Water demand management technologies: what are the challenges of tomorrow?

How to promote ENC/GDE processing technologies? What are the mechanisms for communication, dissemination and information? How do you inform people about the benefits and accessibility of technology? What kind of financial support is needed? So many issues were resolved within 4e and the last water table.

As part of the Nawamed project “Natural Solutions for Domestic Water Reuse in the Mediterranean Countries”, funded by the ENI CBC Med programme, the Certe Aquatic Research and Technology Center organized last Friday 4e National Assembly of Stakeholders “4e Groundwater level” on the topic: “Problems of promoting water demand management technologies/unconventional water (GDE/ENC)”.

The Nawamed project with a total budget of 3.2 million euros and a duration of 36 months (from 09/10/2019 to 09/09/2022) aims to change the way water resources are managed through innovative, sustainable and cost-effective treatment. decentralized technologies to replace the use of drinking water with the reuse of good quality ENC.

What obstacles surpass…

In this context, Latifa Busselmi, Professor of Certe and Nawamed project coordinator, pointed out that there are so many obstacles in the way of implementing ENC technologies, namely: health and environment (lack of regular monitoring of water quality, lack of new standards and guidelines for pollutants, etc.). d.), economic and financial (costs of implementation, water quality monitoring, treatment, infrastructure, lack of assessment, etc.), social and cultural (ethical and psychological barriers associated with lack of trust in the reliability of treatment and fear of disease, preference for reliable and inexpensive traditional water, lack of awareness, etc.), methods and infrastructure (lack of cost-effective and reliable treatment, lack of specialized skills, limited technical expertise, lack of appropriate technology transfer, etc.), institutional and managerial (lack of relevant laws and regulations, lack of specific standards for other uses, lack of coordination between different decision-making and management actors, lack of legal framework for domestic wastewater and limited rainwater, etc.)

“Overcoming these obstacles is a complex and ambitious project… We will not be able to get there in one day, but if we do not start work now, we will never achieve it. And, for starters, we pointed out a very important element — a financial instrument, subsidies, promotion…,” she clarified.

To overcome and overcome this problem, which is both difficult and repetitive, M.to me Busselmi suggested developing support mechanisms such as renewable energy (invoice level), providing subsidies to municipalities to increase the cost of ENC, cost/benefit analysis to support the implementation of these innovative solutions, low operating costs in terms of electricity and maintenance, quiet work and less smells, as well as a quick return on investment, to promote the involvement of the private sector, in line with a clear legal and institutional framework and transparency, to win investor confidence and encourage investment in ENC technology. , subsidies to users for work on stream separation and / or recycling, etc.

“To promote ENC technologies, you need a certain balance between support and promotion. To do this, it is necessary to promote research and innovation in this field, strengthen the capacity of the municipality to introduce new concepts and technologies related to water management within a green and sustainable city, take ENC into account in development plans and facilitate their accessibility in cities, develop integrated systems with added value…”, she specified.

Awareness, such an effective weapon

As always, any change violates the comfortable status quo and the interests that benefit from it. And to bring about this change, another major challenge is needed; how to inform people about the benefits and availability of technology?

“Even if the answer seems simple to someone, on earth the path will not be obvious. This includes education, incentives and marketing. To do this, it was proposed to conduct a social survey aimed at assessing the acceptability of potential users for the reuse of treated wastewater / rainwater, establish selection criteria (indicator tools to help in the correct choice of ENC technology), take into account the social component and user acceptance when developing a technical solution, conduct cost / benefit analysis of technical solutions and inform about the cost of “inaction”, change the terminology of wastewater, launch a call for specialists to overcome cultural and religious barriers, build trust between users and technology providers, multiply pilot cases and communicate around…”, explained she is.

Safe Technologies

Latifa Busselmi also mentioned the security aspect. Indeed, in order to cope with this task, it is necessary to guarantee and explain to people that technologies are safe. To do this, it is necessary to define the quality standards that must be met for each type of ENC reuse. (cleaning, purification, etc.), define a methodology for regular monitoring of the quality of ENC, allowing it to be used with full knowledge of the risks and quality control during distribution and storage, draw up a practical guide describing the measures and various actions to control the health risk that are necessary carried out at the user level and with ENC recycled materials… Other measures also include public education and promotion of good hygiene practices, ensuring complete separation of recycled ENK and drinking water, underground installation and controlled access to technical facilities…

But to achieve all the stated goals, it is necessary to ensure market integration and involve the private sector in providing access to ENC technologies. To do this, it is necessary to strengthen public-private partnerships and ensure the establishment of regulatory and monitoring bodies to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of technical solutions, promote the involvement of the private sector in accordance with a clear and transparent legislative and institutional framework. to win the trust of investors and encourage investment in ENC technologies, promote the use and wider application of innovative ENC technologies with economically attractive financial incentives (green start-ups, development support…), provide training for architects and landscape architects to play a key role and integrate ENC technical solutions to urban areas, promote collaboration between researchers and the private sector for the technical transfer of innovative technologies and sustainable management practices, mobilize professional associations, etc.

On another level, to provide financial support to all these participants, Mto me Busselmi mentioned a number of measures, including the mobilization of international and bilateral resources through innovation and increased investment (Horizon Europe, EIB Climate and Environment Bank, Directorate-General for PPPs), providing investment bonuses as a new promoter, SMEs/Regional Development Area green start-up, supporting viable projects in innovative and highly profitable activities (stimulating creativity and innovation in the field of water demand management technologies), providing bonuses for investment in innovative and technological development of ENC, guaranteeing material investments, special subsidies, etc.

Frame reinforcement legislative

Last but not least is the regulation of this issue. In this context, the expert advocates strengthening the legislative and administrative framework for the promotion of ENC technologies. “We dream of a decree like rainwater for gray water producers, an agency for the conservation and promotion of ENC (rainwater, gray watere) develop specifications to guarantee best practice in ENC processing, municipal ordinances to encourage citizens to use ENC, establish a scientific and technical committee to guide local decision makers in their decisions and strategic choices, improve governance by enhancing coordination among all stakeholders, submit ENC projects for environmental assessment and reuse projects to study environmental and social impacts, establish specific standards for use, control and monitoring systems to ensure safe use, a decree obliging large producers of gray water to be separated from black water at the evacuation level (at the level buildings), the decree obliges buildings (isolated ground) to refilter rainwater at the groundwater level, develop a clear legal and institutional framework for non-agricultural ENC applications…”, she clarified.