The participants found the meeting “really interesting and comprehensive” and learned about the systems used for water management in the region of Madrid
The output of the river Manzanares is insufficient to provide water to a large population, which makes Madrid the only European capital without a major river or lake nearby. To remedy this and boost the city’s growth, Canal de Isabel II was built in the 19th century. This canal is 76 km long and takes water from the river Lozoya to the capital.
Now, over a century and a half later, Canal de Isabel II is responsible for the treatment and supply of water to the entire Madrid region. Guided by the area coordinator at the Control Centre, Elías Manrique, the Leaders learned about the workings of an institution that, despite its old age, has been able to adapt new technologies to its infrastructure.
Elías Manrique outlined all the areas of water management in Madrid, from billing, which is organised so that it is compliant with European Union directives on the responsible, efficient use of water, to the treatments used to prepare water for human consumption. “We are lucky with the raw material: the water quality is good and we do not need to spend a lot on getting it ready for consumption,” he said.
The Leaders were surprised by the figures indicating that, despite the reduction in rainfall since the 80s and the increase in population, the institution has managed to contain the demand for water thanks to loss reduction plans (by renewing piping and better managing pressure) and highly effective public awareness campaigns.
They were also impressed by the fact that Canal treats almost 100% of used water for new uses such as irrigation, and generates energy with some of the waste. In fact, the company generates 60% of the energy it uses.
The Leaders were fascinated by the workings of the Control Centre, particularly regarding the monitoring of infrastructure and the reduction of non-revenue water. Over thirteen years, Canal installed 600 DMAs, parts of the network which can be isolated from the rest to analyse the inflow and outflow of water and identify potential losses or thefts. Pankaj Vir Gupta was “inspired” by the system, which he considered to be “critical work” and noted that in Delhi, populated by 26 million people, “only two areas have water pressure.”
Juhi Chaudhary compared the losses in supply in Madrid, which stand at just 14%, to those in Delhi, which total 45% due to both technical problems and irregular connections. Elías Manrique indicated the steps to reduce non-revenue water: on the one hand, locating public supplies such as irrigation that are not registered, abnormal consumptions that may indicate technical problems and detecting fraud, and on the other, ensuring adequate management of pressure and updating and maintaining the network.
The meeting, which the Leaders found “very interesting and comprehensive”, concluded with a visit to the Control Centre, guarded by no less than five people round the clock across the whole Canal de Isabel II network. Those people use a range of IT tools to guarantee water control, monitor infrastructure and respond to alerts, manage incidences, collect data and draft reports.