Manuel Suárez: ‘In the last few years, there has been a spectacular improvement in water quality'

23 marzo 2017

Interview with the president of the Spanish Association for the Defence of Water Quality (ADECAGUA). Founded in 1967, ADECAGUA has more than 100 members and is the leading Spanish association involved in the management of water quality. On 2-6 October, ADECAGUA will be taking part in the first edition of the World Chemical Summit, held at the same time as Expoquimia, Eurosurfas and Equiplast, making Barcelona the global capital of applied chemistry.

Interview with the president of the Spanish Association for the Defence of Water Quality (ADECAGUA).

Founded in 1967, ADECAGUA has more than 100 members and is the leading Spanish association involved in the management of water quality. On 2-6 October, ADECAGUA will be taking part in the first edition of the World Chemical Summit, held at the same time as Expoquimia, Eurosurfas and Equiplast, making Barcelona the global capital of applied chemistry.

ADECAGUA is a regular participant in Expoquimia. What are you expecting from the forthcoming edition and the new World Chemical Summit?


We're hoping to organise a technical seminar to bring together our own members and other experts from public administrations and industries to share our knowledge of water quality, the discharge of wastewater into receiving environments, environmental conservation, environmental demands on industry, the difficulties industry faces in complying with these demands, and many other issues.

ADECAGUA can bring added value to the World Chemical Summit by showcasing the situation of the water sector. Which factors do you intend to promote?


Water quality and environmental conservation are an unavoidable necessity for the industrial sector, so any discussions on this topic are likely to be of significant value to industry. At our seminars we always try to stimulate dialogue between the authorities responsible for the environment and the industrial sector, giving industrial leaders the chance to assess these new demands and ready themselves for the future.

ADECAGUA is an association that promotes the defence of water quality. How does it do this? What is the current condition of our water?


ADECAGUA has contributed to improving water quality by channelling the knowledge and experience of our parent association, the WATER ENVIRONMENT FEDERATION, a US association operating in numerous countries which at certain times in its history has boasted state-of-the-art technology. Our links with the EWA (European Water Association) connect us to European developments, keeping us abreast of the latest trends and technological advances in the water quality sector.
With regard to the state of health of our water, we have to recognise that in the last few years there has been a spectacular improvement in water quality as a result of the huge investments the country has made in wastewater treatment systems. Industry has immeasurably improved its relationship with the environment and has borne part of the costs, which is only right and proper.
The industrial sector has taken action on various levels: building its own treatment plants, bearing part of the cost of shared treatment systems with other sectors (domestic), and most notably modifying its production processes to make them more efficient and reduce water consumption and the amount of pollution generated.

In this respect, do you think that industry and society are sufficiently aware of the importance of water quality?


The country has equipped itself with sufficient legal instruments to ensure that every agent accepts its responsibility, as a result of demands from society. At the moment, the industrial sector is absolutely clear on the need to comply with the law, not only because of the risks of noncompliance but also from its own convictions. What is almost certainly of most concern to industry is the discrimination in the distribution of the environment cost rather than the actual costs it is expected to shoulder.
The general public has also evolved and now demands that the environment is protected more effectively. So here we have a dilemma between the desire for the optimum environment and the costs that this entails. In times of crisis, this is not an easy decision to make, when our leaders need to choose between allocating ever-diminishing funds to social welfare or the protection and improvement of the environment.

From ADECAGUA's point of view, what are the current challenges that the water sector needs to tackle?


The quality of our water needs to cope with a multitude of new products which, in very tiny amounts, reach the natural receiving environment and subsequently our potable water. These micro-pollutants demand new detection systems and constant vigilance over their effects on the environment and public health.
This process of innovation is an intrinsic part of economic development. Industries produce new products and need to contribute to their elimination, whether this is in their own production processes or when the resulting waste reaches our soils or sewage systems. This is the challenge facing us at the moment, but I have no doubt whatsoever that we will tackle it effectively, improving the environment and the conditions in which we live.

And finally, what do you hope to contribute with the seminar organised by ADECAGUA at the World Chemical Summit?


We would like all the professionals at the seminar get a better understanding of the topics discussed and for this knowledge to help the chemical industry improve its relationship with the environment and hence improve water quality.

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