Global Omnium is intensifying its environmental protection actions

Global Omnium is intensifying its environmental protection actions, moving closer to achieving its circular economy objectives and incorporating the United Nations 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals into its management strategy

Since its foundation, as Aguas de Valencia, Global Omnium has been firmly committed to the environment. The company implements key actions aimed at conserving and protecting water for supply, whilst responsibly treating millions of litres of water with the greatest respect for water ecosystems and enabling this water to be reused for environmental purposes or in agriculture.

The Board of Directors of Global Omnium has ratified a strategic plan that includes, amongst other proposals, the development of innovative new water management solutions, and a reinforced commitment to protecting water resources and the environment.

Global Omnium has formalised its environmental commitment by incorporating the main action proposals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into the company’s corporate strategy. By joining the Spanish Global Compact Network and signing the commitment of September 6, 2019, the company became a participant in United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest social responsibility and sustainable development initiative led by organisations and businesses. Global Omnium’s firm commitment over many years to all areas of sustainability, particularly environmental sustainability, has now found formal expression within the framework of the SDG.

Research to rescue the environment

In the last year, Global Omnium has managed 368 wastewater treatment plants and 28 drinking water treatment plants, through which it serves over five million people spread over 13 autonomous communities in Spain, and six countries.

In this period, the company has treated a total of 280.3 cubic hectometres of wastewater and produced 107,393 tonnes of fertiliser for agricultural use.

45% of the treated water was supplied to farmers with concession rights, while a significant portion of the remaining water recycled at WWTPs helped to mitigate the effects of drought, a recurring problem on the Mediterranean coast and one that has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change. All the water returned to the cycle complies with the requirements set out in legislation and the company adopts even more stringent controls in the case of discharges in “Sensitive Areas” threatened by eutrophication processes.

For example, Global Omnium researchers have worked on projects such as MICROPLAST, which seeks to prevent microplastics from entering natural spaces. According to the project leaders, microplastics “represent one of the greatest environmental problems of our time. Microplastics in oceans have environmental, economic and health consequences. We believe that Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) are very useful tools in terms of reducing microplastics in the environment”.

In collaboration with the Aimplas technology institute and the Universitat de Valencia, the project research work studies the inflow of plastics to WWTPs, the processes through which they can be screened, and the efficiency of microplastics removal with different filtration systems on different scales. The goal is to lead knowledge of microplastics and provide solutions to prevent them causing problems for marine ecosystems and entering the food chain.

Pioneering projects: SARS- GOAnalytics and Oribital EOS “the sea detectives”

Global Omnium has the corporate mission of conserving the environment from a transversal perspective and this vocation is implemented across all areas and divisions of the company. For example, the water quality laboratory has been researching viruses in water for just over three years. Thanks to this work, Global Omnium was the first company to develop a pioneering method to detect COVID 19 genetic material in wastewater. Now, just a few weeks later, sampling and control work is being carried out in many Spanish cities.

Another example is provided by the intensive work being undertaken within the framework of GOHub. And a highlight in the area of startups is the work of Orbital EOS, which recently received a GO! ODS award from the FUNDACION Rafel del Pino. We call them the ‘sea detectives’ because of their capacity to detection marine pollution all over the world, through the application of their algorithms and satellite images. They also specialise in early warning of forest fires, which is of particular current relevance as we enter the season of highest risk.

Fundación Oceanogràfic and Fundación Aguas de Valencia 

The Oceanogràfic de València, managed by Avanqua, which belongs to the Global Omnium group, is working on 22 research lines and has a programme of 57 projects related to conservation and animal welfare.

The work of “El Arca del MAR” in the area of conservation is a prime example. Since being created by the Fundación Oceanográfic, “El Arca del MAR”, popularly known as the “turtle hospital, has enabled the recovery of over 900 sea turtles and returned them to their natural environment.

Last November, for the first time, the Directorate General of the Environment put approximately 1,000 specimens of the Valencia toothcarp into the “albufereta” salt water lake at the Fundación Oceanogràfic. These fish were bred in captivity at the Centro de Conservación de Especies Dulceacuícolas in El Palmar (L´Albufera Natural Park). The centre belongs to the Valencian Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition. Following a period of adaptation, these first specimens have successfully reproduced to consolidate a new spawning ground from which it will be possible to begin programmes for the reintroduction of the species into natural spaces where they have disappeared or are in danger of extinction.

Highlights of the activities of the Fundación Aguas de Valencia also include the pioneering bioremediation experiment undertaken in the final section of the River Tùria estuary. In collaboration with Valencia City Council, Global Omnium has successfully tested the use of bacteria to facilitate environmental enhancement of degraded river beds. The company is also working with the Fundación LIMNE to recover the presence of otters in Valencian rivers.

The objective of the project, which is also being carried out in collaboration with the Regional Government of Valencia (Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Climate Emergency and Ecological Transition), is to ascertain the real situation of otters in Valencian rivers and to propose the most suitable measures for the conservation of this endangered species.