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ACCIONA Agua is collaborating in two big European water management projects. The first will innovate in the distribution of the asset in the city of Cáceres, while the second is to improve the reuse of water in coastal areas.

ACCIONA Agua is collaborating in two big European water management projects. The first will innovate in the distribution of the asset in the city of Cáceres, while the second is to improve the reuse of water in coastal areas.

Jorge Malfeito, ACCIONA Agua's director of R&D and Innovation, coordinates research, development and innovation activities at the division's Technology Center and which are applicable to the European OFREA and SmartWater4Europe projects. Launch of these two important projects in recent months make ACCIONA Agua a leading company in smart water management.

AR. What are the challenges for the SmartWater4Europe project?

JM. To find out how to overcome the possible obstacles that cities could face in the future by developing and demonstrating end-to-end solutions for the smart management of water distribution networks, integrated solutions that will also be put into practice in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France. In Spain, ACCIONA Agua is the company coordinating these activities and the city chosen was Cáceres. We will work in six areas:

  • Advanced remote reading systems;
  • Control and monitoring of water quality;
  • Leak control;
  • Energy optimization;
  • Interacting with the client, who will be able to consult accumulated water consumption instantly via a website;
  • Improving management systems for servicing, and optimization of investment plans as a function of real needs.

AR. What benefits will this bring to the city of Cáceres? JM.

The management system will be governed by a business intelligence platform which, through a daily evaluation of the water resource, control of night-time consumption, pressure sensors, and the quality of the water continuously distributed throughout the city, will allow the real-time detection of any fault, blockage or leak and reveal where approximately in the network it is occurring. These advances will reduce the time it takes for locating and repairing faults. The remote reading of meters and detection of anomalous consumption will help ACCIONA Agua immediately alert users if it is suspected there are water leaks in their homes. Non-domestic users will also benefit from the new system as they will be able to consult their accumulated consumption instantly via a website.

AR. Can this system be implemented in other cities?

JM. The project consists of developing and integrating technologies so that it can be installed in other cities, always taking into account the unique characteristics of the distribution networks in each city.

AR. In which other projects are the ACCIONA Agua R&D&I department working in the short-to-medium term?

ACCIONA Agua has is sights set on technological leadership and strives for efficiency in all its processes

JM. We are coordinating different projects related to the water cycle, from the study of new desalination and water treatment processes to energy optimization, advanced processes to eliminate emerging pollutants, and studies related to the improvement of water quality and water resource management. Technological leadership is one of the company's goals. It is working in the VETRA project, for example, to minimize waste from membrane cleaning processes at desalination plants, and on the development of new desalination pre-treatment processes in the DEMETER project. The latter bore fruit in the form of the ULTRADAF process which will make up part of the pre-treatment at the Al Jubail desalination plant in Saudi Arabia. In R&D and Innovation, we have built, and will operate, a pilot plant that will serve to demonstrate this process to our client. This will help specify the plant's operational parameters.

OFREA: improving the reuse of water in coastal areas

The OFREA project on water reuse was selected for the EU's LIFE+ program aimed at developing R&D and Innovation projects with the most potential in the environmental field. The objective of the OFREA project is to increase the percentage of wastewater reused in areas where the high salinity of treated water limits its uses, as occurs in coastal zones. ACCIONA Agua is to research new desalination processes that can be applied to water treatment, while working on reducing related energy costs. It will also study how the water produced for reuse behaves when applied to various tasks. The project is organized in different stages: first, theoretical analysis will be carried out; then studies will be performed in a pilot plant to discover the viability of the process and expanding the catalog of own technologies to be applied at water treatment plants when required. Also participating in the project is ESAMUR, Murcia Region's sanitation and wastewater treatment agency, a public company created to manage and control the region's existing sanitation and water treatment facilities, among other functions. Visit OFREA project website.


Jorge Malfeito is a chemist, specialized in polymer science and technology, and has an MBA from EOI, Spain's School for Industrial Organization. He has over 20 years' experience in the water industry, where he has developed both international and national R&D projects. His work focuses on desalination, from the viewpoint of processes and membrane development, and on research into water treatment and reuse. Jorge has published more than 20 articles on desalination and water treatment in specialist journals, and given over 40 lectures at national and international congresses.

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