Water and its management is our main challenge for the future

An interesting discussion table has been held in LA RAZÓN on one of the issues that has been the focus of national news in recent months: drought and water management. If this issue has been a constant throughout the centuries in our country, it is even more so today, if possible, due to the evidence of climate change and the way it affects the daily lives of people and companies.

The droughts in Spaina are increasingly common and extreme. At the same time, episodes of torrential rain increase their irregularity and the difficulty in predicting them makes the predictive task of their management even more difficult, producing increasingly large losses, both in resources and materials.

On the other hand, the renewal of existing water infrastructure and the investment in new management systems ends up forming a panorama that, although it has seen how society and public administration has advanced in its treatment, awareness and management, still has a long way to go.

To address these issues, the journalist Ignacio Rodríguez Burgos moderated an interesting debate in which three experts participated: Cesar OssorioSustainability Manager of Acciona's Water business; Rebecca Serna Garcia, Head of Training and Technology at Young Water Professional; and Julio BerbelProfessor at the University of Córdoba.

After the presentation of the table and the speakers, Rodríguez Burgos gave them the floor so that each one could make a brief presentation. César Ossorio began the turn, who wanted to establish the difference between water scarcity and drought, a distinction that general society does not usually know, and that is very important when addressing this debate. “Water scarcity is proof that climate change is a transversal issue,” commented Ossorio. He concluded his presentation by making a point to raise awareness about the importance of renewing current water management systems, in addition to seeing what new infrastructures are necessary.

Next, Rebecca Serna García spoke. She appreciated that these types of debates are held, which are “very necessary and must also be universally accessible to everyone.” Serna García pointed out the need to reach all the people on the planet, since “currently half of the world's population is at risk, either due to scarcity or not being able to access safe water,” he commented, which is why the The main challenge of water resources management is, in addition to facing climate change, “supplying water to the entire population, reducing the resulting conflicts”, for which joint work by all the agents involved is very important.

Finally, Julio Berbel presented himself, explaining how in certain areas of Spain conscientious work has been done since the last great drought, in the mid-90s, so that today the consequences of episodes without water are more bearable. To this end, Berbel commented, “work has been done on the creation and renewal of both conventional and non-conventional infrastructure,” because as popular tradition states, a year of drought is solved with a year of rain, “but we have to work to fix what we have and prevent irregular episodes of torrential rains,” he commented, alluding to the losses in the distribution network, which have very high percentages.

Global measurements

Rodríguez Burgos then asked the speakers about the measures that should be taken to improve current water management. Ossorio advocated for short- and long-term measures. “Among the first, the renewal of networks to alleviate distribution losses, especially in rural environments, is essential,” he commented. For this, investment is presented as a key factor. So is the digitalization of the sector, thanks to which “we will be able to manage water through predictive processes.” Regarding long-term measures, Ossorio highlighted the need to “design infrastructures, such as desalination plants and water reuse systems, that take into account circular economy criteria. ”.

Progress could be made in all these aspects, but governance around water is a complicated issue, as Julio Berbel commented. “Dams have a bad reputation,” he commented, but it is a reality that “the biodiversity that surrounds, for example, the Melonar reservoir in Seville is much greater than that which surrounded the previous river, which also dried up every summer,” he explained. the professor Water governance is a complex issue, but it can be carried out if we look at models implemented in other countries, such as California, where “aquifers are recharged and each person pays an amount depending on the amount of water that is extracted.” of this deposit,” commented Berbel. In this way, he continued, companies and administrations are encouraged to collaborate in the management of a resource that is as necessary as it is scarce, expanding the business offering, creating new jobs and stimulating economic activity.

Social conscience

Rebecca Serna took the floor to introduce that “just as important as governance is social awareness and environmental education of new generations”, to see water as a resource even in its residual phases. “In Spain the level of water use is very low, around 11%,” commented Serna. “If society has misgivings about the reuse of water, it is due to mere ignorance,” Serna concluded.

However, Julio Berbel commented that reused water cannot be the solution to all problems, because “we cannot reuse at any cost, because we cannot reuse water from rivers that are already overexploited. The restitution of the resources that are used is very necessary,” commented Berbel. Obviously, “reclaimed water has a lot of potential,” commented Serna, and although there are many uses for applying this type of resource, such as watering gardens or cleaning streets, “it cannot be the solution to the problems of scarcity.” Berbel closed.

In this regard, Berbel commented on the case of the Tarragona industrial estate, which totally depends on the city's regenerated water, so it is 100% guaranteed that it will always have water resources for its activity, since “in situations of drought or scarcity it will always The use of water by people takes precedence over industrial or commercial use,” he commented. These measures are innovative and very intelligent in order to make responsible use of available resources, commented Berbel.

Collaboration between communities

Another topic that was touched upon during the discussion table was interconnections, both between communities and between water systems. That is, those known as transfers, but also the connection of, for example, different systems to deliver water to different areas far from the plants. This system in Spain is complicated, pointed out the moderator. Also between countries, since of the 150 powers that share hydrographic basins, there are only agreements for their exploitation in 20 of them.

In Africa, as Berbel pointed out, there is a large amount of groundwater, but there is no development. In fact, Serna explained, “the main water challenges on this continent involve basic sanitation systems, rather than treatment plants or reservoirs, systems that can guarantee that the water people consume has a minimum of hygiene,” he commented.

With these considerations, Ignacio Rodríguez Burgos thanked the presence of the speakers and the people who followed the debate through the streaming broadcast on the LA RAZÓN website, while saying goodbye to the connection of this interesting Analysis and debate table on water management and the fight against drought.