IDA International Water Reuse and Recycling Conference explores regulation frameworks and more

The 2018 International Desalination Association (IDA) International Water Reuse and Recycling Conference: Making Every Drop Count, opened on the 25th of June in Valencia, Spain.

180 delegates from 29 countries gathered to represent a collective recognition that water reuse and recycling policy and technologies are evermore critical to meeting growing global freshwater needs.

“The importance of this industry, and the importance of interactions that bring together public and private sector stakeholders to discuss policy and technology, are imperative. At IDA, we aim to create more interactions, networking and knowledge sharing opportunities to nurture global dialogue on water reuse and recycling,” said Shannon McCarthy, IDA Secretary General.

Mr. Miguel Angel Sanz, President of IDA, remarked in his welcome address during the opening ceremony. “IDA is committed to water supply sustainability, and we trust in water reuse as a complementary solution to desalination to address the problems of water scarcity.”

He also said that IDA selected Valencia as the location for their second international conference on water reuse and recycling because Spain is a leader in Europe and in the world, recycling on average over 13 per cent of the treated waste waters with some cities and regions recycling even more than 90 per cent.

Officials participating in the Opening Ceremony included HE Fatma Awale, Minister of Water of Mombasa, Kenya; Traci Minimide, COO of LA Sanitation; and Ms. Elena Cebrian Calvo, Counsellor of Agriculture, Environment, Climate Change and Rural Development from Generalitat Valenciana. Professor Emeritus Rafael Mujeriego of the Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain, delivered a Keynote Address, and in addition, Dr. Domingo Zarzo, President of AEDyR, the Spanish Desalination and Reuse Association and an affiliate of IDA, which collaborated on the presentation of the conference, took part in the Opening Ceremony.

Day One of the Technical Programme began with two lively panel discussions and a plenary session. Moderated by Mr. Carlos Cosín, IDA Officer and CEO of Almar Water Solutions, the first panel “The Big Debate: Water Reuse Regulations in Europe, USA and Asia” examined regulations that cover the various uses, requirements and advantages in using water reuse technology to meet growing water needs for agriculture, industry and urban uses, as well as aquifer recharge, to offset water needs.

“The regulatory frameworks have been critical in areas where reuse is today a reality, such as in the state of California (USA), Israel, Spain and Singapore. To chart prominent growth in new geographies, a clear framework to advance and develop the implementation of reuse is needed. We should extend current regulations to include new categories and uses to cover new applications. Irrigation is now extensively covered, but industrial and direct and indirect potable use need to become easier to implement. There are credible and transparent local regulation frameworks such as Title 22 in California that could be considered as a baseline that could help to develop reuse in new areas,” noted Mr. Cosín.

Panelists were Mrs. Conchita Marcuello, Adjoint to the Deputy Director for Water Planning and Sustainable Water Use – Water General Directorate Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment; Ms. Traci Minamide, COO, LA Sanitation, City of Los Angeles; Mr. Maurice Neo, Director, Water Reclamation (Network), Singapore Public Utilities Board; and Mr. Mehul V. Patel, Director of Water Production, Orange County Water District.

“The Water Regulations Reuse panel is an intriguing way to learn how issues and solutions to regulations regarding reuse are dealt with in different parts of the world.  It allows us to see our common concerns and solutions to potential obstacles that can come with reuse regulations,” Mr. Patel commented.

In the second panel, “Pricing Water Security and Enhancing Practical Financing Tools for Reclaimed Wastewater Reuse,” speakers discussed specific approaches to pricing water security through the diversification of water supplies and the tools they use to finance and develop water-reuse infrastructure projects to meet irrigation and urban needs, and other water requirements.

Moderators were Dr. Gonzalo Delacámara, Senior Research Fellow and Coordinator of Water Economics at IMDEA Water Research Foundation, and Dr. Eduardo Orteu, Head of Support Unit and Responsible for the International Affairs Service at the Spanish Water Directorate. Panelists were Mr. Zael G. Sanz Uriarte, Senior Water Supply and Sanitation Specialist, World Bank Group, Washington, DC; Mr. Xavier Leflaive, Water Team Leader, Environment Directorate, OECD; and Mr. Víctor Arroyo, Acting Director of Knowledge Management in Water at CAF.

Dr. Delacámara noted, “The discussion showed the relevance of a two-fold discussion. On one side is the creation of the necessary setup to guarantee financial resources for upfront capital investments for reclaimed water reuse, which also includes, in some countries, strengthening the wastewater treatment capacity. This requires striking the right balance between grants from the public sector and multilateral donors and new public-private partnerships, trying to avoid that public investment, albeit important, crowds out private inputs.

“On the other side, in order to ensure the operation (including maintenance and asset replacement) of those plants, it is critical to redesign incentives. This mainly calls for new pricing schemes towards long-term water security, emphasising on the diversification of water supply sources and enhanced resilience. It also calls for the acknowledgement of new revenue streams, such as those stemming from biosolids and biogas. Funding, financing and pricing need to align individual interests and collective goals, i.e., ensuring water security within a climate change adaptation context,” he added.

Concluding this portion of the programme was a Plenary Session on “Research and Market Trends: Thematic Shifts and Macro Level Drivers,” which explored the role of decentralised water and the impacts associated with rolling out the Internet of Things and the Digital Economy on the value chain and technology landscape.

Session moderator Tim David Chinn, SVP & Executive Consultant, Drinking Water Programme at AECOM, facilitated discussion among panel keynote speakers Mr. Jeff Mosher, Principal Technologist VP, Carollo Engineers, Inc.; Mr. Paul O’Callaghan, CEO, BlueTech Research; and Mrs. Julie Minton, Director of Strategic Initiatives, The Water Research Foundation.

The afternoon concluded with a session on “Water in the Circular Economy,” presented by iAgua, a leading communications platform for the water sector in Spain and Latin America and media partner of the conference. This session began with a dialogue between Félix Parra, General Director of Aqualia, and Alejandro Maceira, Director of iAgua, and included presentations by Gari Villa-Landa, Head of International Affairs of AEAS; Santiago Martínez, Managing Director of Concessions of Almar Water Solutions; Jorge Malfeito, R&D Director of Acciona Agua; José Ferrer, Head of Water Quality Investigation Group of IIAMA; and a Representative of Fira de Barcelona Iwater and the Circular Economy European Summit.

The programme also included a pre-conference training course on State of the Art in Water Reuse conducted by Mr. Antonio Casanas, Key Account Manager, Dow Water and Process Solutions, and Dr. Domingo Zarzo, AEDyR President, Research & Development Manager of Valoriza Agua. On June 27, IDA and AEDyR will offer conference delegates a special tour of Valencia’s reuse application sites and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Valencia Ancient Court of Water.

Conference sponsors are Almar Water Solutions (An Evening at the Palace); Veolia (Welcome Reception); Future Pipe Industries, Besix, Acciona, Aqualia and Suez (Silver); ROPV (Technical Session); Toray, Sacyr Water and Dow (Supportive); and PWT and Piedmont (Hospitality). iAgua, Water.Desalination+Reuse and Water & Wastewater International are media partners for the event.