Every November 19, the United Nations promotes World Sanitation Day with the aim of raising awareness about taking measures to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: sanitation and water for all by 2030.
This year’s theme “Making the invisible resource visible”, focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater, as an inadequate system can risk dispersing wastewater into rivers, lakes and soils, thus contaminating these “invisible” water resources.
Cetaqua, with more than 15 years of experience, works to achieve sustainable groundwater management through alliances between the public and private sectors, as well as the scientific world.
An example of this commitment is the series of webinars that have been carried out by Cetaqua Andalucía within the framework of the GOTHAM project, part of the PRIMA call of the European Commission, with the aim of creating synergies and explaining the different ways of tackling a common challenge: groundwater.
These online seminars were organized in collaboration with the PRIMA Foundation itself and three other projects from the same call, InTheMED, eGROUNDWATER and RESERVOIR. Each of these addresses sustainable groundwater management from a different perspective: from hydrogeological characterization and governance to the application of different modeling approaches and ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) as well as citizen science to improve our knowledge of groundwater bodies, status, trends and management options.
Today, on the occasion of World Sanitation Day, we speak with some of the professionals who participated in these webinars to discuss the role played by the different actors in sustainable water management in terms of governance, sustainable management, quality and alliances as well as the future challenges that arise in this area.
Compromising groundwater is putting at risk the most abundant source of fresh water in the world that supports not only the supply of drinking water, but also sanitation systems, agriculture, the different productive sectors and ecosystems.
Knowing this reality allows us to establish the objectives and goals that shall be met in the future. Guadalupe Bru, researcher at the Spanish Geological and Mining Institute (IGME) affirms that one of the main challenges to be faced is “not compromising the reserves, as well as the quality, in the medium and long term, of this fundamental resource for life” because, just with that, “protection of aquifers, rivers, lagoons, wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems” will be guaranteed.
The best way to ensure this quality is to know what aspects should be controlled so as not to compromise reserves. Claudia Meisina, from the Università di Pavia in Italy, talks about how “the lack of information on some aspects, such as groundwater levels or the recharge capacity of aquifers, represents a critical drawback for an integrated and optimized management of water resources”.
For his part, Javier Valdés from the University of Alicante, talks about the need for a paradigm shift that “undoubtedly, is being accelerated with the new climatic circumstances that we are facing” since “the ‘waters’ should be considered residuals’ not as a residue, but as the raw material of an additional water resource”.
For this, raising public awareness plays a fundamental role, as highlighted by Manuel Pulido, director of the Institute of Water Engineering and the Environment (IIAMA) of the UPV and Professor of Hydraulic Engineering, since the IIAMA carries out projects in which they involve students to analyze these types of problems on climate change, sustainable development and water.
“The collaboration between the company, the university and the administration is the tripod that stabilizes the platform of good governance”, says Emilio Custodio, correspondent of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Spain, emeritus professor of groundwater hydrology at the UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalunya) and associate researcher at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. And, as stated by Jaime Gómez-Hernández, Professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the School of Civil Engineering, Canals and Ports of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and head of the Hydrogeology group of the Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering ( IIAMA) of the UPV, “the need to interact between all the parties involved is becoming more and more evident”, since it will only be possible to advance from the involvement of all the agents.
The close and necessary relationship that is established between all the actors “allows the direct transfer of the knowledge acquired to the management” in the companies that manage the integral water cycle, explains Claudia Meisina, a researcher at the Università di Pavia. “This type of knowledge is essential to fully understand the current state of aquifer systems, identify the impacts of climate change on water availability, and establish adaptation and mitigation measures to deal with potential future threats”.
It is an empirical fact that collaboration is key to facing the present and the future, making it possible to ensure that innovative, robust, relevant solutions are worked on and that generate great value for society as a whole.
At Cetaqua, we unite the scientific rigor of universities and research centers, the influence and positioning of associations in current trends, the vision of companies on the real economy and the knowledge of administrations to guide all processes of the integral water cycle towards the circular economy and a sustainable future.