Fourth water table in Tunisia: how to promote non-traditional water supply technologies (rainwater, gray water)?

Tunis Tribune (water table) – The Center for Water Research and Technology CERTE (https://certe.rnrt.tn/) organized on Friday, May 27, 2022, in Tunisia “4th Groundwater level in Tunisia” within the framework of the NAWAMED project funded by the CBC Program (https://www.enicbcmed.eu/projects/navamed) of the European Union.
This “Water Table” brought together experts in the field of water management and reuse, as well as stakeholder representatives from local governments, public institutions, design bureaus, architectural firms and private companies; and this is to identify the challenges of advancing non-traditional water technologies.

Natural Solutions (NBS) for water purification are used in several Mediterranean countries such as Tunisia, Italy, Jordan, Malta and Lebanon (NAWAMED project partners). They allow the introduction of new methods of managing and treating urban water with innovative, sustainable and affordable treatment technologies that are in line with the goals of the NAWAMED project. This project, which began in September 2019, initiated the organization of a series of Water Table meetings with stakeholders from each country. The results of these national tables will be discussed and used during the tabulation of Mediterranean waters to propose a strategy based on the development of unconventional waters.

Ms. Latifa Busselmi, National Coordinator of the NAWAMED project, opened the workshop with a presentation summarizing the results of the three already organized water tables and the importance of teamwork carried out through the exchange of knowledge and experience, and the exchange continues. Then the goal of the fourth water table, which is to promote EN C value-enhancing technologies for real concretization.

She also stressed the need to continue working together; public and private sectors to promote ENC technologies. She said that “the rapid deployment, appropriate adaptation and effective application of these low-cost technologies will facilitate the integration of ENC and the provision of alternative sources of urban water supply.”

Mr. Ahmed Grabi, CEO of CERTE, stressed the importance of organizing regular campaigns through the media, institutions and at various levels to raise public awareness of the need to use these simple technologies, and reassure them that they are safe and do not pose a risk to their health. He added that these information campaigns need to be stepped up, especially among schoolchildren and civil society representatives. He even suggested creating short animated videos to let kids know about the importance of using these unconventional waters and their importance in the water cycle.

This workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to exchange different experiences and responsibilities related to these technologies, as well as their role in the development of unconventional water resources and in ways to manage water demand.
The experts discussed the most important decisions and possible incentives, including the development of support mechanisms and/or subsidies, similar to those in the renewable energy sector, through the adoption of a strategy for financing non-traditional water supply technologies. In addition, they stressed the importance of passing the legal acts and providing the administrative facilities necessary to restore the confidence of investors active in this area.
Stakeholders are unanimous on the role of government in establishing mechanisms to support ENC applications. They also reaffirmed the need for the private sector to contribute and invest in these technologies.

Despite the constraints faced by the government at the national and local levels in managing demand for water, imposed budget constraints, there is growing interest in public-private partnerships in the field of unconventional water resources development as a viable option.

Participants also stressed the importance of investing in innovative technologies to increase productivity, conserve and protect water resources, use unconventional water sources and improve water storage. Speakers recalled the need to develop strategies to find compatible solutions to the demands of the country’s water situation. Finally, they noted the need to develop specific standards to allow for the safe and controlled use of processed ENC for other urban purposes than conventional irrigation.
In conclusion, and in order to continue this discussion and this struggle together, the participants should form a CLUSTER around unconventional waters and support the organization of the annual national event “Tunisian Water Days” in the fashion of what is being done in several countries.