Session FT 1.02
Wastewater managegement to fight poverty
Seine Normandy Water Agency (AESN)
Comision Nacional del Agua
Sewerage owner for Parisian agglomeration (SIAAP)
World population has been multiplied by 7 within the two past centuries generating unprecedented human & industrial pressures on water resources and environment. Demographic growth concentrates mainly in urban areas of developing countries discharging in fragile coastal zones where about 50% of the world population lives.
Globally 15% of the world populations are connected to a waste water treatment facility and only 2% to modern waste water treatments. These uncontrolled discharges generate water and food diseases, loss of incomes, increased costs (health, treatment of the drinking water), massive fish killing and drop in tourism, and lead to a massive transfer of poverty downstream. The common view is that treating urban pollutions is too expensive, when the reality is that the global economy never dedicated more than 0.3% of global GDP to the whole sanitation sector.
Target 10 of Millennium Development Goals will not be reached if this present pattern is not changed.
The attempt of this session was to establish that urban waste water treatment delivers benefits for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Local water decision makers of 3 mega cities (Istanbul, Mexico, Paris) and 2 basin agencies (Sebou/Fez/Morocco) and Seine Normandy/Paris/France) made their best to assess the costs and benefits of the undertaken local actions as well as of the pending ones, both for the urban dwellers and for the downstream populations and ecosystems. Six experts from Brasil, Columbia, France, Mexico, Netherlands and Romania then enlighted forces and weaknesses of the presented cases and added examples from their own countries or experiences.
All local actors confirmed that treating urban pollution saves life and environment, delivers economic growth, creates jobs and reduces health & water supply costs. It benefits to health, economy as well as to ecosystems. They agreed that:
Basic sanitation only cares for domestic hygiene. It does not treat the major part of other pollutions such as grey waters, storm waters and industrial pollutions.The eradication of water borne diseases (currently 22.000 death/day out of which 50% are children) requires full treatment of urban pollutions.
The world community will not durably or equitably reach target 10 of MDG7 without paying a reinforced attention to the global challenge of untreated municipal discharges: a stronger urban pollution control directly conditions the sustainability of existing drinking water supplies.
Financial solidarity pays over the time: once that all water polluters & consumers pay equitable fees, full sanitation costs represent much less than previous health expenses related to pollution .
Those human and economic benefits are fast materializing as they immediately follow the restoration of water resources and ecosystems.
Multi stakeholders’ governance and public participation at basin level deliver considerable benefits in terms of sustainable and equitable development.
Solidarity at watershed level is easy to implement with appropriate public information campaigns once there is the political will. National and international solidarities for water and waste water can also be based on water bills of northern water users and polluters.
Only referring to “basic sanitation”, that does not require any urban pollution treatment, target 10 is not presently worded to secure that urban pollution will effectively be controlled. Therefore, the sanitation commitment of target 10 should be reworded to fit MDG7.
Developing new urban water supplies should systematically be associated with investing into comprehensive urban wastewater treatment thus preventing the pollution of downstream populations;
Reducing pollution at source and decentralized treatment should be privileged in all suitable cases.
Orientations for action
Noting the high expectations of the debate and the frustrating lack of dedicated time, AESN offered to organize a permanent networking along the same topic to deepen and enlarge the first references presented at this session. These network and workshops should be open to new institutions and partners, willing to present relevant case studies demonstrating their gained “benefits of urban waste water treatment solutions”, in longer workshops that could be held on a yearly basis .
In parallel proposed actions to be taken are:
To reword target 10 of MDG7 in order to enforce the treatment of urban pollution which conditions existing water supplies, economical and environmental sustainability, as well as poverty reduction.
To prepare international and national laws requiring full treatment of all urban pollutions
To increase national and international financial supports to the urban waste water sector. Overseas development assistance facilities and national programs specifically dedicated to financing urban waste water infrastructures and services should be developed.
To develop specific communication programs to improve the public perception of the benefits of treating urban pollutions.
Local Actions presented
The municipality of Istanbul case
Dursun Ali CODUR, Istanbul water & Wastewater Administration (ISKI), Turkey
Istanbul (12 millions inhabitants) has divided its urban pollution by 9 since 1994 in spite of the doubling of its population. Water resources have been saved by applying advanced treatment techniques and significant improvements in coastal water quality and odours made. 138km out of the 284km of Istanbul coast are now suitable for bathing according to the blue flag standards & criterias, yet 12 years ago all bathing areas were polluted and forbidden for swimming.
The city of Fez case
Ahmed BELKHEIRI, Sebou Hydraulic Basin Agency, Morocco
Fez (1.2 million inhabitants) classified as universal heritage by the UNESCO has become the morrocan economic development pole. The population was multiplied by 10 in a century and the total organic pollution is evacuated to the Sebou River. Since 1996, several actions have been undertaken among which the adoption of a waste water Master plan. The basin agency of the river Sebou has been created to operate actual IWRM in the watershed with all water stakeholders and notably promote and support waste water treatment and cost recovery through a polluter-pays mechanism. The building of a 1st treatment plant will start at the end of 2006 (total of 70 million$) and will reduce effluent discharge by 85% thus bringing a fast improvement of sanitary conditions, a rational water resources management and social & economic development: total estimated gain : 20 million$/year!
The Mexico city case
Dr. ESPINO, Comisión Nacional del Agua, México
Mexico city saw its population grow from 1 to 20 millions within the past 70 years and had to develop very large primary infrastructure of urban and domestic waste water drainage and treatment. The main achievements have been flood prevention and the agricultural development of 110.000has in this region as well as in the neighbouring valley of Tula, when only 15% of those urban waste waters gets a secondary treatment. This developed employment, brought food and deep rooted more than 200.000 Mexicans in their lands. The average value of the agricultural production is 21,000 $/ha/year and the extra represents 14.000$/ha per year.
The next challenge are to increase the capacity and level of treatment of those urban waste waters, to reduce the sanitary risk on agricultors’ health and to maintain the drainage system seriously threatened by severe ground collapses.
The Paris agglomeration case
Laurent DOYEN, Sewerage owner for Parisian agglomeration (SIAAP), France
Paris agglomeration (12 millions inhabitants) with the treatment of its waste waters has put an end to the epidemics (typhus, cholera) that killed up to 8% of the watershed population in the XIX century. In 1970 only 25% of the domestic waste waters were treated while all of them are being treated in 2006. The recovery of the quality of Seine River allowed the number of fish species permanently settled in Paris to grow from 3 to 29 over that period. The next challenge is to treat rainwaters and remove nitrogen.
The Seine Normandy Basin Agency (AESN) facility
Guy FRADIN, AESN, France
AESN developed in the last 40 years as a basin water facility using the polluter-pays mechanism to support investment and planning in the field of urban and industrial pollution control. By demonstrating the negative impacts of Paris pollution on the downstream populations and ecosystems it notably allowed relevant participatory decision making by the basin stakeholders. These voted the support of a major work program of the SIAAP (union of public utilities in charge of the waste waters of the Paris agglomeration). This on going program will considerably improve the treatment of storm waters, nitrogen and phosphorous pollutions, presently impacting up to Norwegian coasts.