Seville’s efforts to reduce water consumption

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The Spanish public water operator of the city of Seville, EMASESA, is leading the EU-Funded project LIFE WATERCOOL – a water-efficient systemic concept for the climate change adaptation in urban areas whose main goal is to develop and test innovative solutions to cope with climate change impact in the urban environment.

LIFE WATERCOOL is an EU project with a main goal of developing and testing innovative solutions that can cope with high temperatures, both outdoors and indoors, and with temporarily high water run-off as well as drought situations in an urban environment subject to climate change. The urban water network will act as the basic structure for the development of urban green solutions and cooling measures to adapt to the effects of climate change, which will maximize the sustainability of the city and therefore citizens’ well-being as well.

Among those who advocate for the reduction of water consumption is mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribo, who stated that “Valencia reduces the water consumption, a measure which helps us reactivate the economy. We guarantee the supply of basic resources to all.”

Climate conditions in southern Spain, in particular the Andalucia region, are characterised by high temperatures as well as droughts. Therefore, innovative tools that can respond to the new climatic challenges and requirements, adapting to the impacts of climate change are more than necessary.

Although the dammed water guarantees a supply for two and a half years, the Emasesa’s goal is to reduce consumption by at least 2 percent compared to 112 liters per inhabitant per day. Emasesa will activate the Pre-Alert due to drought, which implies a greater collaboration of citizens and companies to achieve an increase of water savings. The reduction in the volume of dammed water due to the lack of rainfall was one of the motives to take action and preserve more water, which is a measure that involves a citizen awareness campaign in order to induce greater savings. 

The Pre-Alert is contemplated in the Emergency Plan for Drought Situations (PEM) and is activated when the Emasesa water supply reservoirs reduce their level below 324 cubic hectometres. This measure has already been taken by other public water companies in the Andalusian community. Presently, Emasesa can still guarantee domestic consumption for two and a half years, as long as it is used responsibly, hence the awareness and responsibility of citizens and companies and industries is required. The objective of this Pre-Alert is to reduce demand and promote voluntary savings that allow a reduction of at least 2 percent compared to the current average 116 liters per inhabitant and day.

Citizen collaboration is an essential key to face the situation and to be able to reduce consumption. To reach this goal of reducing consumption, a savings campaign will be launched to promote the rational use of water and environmental awareness. The Pre-Alert does not imply water cuts at any time, but only that call for citizen awareness and collaboration. The Alert threshold is set at 268 hm3 and the Emergency threshold at 221 hm3. PEM Concern for drought management is not something new for Emasesa. Thus, in 1998 the first formal document was drawn up that established an action protocol for situations of scarcity of water resources, the ‘Drought Manual’. The current plan was approved in March 2021 after undergoing a public consultation process, in which different public and private entities participated. It should be noted that this process was carried out on a voluntary basis by Emasesa, with the collaboration of the Spanish Association of Public Supply and Sanitation Operators (AEOPAS) and that it was carried out within the Water Observatory, Emasesa’s advisory and participatory body. 

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