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A Rúa promotes the circular economy to address water stress

– This small town in Galicia hosts the presentation of the Ruagua project, an initiative coordinated by the Consorcio de Aguas de Valdeorras, AquaOurense and Cetaqua, with the support of the COTEC Foundation

 Ruagua is committed to the circular economy through better use of water-energy-waste resources

A Rúa hosted the presentation event of the Ruagua project at the Avenida Cultural Centre, which was attended by more than a hundred residents of the town.

Ruagua, an innovation project coordinated by the Consorcio de Aguas de Valdeorras, AquaOurense and Cetaqua Galicia, is one of the three winning proposals of the DEMOS Project, an initiative promoted by the COTEC Foundation in partnership with IKEA.

This project fosters the circular economy in A Rúa through better use of water-energy-waste resources, establishing a replicable model for rural-industrial symbiosis.

Citizens featured at the Ruagua presentation event

The event invited the citizens of A Rúa to share their concerns about the water stress suffered by the municipality and to explain how Ruagua can improve this problem from the perspective of stakeholders such as the town’s Neighbours’ Association, the D.O. Valdeorras and the IES Cosme López secondary school.

The event was chaired by César Fernandez, second vice-president of the Provincial Council, who remarked that Ruagua “is a model to learn from”, highlighting how “rural initiatives can be a model for cities and other environments”.

Circularity, the project’s main theme

The alternative water resource will be used in the municipality itself to maintain the main economic activities, including wine production. Furthermore, it will favour the environmental health of the surrounding area by irrigating green areas, parks and gardens, protecting the ecological flow of bodies of water and caring for biodiversity and the protection of inhabited areas, providing infrastructures that facilitate the prevention and extinction of fires, helping to reduce the water stress suffered by the municipality.

“We must treat water consciously; it is an obligation that we have not only as a public authority, but as a society and that also implies looking at water differently from how we have looked at it until now,” stressed A Rúa Mayor María González Albert, referring to reclaimed water.

Regarding the waste-energy themes, Ruagua will promote zero waste and reduce the use of fertilisers and chemicals, offering high-quality compost. It will also promote the production of solar power as a renewable energy source, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Public-private partnerships and alliances, keys to Ruagua’s success

Ruagua benefits from the joint development and measurement work undertaken by the COTEC Foundation and the participation of all local stakeholders interested in water reuse and co-governance.

This project is part of DEMOS, a COTEC Foundation initiative that aims to show the real value and the positive or negative impact of 3 systemic circular economy projects in 3 rural communities in Spain. COTEC Foundation Chairwoman Cristina Garmendia explained that: “The goal is to generate evidence to facilitate future decision-making in other places and at other scales, at political, industry and community levels, putting the impact it generates in the community at the centre.” She added: “That’s why everything that happens in A Rúa as part of this project is so important: the analysis and the conclusions of this demonstration project will help replicate, scale and improve innovation, the circular economy and life in other towns and regions of Spain.”

The project is an example of the public-private partnership involving the government, with the support of the A Rúa Town Council and Ourense Provincial Council, the wine sector, with the participation of D.O. Valdeorras; the tourism sector, with the Valdeorras Wine Route; private enterprise, with the participation of AquaOurense; the Water Technology Centre, Cetaqua; public services, such as the Ourense Provincial Fire and Rescue Consortium; and the inhabitants of A Rúa.

For his part, Nurettin Acar, Ikea Spain’s CEO, thanked the team for their hard work to ensure Ruagua’s success, emphasising that “circularity is very important for IKEA and, thanks to the Allen Plan and the COTEC Foundation, we are able to boost the commitment to ensuring sustainable coverage of the demand for water”.

The Allen Plan is an initiative by IKEA to contribute to the recovery of the Spanish economy and society. Its main aim is to create employment and promote sustainable development. The Allen Plan will be carried out between 2022 and 2025. Along with COTEC, three other institutions are also involved in the Allen Plan: the WWF, FADEMUR and ASHOKA.