Satisfaction at the closure of the new International Integrated Water Cycle Show, Iwater, whose first edition, held at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via Exhibition Centre from 15 to 17 November, has been rated highly by exhibitors and visitors alike. One of the key factors in its success was the combined focus on three fundamental dimensions for the water industry’s growth: Industry, innovation and technology, knowledge sharing to address the sustainable management of water resources.
It has also shown the benefits of co-holding Iwater with Smart City Expo World Congress, the European Utility Week and the Circular Economy European Summit, with a combined total of more than 32,000 visitors. Thanks to co-location of these events and the synergies between water management, smart cities, energy, and the circular economy, more than 16,000 professionals have visited Iwater over the 3 days of the event. Of these, 25% are from abroad (up to 63 countries), including Italy, Portugal, France, Colombia, Sweden, Israel, Belgium, United Kingdom, Andorra, Peru, Holland, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Iran.
Specifically, 11,500 professionals visited Iwater from one of the other events held simultaneously at the Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via Exhibition Centre, in addition to the 4,562 who had registered solely for the integrated water cycle show.
Ángel Simón, president of Iwater’s organising committee and deputy CEO of Suez in charge of Water Europe, highlighted: “Iwater has exceeded expectations as a meeting point between industry professionals, sharing knowledge and technological innovation to meet the challenges currently facing water resources.” And he added, “The simultaneous organisation of four events focused on sustainable development has multiplied the event’s synergies, internationality and pulling power.”
Industry, technology and R&D&I
On the supply side, Iwater has brought 127 exhibitors from 10 countries, including leading operators, engineering firms, construction companies and public authorities, as well as companies providing solutions for the extraction, treatment, distribution, transport, storage, sanitation, purification, reuse, irrigation, management and consumption of water for agricultural, industrial or domestic use.
The exhibition has been complemented with InnoHub and TechHub, where 118 proposals were presented, including innovative solutions, R&D&I projects, and technology applied to all the processes involved in the complete water cycle in order to ensure supply with sufficient quality and quantity for different uses within the framework of the new circular economy paradigm.
The show has highlighted an increased technification of water management and treatment, with the use of Industry 4.0 technologies and tools that provide real-time information about water consumption to both users and operators as key input for decision-making. One of the keynote events was the Iwater Awards ceremony. This edition’s winners were the European Watintech project for smart, decentralised management of water treatment infrastructures; the start-up company Opticits Ingeniería Urbana’s cloud software for optimising the efficiency, quality and resilience of urban services; and the world’s first wastewater pumping system with built-in intelligence, Flygt Concertor, manufactured by the company Xylem. Lastly, the Catalan NGO Proactiva Open Arms was awarded a Special Prize for the year’s most outstanding humanitarian initiative for its work in rescuing refugees crossing the Mediterranean.
Resilience, governance and financing
Another key activity has been the Iwater Forum which has brought 80 experts from Spain and abroad to lay the groundwork for sustainable water management, with a total of 33 sessions and 6 round tables. Some of the speakers have been the American scientist and founder of the Pacific Institute, in Oakland (California), Peter Gleick; the president of the Mediterranean Water Institute, Milagros Couchoud; the former Minister of Agriculture and university professor, Jaime Lamo de Espinosa; the CEO of OFWAT, the water services regulation authority for the United Kingdom and Wales, Cathryn Ross; the principal administrator of the OECD Environment Directorate, Xavier Leflaive; and the deputy director of the Latin American Development Bank (CAF), Gonzalo de Castro.
The different sessions featured talks about resilience, particularly in cities, to address the effects of climate change, such as desertification, drought or flooding; inclusive governance, to structure more efficient and integrative management models; and financing, to find investment alternatives to update and modernise our infrastructures. The need was also voiced to create a single, independent regulation authority in Spain to set rules, rates and standards, and to act as an interface in relations between operators and the Government. The reuse of water for human consumption was also presented as a promising alternative.
Iwater shared the Brokerage Event with the Smart City Expo World Congress. Organised by Acció, it hosted 1,800 bilateral meetings between 450 SMEs, technology centres, universities, organisations and city council representatives from more than 38 countries, with a view to reaching collaboration, business or technology transfer agreements.
The guided tours to various infrastructures in the Metropolitan Area were also very popular. These included the wastewater treatment plant (EDAR) in Prat de Llobregat, which has a water regeneration station (ERA) for recharging the water table; the control centre of the municipal water authority Barcelona Cicle del Agua, SA (BCASA), and the rainwater retention tank in the Joan Miró Park in Barcelona; the desalination plant in the Llobregat river basin, and the potable water treatment plant (ETAP) at Abrera.
More than 130 people took part in these tours.
Iwater has been sponsored by the water industry’s leading professional associations in Spain and has received decisive support from the international Water Association, IWA, which acknowledges the show as the industry’s landmark event.
After this year’s success, Iwater is already working on the next edition in 2018.