is the same, the water consumed each year by the Community of Madrid.

Investing in infrastructure ensures the continuity of water serviceAQUALIA

Along these lines are the calls from PERTE for Digitalization of the Water Cycle, from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (Miteco), which subsidize projects to improve the efficiency of the urban water cycle. One of those selected in the first is the one presented by Aqualia and Arcgisa, a public services company in Campo de Gibraltar, for the digitalization of urban water in eight municipalities in Campo de Gibraltar. In the second call, Aqualia has presented 12 projects that encompass 596 municipalities with more than 3 million inhabitants together.

Adaptable and replicable

Digitalization adapts to the needs of any municipality, regardless of its characteristics and size. Talavera de la Reina and Villasequilla, both in Toledo, are two examples. In the first, since 2010 an improvement of 20 points has been achieved in the efficiency of the network, with an approximate saving of 1.8 million m3 per year, enough to fill 720 Olympic swimming pools. In Villasequilla, with less than 5,000 inhabitants, all the old meters have been replaced with new remote reading meters.

In the Region of Murcia and in the last ten years, the average improvement in the performance of the supply networks is 7.5 points in the municipalities where Aqualia operates and in 2022 alone, 2,526,890 m3 of water were saved. In San Pedro del Pinatar, for example, network losses went from 40% in 2018 to almost zero in 2022.

In Almería, a city where Aqualia has been working since 1993, although the population has grown by 23%, to 198,000 inhabitants, water consumption has been reduced by 47%, going from 30 hm3 to 16 hm3 in 2020. In During this period, investments in the city's water service have totaled almost 85 million euros.