Water is vital for human, industrial, and economic development.
Water is at the very core of Sustainable Development Policies implemented by governments and private companies. Water resources will come under increasing pressure due to the impact of global population growth and climate change, which has now been proven.
Sustainable water management policies must be implemented at each relevant regional level by leveraging several drivers. The first aspect involves controlling water demand through changing behaviors and industrial processes. The second aspect includes securing the supply of fresh water, thanks to technologies like Géofiltration® . The final aspect consists in developing treatment processes that enable our customers to choose between using ground or surface water resources and alternative offers, through re-using wastewater, using rainwater, or desalinating sea water.
The progress made in controlling water demand between 2012 and 2013 by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT was in keeping with the targets set out in its 2012-2016 Roadmap.
Leak reduction in public supply networks managed by the Group already enabled to save an amount of water equivalent to the annual consumption of 250,000 European residents. The increasing supply of “smart” meters to customers, including local authorities that manage their service directly (see Best practices, p. 19), also contributed to these results. In fact, the new services connected to remote metering help improve water demand management; the impact on consumers’ behavior is currently under assessment in a dedicated working group including external stakeholders.
Where alternative offers are concerned, the Group increased its production capacity for re-using wastewater by around 80 million cubic meters between 2012 and 2013, when production reached over 800 million cubic meters. This increase was achieved through building or extending facilities intended to supply water for agricultural irrigation in Chile, Morocco, India, and Qatar. Since 40% of the world’s population lives less than 100 km from the sea, the desalination of sea water and brackish water is a solution for the future. Due to the ongoing optimization of the reverse osmosis filtration process developed by the Group, production costs have been cut by half over the past 10 years. At the end of 2013, the 255 desalination plants built by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT throughout the world were supplying 10 million inhabitants with safe drinking water.
The largest of these plants is the new facility that was commissioned near Melbourne in 2013 which is capable of meeting one-third of the urban community’s water requirements via a production capacity of 150 million cubic meters per year.
“Smart” technologies continued to improve the quality of service provided in the context of managing the total water cycle in 2013. The Group launched several new “smart grid” projects to add sensors, data transmission and assistance tools to water and sanitation networks. This smart management of water flow provides real-time information on drinking water networks’ yields, flow, pressure, and even on their chlorine level. In the case of sanitation, these technologies make managing the risk of flooding easier and limit discharges into the natural environment.
The new wastewater treatment plant in Mediouna, which is located in the Casablanca suburbs, is a genuine technological and environmental feat. It is also the first plant in Morocco and in North Africa to use the ultra-filtration membrane process patented by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT. This technology offers a higher filtration quality than that of conventional membranes. As a result, the treated wastewater can be re-used for agricultural irrigation. Lydec, the Group’s Moroccan subsidiary, has also set up a system to deodorize the plant.
Therefore, the new plant will improve residents’ living conditions, protect the Hassar Oued from wastewater discharges, and save water resources. Its size has been designed for 40,000 inhabitants and can be extended to 80,000, with a treatment capacity of 3,800 m³ per day. The plant was inaugurated by His Majesty Mohammed VI on April 3, 2013, in the presence of the French president François Hollande.
The City of Mulhouse’s Water Department will roll out the remote meters provided by Ondeo Systems, a subsidiary of Lyonnaise des Eaux, to its 16,000 subscribers between now and the end of 2015. This is the largest contract awarded to the Group by a district management authority, and it marks the installment of more than 1 million meters in Europe. Remote meters offer many benefits to users. The transmission of data from the meter to the Network Manager enables any unusual consumption to be identified so that users can be warned of any suspected leaks in their homes. Their bill is based on actual rather than estimated consumption. Lastly, the meter can be read automatically and remotely, eliminating the need to visit the users’ homes. For the city, remote metering is a “smart” way of monitoring the yield of the drinking water network in real-time, which includes a significant potential for savings and for protecting water resources.
The city of Melbourne experienced severe water stress in the 2000s due to a doubling of its population to 4 million in 30 years and a succession of droughts that left the reservoirs of the State of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, filled to just a quarter of their capacity. In 2007, this Australian state launched the Melbourne Water Plan, which eventually led to the choice of sea water desalination as a source of drinking water production. The Melbourne plant (the second desalination plant built by the Group in Australia following Perth in 2006), whose construction from 2009 mobilized nearly 25,000 people over three years, now covers one-third of the city’s water needs with a production of 450,000 m 3 /d. The plant’s environmental footprint was carefully studied, resulting in the following: a reduced lot size; green roofs with 100,000 native plant species; electric power coming partly from the state’s wind farms; full carbon offset by the purchase of certificates on the local market; and continuous analysis of the impact of discharges on marine salinity, in accordance with national regulations on biodiversity protection.
Aqualogy is the unique brand that covers the entire range of the Agbar Group’s integrated solutions and technologies for managing the total water cycle. Through its Environment, Solutions, and Infrastructure Divisions, Aqualogy is aimed at municipal customers as well as those in industry (petrochemicals, food processing, automotive, recreation and tourism, etc.), with offerings in engineering, design, construction, operation, and maintenance, as well as technology. Through its Aqualogy Knowledge Division, which specializes in knowledge management, Aqualogy also supports the Agbar Group’s entire R&D and technological innovation operations.