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NEWSLETTER | Summer 2019

In our Summer 2019 newsletter we talk about sludge management and public operators' perspectives on the conditions necessary to moves towards more circularity. We also present the public water sector's commitments and actions for transparent and accountable services, as well as for sustainable energy. And whilst we continue working together, as is showcased with our latest meetings in Edinburgh, we also look forward to exchanging with many other stakeholders during our next public event, in October. 

Save the date: 17 October – Join us in celebrating Aqua Publica Europea’s tenth anniversary

On 17 October, Aqua Publica Europea will organise an event on the future of water services in Brussels in the framework of this year’s celebration of our tenth anniversary. Stay tuned for more information and agenda and if you have any question, please write to us at

Aqua Publica members gather in Scotland to continue fostering excellence in public water services through collaboration

From 26 to 28 June, the members of Aqua Publica Europea met in Edinburgh for a series of technical meetings hosted by our members from the Scottish Government with a view to continue working together on different topics for efficient and future-workshoplooking public water management. In addition to a workshop on sludge management (read more below) that also sets the launch of a new Working Group on Sludge and the Circular Economy, all the APE Working Groups were convened: Tariffing & Performance discussed the economics of EU water policy, Communication exchanged on the promotion of tap water and careers in the water sector, Innovation focused on information sharing relating to water safety plans and online water quality measurements, and a special joint meeting engaged on how to communicate performance.
Members had great exchanges on their best practices and challenges and their views for the future.


How to move towards sustainable sludge management? Public water operators call for more collective commitment to circularity

The lively discussion during the Thematic Session ‘Towards a Sustainable Approach to Sludge Management: legal frameworks and technological solutions in Edinburgh showcased the diversity ofReport cover national and local situations relating to sludge management and the issues faced by water operators.

The meeting, which relied also on contributions of external experts from the European Environment Agency and the Polytechnic University of Milan, aimed to address the growing concerns regarding the management of the sludge resulting from the process of waste water or drinking water treatment, especially in the context of a global move towards circularity. Whilst the opportunities exist to benefit from the materials, nutrients and energy that can be recovered from sludge, the discussions, from expert and technical levels, highlighted emerging challenges, including complex legal frameworks, closing or unstable market outlets for bioresources and negative perceptions.

The morning closed with the conclusion that there is a collective responsibility in ensuring a sustainable future and operators face similar issues when dealing with sludge: whilst innovation and technology are key instruments in this process, a coherent set of enabling conditions – on regulation, market and public acceptance - is necessary to allow to take the full advantage of sludge and its benefits.  Read more in our comprehensive report. 

Read our full report

Transparent and participative public water services

Because water is essential to life and to our societies and directly affects both human health and the environment, transparency and accountability in water management are particularly important and, further, respond to citizens’ and stakeholders' growing expectations. As transparency and participation are two of Aqua Publica Europea’s main priorities, we asked members about their own initiatives on the topic and prepared an overview. Instruments may vary but public water operators, responding to public authorities and elected officials, are committed to making information available, which contributes to fostering trust in water and its management, and to providing a framework through which stakeholders, including civil society, can participate in decision-making, resulting in stronger governance. 


Grassroots campaigns successfully leads to increased water availability in restaurants

When Brussels resident Sarah Ehrlich posted one evening on Facebook that she wanted to see Belgian restaurants proposing free tap water, as is done in other countries, she was not expecting the resounding support, which turned into a social media campaign that led to many restaurants and cafés adopting the practice – they are mapped out, too. Local public water operators have enthusiastically welcomed this initiative: indeed, tap water in Belgium is of excellent quality. Throughout the EU as well, actually. German independent testing association recently analysed mineral and tap water and concluded that "turning on the tap and drinking is not only inexpensive and ecological but also safe". 

Aqua Publica Europea members’ commitments to sustainable energy

The interlinkages between water and energy are addressed in a diversity of innovative and responsible ways by public water operators to foster more sustainability and circularity. 

  • SWDE (Belgium) invests in energy savings with the support of the Walloon region (here)
  • HAMBURG WASSER (Germany) developed a project to recover energy from wastewater in residential district (here)
  • Vivaqua (Belgium) focuses on recovering thermal energy from sewage to heat public buildings (here)
  • Scottish Water (UK) achieved key milestone: the amount of renewable energy it generates and facilitates is more than double its electricity consumption (here)
  • Eau de Paris (France) produces renewable energy with about 12 000 m2 of solar panels (here)
  • MM (Italy) raised awareness on its use of renewable energy during Milan’s first sustainable energy week (here)
  • Emasesa (Spain) consumes 100% green energy (here)