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Gavà, first Spanish city to endorse the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities

  • Gavà, first Spanish city to endorse the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities

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The International Water Association is the network of water professionals striving for a world in which water is wisely, sustainably and equitably managed.

Gavà becomes the first city in Spain, and number thirty in the world, to take the first step to become a water-wise city. The signing of the Principles for Water-Wise Cities of the International Water Association (IWA) places Gavà as a benchmark for sustainability in the field of water.

The head of International Affairs of the Spanish Association of Water Supply and Sanitation (AEAS, for its acronym in Spanish), Gari Villa-Landa, has been testimony of the adhesion of Gavà to the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities. AEAS has participated in this act as a Governing Member of IWA.

During her speech, Gari Villa-Landa stressed that the IWA Principles for Water-Wise Cities are a framework to overcome the challenges facing the urban water sector. She congratulated the city of Gavà for joining this initiative of the IWA, which highlights the development and resilient design of cities, and whose fundamental objective is to encourage collaborative action, underpinned by a shared vision, so that local governments, urban professionals and the population in general, are actively involved to address and find solutions in urban water management.

“Water-wise cities are those that use water intelligently, sustainably, with a shared vision and a collaborative approach in which all agents are involved and committed”, explained Villa-Landa.

The Principles for Water-Wise Cities are structured in four growing levels of action, which are built on the basic principle of guaranteeing access to water and sanitation services for all citizens. They are: to ensure regenerative water services, a water-sensitive urban design, the participation of cities in the management of basins and the consolidation of a water-wise community, which requires the awareness and involvement of all stakeholders to take water-wise action.

These four levels of action are accompanied by five building blocks through which a city becomes “water-wise”. These consist of:

  • A shared and resilient urban vision, which must include water.
  • Good governance, which must be multisectoral, multilevel and multistakeholder
  • Development of the knowledge and capacities of the actors involved
  • Development and implementation of planning tools, such as asset management plans or guiding plans, among others, that serve as support for decision making.
  • And finally, development and implementation of implementation tools, with a special focus on financing tools.

The Principles for Water-Wise Cities were presented at the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition, in Brisbane, in October 2016, and since then they have been endorsed by more than 100 organisations and 29 cities, being Gavà the 30th and first Spanish city to do it.

For the Mayor of Gavà, Raquel Sánchez, the endorsement of the IWA principles “will allow us to project internationally as a city that manages water with excellent standards from the perspective of sustainability”.

This endorsement act takes place in the framework of a new collaboration agreement between the City Council of Gavà, Aigües de Barcelona and Cetaqua. Aigües de Barcelona is the water utility that manages different phases of the water cycle in 36 municipalities of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and has signed the Principles for Water-Wise Cities together with the City Council. ​​ According to its Managing Director, Ignacio Escudero, “finding such a powerful partner to walk together is a real pleasure, and an example of public-private collaboration that has been, and should continue to be, one of the growth engines of urban centers.”

Signing agreement/ Photo: City Council of Gavà

Cetaqua, the Water Technology Centre, is a model of public-private partnership created to guarantee the sustainability and efficiency of the water cycle, taking into account regional needs. It represents a pioneering collaborative model among the sectors of government, academia and industry and was cofounded by Aigües de Barcelona, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Polytechnic University of Barcelona (UPC).

The agreement between these three entities is an example of this collaborative approach. Its aim is to implement the circular territorial model, co-designed at a previous stage. It focuses on fostering water reuse for non-potable uses, the development of a collaborative energy model in the industrial sector and delivering solutions to transform industrial wastes into new resources. In order to benchmark circularity in this territory, a set of environmental and socioeconomic indicators are developed as well. In this context, the Principles for Water-Wise Cities provide the framework to guide both the City Council and Aigües de Barcelona in developing a shared vision for water wise planning and management at all levels of society.

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