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NEWSLETTER | Summer 2021

In our Summer 2021 newsletter, you will find the international conference A blue new deal report, public water operators peer-to-peer exchanges, webinars series wrap-up video and an interview with UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.


| #BlueNewDeal

International Conference: A Blue New Deal

On 20 May 2021, Aqua Publica Europea and Águas de Gaia, the public water operator of the city of Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal), co-organised the international conference "A Blue New Deal: water's role in a sustainable and fair future" to start a conversation on how an effective protection of water resources can contribute to build a green and fair recovery. In the framework of the EU Green Week, and with the support of the Portuguese of the Council of the EU, A Blue New Deal brought together distinguished speakers to discuss how institutions and stakeholders can collaborate to ensure a healthy environment and healthy water resources, as a condition for a sustainable and equitable development. Guests were invited to attend both physically at the water reservoir General Torres and virtually in partnership with Portuguese media ECO News.

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| Peer-to-peer exchange

Experts from Aqua Publica members exchange on energy efficiency and phosphorus recovery

Through its Water Erasmus initiative, Aqua Public Europea promotes peer support among its members by facilitating staff exchanges and experts’ dialogue. In this context, two experts’ exchanges have been organised in the past month:

  • Experts from HAMBURG WASSER (Germany), Scottish Water (UK), Budapest Waterworks (Hungary) and Acquedetto Pugliese (Italy) participated in an online workshop to exchange and share best practices on the critical topic of energy efficiency and energy production in wastewater treatment operations. Read more
  • An expert mission on phosphorus recovery from wastewater treatment took place with experts from HAMBURG WASSER (Germany) and Acquedetto Pugliese (Italy) – members of Aqua Publica - and with the contribution of Flemish Environmental Agency and Aquafin (Belgium). This mission was organised in the context of, and received support from TAIEX-EIR Peer 2 Peer: a European Commission’s programme to support Member State’s authorities implementing environmental policy and legislation. Read more

Webinar series on EU funding opportunities for the water sector

In this first half of the year, Aqua Publica Europea organised three webinars to explore the opportunities for the water sector under different EU funding programmes: Horizon EuropeInvest EU and Interreg Programmes. The webinars drew on the contribution of over 10 European institutions’ representatives, as well as from the experience of Aqua Publica’s members that participated in these programmes. The three sessions gathered over 100 participants.

Wastewater treatment in small agglomerations: challenges and solutions

On 17 June, PROMEDIO – the water operator of the province of Badajoz (Spain) presented the results of a research project on wastewater pollution in small agglomerations and its implication for the disposal of sewage sludge in agriculture, on the occasion of the closing the congress of the IDIaqua Interreg project. The results of this project are relevant in the framework of the ongoing revision of the UWWTD and will feed the contribution of Aqua Publica to this revision process.

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| Beyond Europe

Interview with UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

Prof Pedro Arrojo was appointed in October 2020 as the new UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. In an interview with Aqua Publica, Prof Arrojo presents the priorities for his 6-years mandate, emphasising the strong relationship between the environmental protection of water resources and the realisation of the human right to water. The interview is available online in five different episodes.

| Research and innovation

SMART.MET consortium concludes the installation of 1500 innovative smart water meters in five European sites

Aqua Publica and seven of its members have been involved in the EU-funded research project SMART.MET for the development of innovative solutions for smart metering. The project is now reaching its final stage and the seven water utilities have concluded the installation of 300 innovative prototypes in five different testing sites (1500 in total), which will now be pilot-tested until the end of September 2021.

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| Report

All too often taxpayers – instead of polluters – bear the cost of pollution, the European Court of Auditors finds

The ‘polluter pays principle’ – enshrined in the Water Framework Directive and other EU’s environmental policies - requires that polluters should bear the costs of their environmental damage, as a condition to ensure economic efficiency and social equity.

In a recent report, the European Court of Auditors finds that the principle remains largely unapplied. The consequence is that polluters often do not bear the cost of their pollution – including pollution of water resources -  and mitigation and cleaning-up intervention are paid by all citizens through the public budget. As argued by the author of the report, “to deliver the EU’s Green Deal ambitions efficiently and fairly, polluters need to pay for the environmental damage they cause”.

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| Good practices from public water operators

  • CILE and SPGE (Belgium) use biomonitoring techniques to protect local aquifers. These techniques rely on bees and earthworms to identify the risk of environmental pollution (here)
  • SDEA (Alsace-Moselle, France) plants 54,000 trees to combat mudslides in the Bas-Rhin. This initiative aims to slow down water run-off and to filter, then facilitate the infiltration of water into the soil (here)
  • Gruppo CAP (Milan, Italy) participates in a new pilot project to mitigate floods and flooding, thus reducing hydrogeological risks, in the framework of the LIFE EU-funded project “Metro Adapt” (here)
  • SWDE (Wallonie, Belgium) contributes to the installation of public mobile showers in Charleroi to guarantee access to sanitation to vulnerable people (here)


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