European Public Water Operators Launch "Water Erasmus"

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The « APE Water Erasmus », launched in Paris on the 29th of May, aims at promoting knowledge sharing among public operators through short-term staff exchanges. The aim of this open-ended project is to build on APE members’ best practices and experiences in order to increase the skills of the public water industry in addressing common challenges.

By making possible the free circulation of know-how and competences and by putting operators’ staff centre-stage, the Water Erasmus project will allow public water operators share and gain competences to improve their efficiency. As stated by Alessandro Russo, President of the Italian utility CAP Holding, at the origin of the Water Erasmus project: “Sharing best practices as a way to find effective solutions to common challenges has been one of the main objectives of our association since its creation. We are persuaded that, when the staff of our utilities meet to exchange experiences, useful synergies can be developed so as to ensure a continuous improvement of public water management in Europe.”

Indeed, the voluntary and not-for profit collaboration between water utilities is the basis for the Water Erasmus project, which will also help drive forward a common culture of water management. Célia Blauel, President of the French drinking water supplier Eau de Paris and newly elected President of Aqua Publica Europea declared: “of course, one of the aims of the Water Erasmus project is to promote the cooperation and technical exchanges between public operators; nevertheless, above all, we want to show that public water management at the European level is based on human relationships, and driven by women and men that are open to the world and committed to the quality and the sustainability of public services”.

Through short-term exchanges, the staff of public water operators will have the opportunity of acquiring new knowledge and growing their professional network while, at the same time, bringing back to their utility the competences acquired. It is planned that, in the future, the initiative will be extended to young graduates and researchers willing to acquire a first professional experience and pursue research in areas of interest to public water operators. These exchanges will contribute to developing APE as a “learning network” aimed at better addressing water-related challenges.

The kick-off meeting held on the 29th May in Paris was the occasion for members to share their priority projects and start exchanging on potential topics for cooperation. The members’ initiatives presented went from water quality to resilience to climate change and energy savings, and were witness to the wealth of knowledge and know-how present within the network. In addition, a first pilot exchange was launched between the Italian Gruppo CAP and the French Eau de Paris.