From 13 to 15 August, Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) hosts in Medellin, Colombia, the workshop “Circular Economy for Water and Sanitation Operators in the Latin America and the Caribbean region”. This workshop will be a space to share knowledge and successful experiences on water and water companies move towards sustainable management of water resources.
The main theme, circular economy, raises the maximization of available resources so that they remain most of the time in the productive cycle, minimizing the generation of waste, revaluing them and taking advantage of them in a sustainable way.
This meeting will have representatives of government entities and other partners such as Euroclima+ from the European Union, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Commission for the Regulation of Drinking Water and Basic Sanitation (CRA), Andesco, Acodal, Corantioquia, Cornare, Corpourabá, Government of Antioquia, Municipality of Medellin and the Metropolitan Area of Aburrá.
During the three days’ workshop, participants will address issues such as the control of losses in the aqueduct, energy efficiency and energy generation from unconventional sources, biosolids management and water reuse. In addition, they will be able to know Aguas Claras, the new EPM wastewater treatment plant in the Aburrá Valley, which is considered an example of applied circular economy, by generating energy from biogas and producing biosolids based on the management of the organic matter that enters the plant.
Aligning the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Aligned with the SDGs target on achieving universal access to sanitation and to reduce the wastewater treatment gap by half by 2030, this workshop will allow operators to advance in the implementation of technologies for the reuse of these types of water, as well as in the extraction of energy, nutrients and by-products with added value.
Jointly organized by the Network of Sister Enterprises of Latin America and the Caribbean (WOP-LAC) within the framework of the Latin American Association of Water and Sanitation Operators (ALOAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Global Water Operators Partnerships’ Alliance (GWOPA)/UN-Habitat and EPM, the workshop will address challenges related to a more efficient use of available resources in the productive cycle of water supply and wastewater management.
Circular economy is not a new concept. Since the 1970s, this approach has been proposing the challenge of generating zero waste in production processes. The circular economy abandons the “take, produce and discard” model, typical of an era in which the world considered resources to be unlimited and easy to achieve, and aims to ensure that products, components and resources maintain their usefulness and value permanently.
From this conception, the application of the circular economy in the water and sanitation sector poses, among others, the challenge of gradually converting the current wastewater treatment plants into resource recovery facilities.
Coordinated by the company Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos S.A. (AySA), within the framework of the Latin American Association of Water Operators, WOP-LAC is the regional platform for Latin America that integrates the global alliance of the GWOPA, a United Nations initiative that aims encourage the exchange of successful experiences between water and sanitation operators.
The WOP-LAC workshops, together with the twinning between operators (WOPs), constitute the main lines of action of the platform. These meetings, which are usually attended by representatives of about 20 to 25 operators of various characteristics (large and medium-sized companies, community water boards, cooperatives), from different countries of the region, give rise to the presentation of successful experiences and the knowledge expansion Operators who have had achievements in relation to the theme of the workshop can share them, and those who need to incorporate good practices in the field have the opportunity to see what they do and how their peers are working.