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NEWSLETTER |Autumn 2020

In our Autumn 2020 newsletter, we talk about the new appointed Aqua Publica Europea President, our new members, the last news on public water operators innovation projects and it is included a section to different news on public management.

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Bernard Van Nuffel appointed new President of Aqua Publica Europea

On Monday 16 November, the Board of Directors of Aqua Publica appointed Mr Bernard Van Nuffel, President of VIVAQUA (Brussels’ water operator), as the new Chairman of the Association. Mr Van Nuffel succeeds Ms Célia Blauel who, after serving 7 years as the President of Eau de Paris, (Paris’ water operator), has taken on new responsibilities in Paris’ municipal council.


| New members

Aqua Publica welcomes Como Acqua as new member

In September, Como Acqua – the water operator of the city and province of Como in the north-west of Italy - joined Aqua Publica Europea (APE) as a new member. The public water operator was established in April 2014, when the 49 Municipalities of Como’s province decided to merge their water services and create a unique utility for the entire area. Today, the operator provides water services and sanitation services to 516.000 people.

| Public Water Operators - Innovation

Public water utilities move forward with digital change

On the occasion of the online meeting of APE Working Group Innovation on 24 November, Diego Macchiella from VIVERAQUA (Venetian Region operator, Italy) presented the latest progress of the Horizon 2020-funded project SMART.MET, which aims to develop innovative smart-metering solutions based on open standards and interoperability between different device systems. The project, which brings together seven public water utilities (VIVERAQUA from Italy, SDEA and Eau de Paris from France, CILE and VIVAQUA from Belgium, PROMEDIO from Spain and Budapest Waterworks from Hungary), is now entering the final phase involving the testing of the innovative prototypes. If successful, the new solutions are expected to increase efficiency and reduce costs for both utilities and users, but also to create new market opportunities thanks to the non-proprietary nature of the new technology.

The meeting was also the time to discuss more broadly the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation in water operations. Armando Quazzo (SMAT, Italy), Marc Ruelle (SWDE, Belgium), Juan Manuel Ortega (Aguas del Huesna, Spain) presented the approach to big data management in their companies and discussed with other participants the complex way to digitalisation. They emphasised how this is not just a matter of new technologies but, more fundamentally, of a combination of cultural and organisational change that allows transforming data in a valuable asset of water utilities.

| Public Management

World Toilet Day 2020: universal access to water and sanitation more urgent than ever


On the occasion of the “World Toilet Day’, on 19th November, the European public water operators call on governments and institutions to take all necessary actions to ensure that everyone has access to essential water and hygiene services in this challenging times. The members of Aqua Publica further emphasise that, beyond ensuring the continued provision of essential water and sanitation services, the European public water operators are also playing a crucial role in conducting collaborative research efforts to detect and track the circulation of Sars-Cov-2 in waste water for surveillance purposes and as a tool for public health decisions.
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Aqua Publica Europea welcomes UN report on human rights & the privatisation of water and sanitation services

 In October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller, presented his last report on 'Human rights and the privatisation of water and sanitation services' to the United Nations General Assembly. Aqua Publica Europea welcomes the report, which provides a thorough analysis as well as a set of recommendations to limit the negative implications that the privatisation of water service may entail for the realisation of the right to water.

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UN Special Rapporteurs point out the catastrophic impact of privatising vital services

 In an open-editorial published in major international newspapers, several UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights exposed the catastrophic impact of privatising vital services. They write:

“By continuing to opt for contracting out public goods and services, governments are paying lip service to their human rights obligations. Rights holders are transformed into the clients of private companies dedicated 

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New book released on the essential role of public water during the COVID-19

Public Water and COVID-19: Dark Clouds and Silver Linings’ provides an overview of public water operators' response to Covid-19 and the impact that the pandemic has had on the public water sector. Released this month, the book has been jointly published by the Municipal Services Project (Kingston), Transnational Institute (Amsterdam) and Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) (Buenos Aires).

The book explores why water matters during the pandemic and presents the latest research on the impact of Covid-19 on the public water sector. The ‘Public Water and COVID-19: Dark Clouds and Silver Linings’ collects case studies from public water operators’ based in more than 20 countries. Aqua Publica Europea, as well as Aqua Publica’s members Eau de Paris (Paris, France) and HAMBURG WASSER (Hamburg, Germany), are among the contributors.

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