Parque del Retiro, Madrid

What Madrid is doing to save water – Part 3

What Madrid is doing to save water – Part 3

Today we find out how the city adapts to climate changes

Managing water consumption intelligently today also means adjusting to the external environmental conditions and continuously introducing innovations which have shown to be efficient in making sustainable urban lifestyle possible. City administrations are increasingly turning their attention to new technologies, processes and methods that are being introduced on the market, and Madrid is no exception.

We have already seen what residents can do to reduce water consumption, and how authorities have found a way to make use of the complete water cycle in the city. Today we will peek into the way innovative technology has been put to use to take advantage of the overlap between water, environment and energy.

Water resources can be both a lab and a tool in the efforts against climate change

As knowledge about human impact on the natural ecosystems has increased, so have advances in technologies which aim to mimic the natural cycles of the environment. One of these adaptations has been the installation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) which collect stormwater and prevent its overflow into the sewerage, thus avoiding flooding and soil runoff into water bodies.

Another way to prevent flooding is the construction of stormwater reservoirs which have the capacity to collect the extra moisture from torrential rains and gradually release it into the sewerage system so as not to overload its capacity or the capacity of the water treatment plants.

What happens to the water that goes in the drain from your shower? It has been normally treated like any other wastewater, yet this water coming from domestic usage contains thermal energy that can be utilized. This is precisely what is being done to heat the indoor space of the swimming pool at the Moratalaz Sports Centre. This in turn leads to savings on heating fuel and less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.

Water treatment plants can be used to generate their own energy converting them into climate-neutral entities. This is done in two ways. For one, water treatment releases methane gas which is used for heating. Then there is the water flow current which can be used to generate electricity.

And there is more when it comes to treating wastewater. After the process, there is sludge substance left which is valuable in agriculture as a fertilizer. However, it is heavier, smellier and bulkier when it is still wet, which is why there are two thermal drying plants in Madrid where this material gets dried out until its mass is reduced and concentrated, making it easier to transport. And less transportation means less harmful emissions.

And finally, when urban authorities design the green areas and parks in the city, they prefer using native plants in harmony with the local ecosystem since they require less water and are more resistant to the local climate conditions.



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