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Proper management of water-cycle services is inextricably linked to reuse. This is mandatory to sustainably administer our available reserves. It is also mandatory to tackle challenges such as drought and water stress, which are forecasted to increase in upcoming years as a result of climate change, especially in countries like Spain, with zones where this resource tends to be scarce (Impacts and risks stemming from climate change in Spain. MITECO, 2021).
This circumstance jeopardises not only people and their access to potable water or food as a human right, but also important activities for our country’s economy like agriculture. The fact of the matter is that Spain could be one of the 33 countries with the greatest water stress in the world by 2040 (“Projected Water Stress Country Rankings”. World Resources Institute. 2015).
However, there are solutions. In this vein, re-greening our economy means reusing wastewater (water used municipally or industrially) and using rainwater or properly managing torrential downpour episodes (AEDyR). Innovation and technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the smart-city concept contribute great solutions to combat this trend (“The city supply and sanitation sector in Spain” by the IMDEA Agua Institute. Fundación Canal, 2017).
The circular economy applied to the water cycle also creates wealth and employment. In terms of this need, we are witnessing the growth of companies devoted to innovation in this field. They are specialised in reuse and can collaborate with municipal services in undertaking this sort of management, or in building the infrastructure that this challenge requires. This growth entails increased professional specialisation, and therefore a new employment niche.
In this regard, Spain is in the lead. It is Europe’s foremost power in water reuse. In 2006, it accounted for approximately one-third of the total reused volume in the EU (European Commission, 2015). In fact, the European Union itself has become heavily involved in this matter. In 2020, it published a new Regulation on water reuse (Federal Gazette. June 2020).
Public-private cooperation also comes into play, as well as raising citizen awareness to foment collaboration in conscious, responsible use of this resource that is necessary for life in both urban and rural settings, for people, plants, and animals, as well as for all the production sectors that participate in our country’s economy. Planning and replicating good practises is fundamental for us all to contend with this challenge together.
Planet Earth is green and blue. To keep it the way it is, we must sustainably manage our precious water resource, which guarantees health and development.