AMB to build infrastructures valued at €132 M to guarantee water availability in the metropolis of Barcelona

El AMB plantea construir infraestructuras valoradas en 132 M€ para garantizar la disponibilidad de agua en la metrópolis de Barcelona

The AMB is planning to build a drinking water treatment plant and a water reclamation plant in El Besòs, similar to those in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. It envisages overall investment of €2.4 billion for the implementation of new water saving measures, the improvement of existing facilities and the renovation of the network to make the urban water cycle more sustainable, amongst other measures. These actions form part of the Strategic Integrated Urban Water Cycle Plan (PECIA) and are of vital importance in terms of preventing a drinking water deficit of 11 hm3/annum by 2050, a figure which could be as high as 43 hm3/annum in the event of drought.

The Área Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) has presented its new Strategic Integrated Urban Water Cycle Plan (PECIA), which constitutes the roadmap to reduce the water deficit suffered by the metropolis of Barcelona, with the focus on the year 2050. The presentation of the plan coincides with the declaration of a drought pre-alert by the Catalan Government, a fact that underlines the need for this type of plan.

The implementation of the PECIA marks the first time a local authority plans to take comprehensive action on the entire urban water cycle, from water catchment to the final stages of sanitation.

The PECIA is designed to coexist with the hydrological plans drawn up by other authorities at all levels. It seeks to position the AMB as an active agent in decision-making for the purpose of preserving a resource that is essential for life. The proposed measures will complement those of the EU Water Framework Directive, the National Hydrological Plan and the River Basin Management Plan of the District of Catalonia 2022-2027. The PECIA will serve to present metropolitan water interests to state, regional, sectorial, private actors, etc. and prioritises sustainability criteria, which differentiates it from other plans.

Eloi Badia, Vice-president of Ecology at the AMB, points out that “the metropolis must be prepared to face the climate emergency, and one of the most important areas is to guarantee water. We have a challenge for which we are preparing ourselves with the measures set out in the PECIA”.

Current situation and future scenario

The metropolitan area currently has available water resources of 806 hm3 per annum, while demand across the entire territory amounts to 397 hm3. However, a number of factors will cause these figures to worsen year on year, and the availability of water resources in the metropolitan area will decrease.

Climate change is expected to reduce surface water resources from the internal basins of the Ter and Llobregat by 12%, and groundwater resources by 9%, whilst increasing the demand for water in agriculture. The Mesa del Ter agreements will reduce the flow from this basin destined for the metropolitan area to a maximum of 54 hm3/annum from 2023, and several periods of drought could reduce the quantity and quality of water bodies.

Goals of the PECIA

The new AMB plan seeks to address 5 main challenges:

  1. Increasing the guarantee of supply and enhancing the efficiency of systems.
  2. Increasing the resilience of the urban water cycle.
  3. Contributing to the improvement of the quality of water bodies.
  4. Adapting current systems to future requirements.
  5. Improving governance, management, knowledge and transparency.

The 5 challenges are broken down into 74 different measures, including measures to reduce consumption and to obtain new resources.