NEWSLETTER | Spring 2020
In our Spring 2020 newsletter, we talk about the new members, the members of Aqua Publica Europea response to the COVID-19 emergency, the water policy and the public water management.
| New members
Aqua Publica welcomes the Catalan Association of municipalities for public water management (AMAP)
In June, the Catalan Association of municipalities for public water management – AMAP - joined Aqua Publica Europea as a new associate member. AMAP was established in 2018 and gathers 39 Catalan municipalities and public water operators. The association aims to ensure that water supply and sanitation services are guaranteed equally to all citizens, and that water services are recognised as an essential and common good, which should serve public interests rather than corporate ones.
| COVID-19 Response
Aqua Publica Members working together on the response to Covid-19 crisis
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the members of Aqua Publica Europea have worked together to share experiences and approaches on how to ensure the continuity of essential water and sanitation services. As a result of this collaborative exercise, Aqua Publica Europea has:
- Released a new publication “Managing the Unexpected European Public Water Utilities Facing the Coronavirus Emergency” on the strategies developed by European public utilities to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.
- Co-hosted together with the Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) a webinar on "Emergency response, business continuity and resilience of utilities during the Covid-19 emergency". The webinar gathered over 150 representatives of water utilities from 45 countries.
- Launched a video to express gratitude to the employees of public water operators who, thanks to their commitment during the difficult times of the pandemic, have ensured the continuity of water services’ provision.
Public water operators as actors of public health: efforts in tracing SARS-CoV-2 in waste water
Members of Aqua Publica Europea are taking part in research efforts throughout Europe to detect and trace SARS-CoV-2 in waste water, as a potential tool for an early warning system and public health decision-making.
- EMASESA (Seville, Spain) is defining processes and network sectorisation to localise information and defining an action protocol as part of waste water safety planning.
- Eau de Paris (Paris, France) participated in a quantitative research conducted through the lockdown period that found a parallel between the quantity of virus RNA in waste water and the evolution of clinical cases.
- PROMEDIO (Badajoz, Spain) is adapting tools designed for larger cities to its own on-the-ground reality: smaller municipalities, rural areas, disperse populations.
- BCASA (Barcelona, Spain), is participating in EU-funded research projects that are incorporating activities related to COVID-19
- Many Italian operators are involved with the National Health Institute’s nationwide project
- Scottish Water, Budapest WaterWorks, Irish Water, Aguas de Cádiz, HAMBURG WASSER, and others collect and provide samples to support wider research
| Water policy
As the Commission reviews its water legislation, Aqua Publica Europea’s members provide a concrete view into policy implementation
With high momentum for EU water policy, Aqua Publica members are contributing to ongoing discussions with their direct on-the-ground experiences. Last March, in a meeting chaired by APE’s Vice-President, Mr. Paolo Romano (SMAT, Turin, Italy), operators met with the European Commission’s Deputy Head of Unit for Water Industry, Mr. Michel Sponar, and key water stakeholders to have an in-depth look into the interaction between the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD). The combined implementation of these two fundamental pieces of water legislation presents challenges that need to be addressed to realise a conducive water policy framework. With the Commission’s decision to maintain the WFD in its current state, it is indispensable that the ongoing work on waste water fully considers legislation complementarity and articulation. In this effort, we call for the EU to take into account the insights based on the experiences of the operators that work to implement these Directives every day; that includes consistency in wording and interpretation, definition of adequate treatment level requirements in light of emerging challenges and local conditions, methodologies and criteria to assess alternatives for waste water treatment systems in a context of high investment needs and a changing climate, all the whilst preserving efficient environmental protection and affordability.
| Public management
The role of public water services in a fair, sustainable and resilient European recovery
As we emerge from the COVID-19 Europe-wide crisis, the importance of essential services for our society is now evident to all: they reliably keep our societies running in the hardest and most uncertain of times. Public water services will also be key actors in the recovery phase, by investing in development, focusing on social fairness, providing local jobs, and contributing to a green (and blue) transition – the European Commission recognised the participation of water and waste water management for sustainable growth in its assessment of recovery needs, as part of the proposed Recovery Strategy, pointing out investment gaps in the sector. In our latest paper, we emphasise the important role of public utilities going forward.
By the way, what does it mean to be a public water operator?
On 23 June, the International Public Services Day, we published a brief Q&A outlining the key characteristics of public water management.
New Transitional Institute book released on public services
The Transnational Institute (TNI) published "The Future is Public: Towards Democratic Ownership of Public Services." The book collets successful examples of republicisation across the world in diverse sectors like health, water, energy, or waste management. Célia Blauel, President of Eau de Paris and of Aqua Publica Europea and Milo Fiasconaro, Executive Director of Aqua Publica Europea are among the contributors.