Mexico’s Water Advisory Council Leads Effort to Strengthen Water Allocation Regime

On June 26, 2018, Consejo Consultivo del Agua (CCA)—Mexico’s Water Advisory Council’s—convened the Water Security and Legal Certainty Thematic Committee with the support of 2030 WRG and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

This participatory workshop was part of the committee’s activities and had several ambitious objectives: (i) share the initial diagnosis of the Mexican water allocation regime; (ii) enable a dialogue on the challenges and prospects for strengthening and modernizing the Mexican water allocation regime; (iii) review the problems that the private sector commonly faces when interacting with the regime; (iv) better understand the private sector’s perspectives about water risk management and water stewardship, and learn about their strategies to manage risks; and (v) identify barriers and opportunities to create an enabling environment for better water stewardship in Mexico.  

Workshop participants hailed from a variety of sectors. Representatives from the private sector included Arca Continental, Coca-Cola, Constellation Brands, Femsa Foundation, Peñoles Mining Group, Grupo Modelo, AB InBev, Heineken, Nestlé, Rotoplas, and Suez. Other participants included the Toluca Valley Business Council (CEVAT), the Commission for Sustainable Development (CESPEDES); AFD (France’s development agency, Conservation International, and the World Wild Fund.   

During the workshop, the President of CCA, Dr. Victor Lichtinger, emphasized the need to strengthen the Mexican water allocation regime’s capacity to provide greater legal certainty to stakeholders, thus creating a more enabling environment for private sector investments and economic growth. CESPEDES’s Executive Director, José Ramón Ardavin mentioned that the water allocation regime plays a central role in managing Mexico’s water resources, and reminded the audience that the private sector can play a big role in encouraging the government to take the necessary steps to improve water stewardship in Mexico. During the workshop, Coca-Cola, Fresnillo Mining Group, and Nestle gave presentations about their water stewardship strategies, setting the stage for a productive discussion about ways to improve water stewardship in Mexico. The outcomes of the workshop, including some initial policy recommendations and next steps, are included in the workshop report.

SWPN promotes public-private collaboration in wastewater treatment and reuse

The Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) working group on Effluent and Waste Water Management (EWWM) has set its sights on improving municipal wastewater treatment and reuse in South Africa.

Municipal reuse is gaining increased attention from policy-makers and there are plans to increase its contribution to the country’s water supply mix. The draft National Water and Sanitation Master Plan shows that the ideal water supply mix would see a nearly 3% increase of reuse contribution to total water supply: from 1,319 million m3/a (about 9,5 % of total supply) in 2015 to 1,907 million m3/a (about 12% of a much-increased yield) in 2030.

The plan points to a huge scope for developing reuse in large towns and cities where suitable treatment technology is already employed; where there are adequate skills for operation of high tech equipment; and where city size makes reuse financially viable. This is especially relevant in coastal cities where wastewater is discharged to sea and “lost” from the system.

“Against the backdrop of decreasing freshwater availability and increasing water demands, municipal water reuse holds tremendous potential for alleviating some of the pressure on South Africa’s water resources” said Mr. Nandha Govender, Chairman of the Effluent and Waste Water Management working group.

The SWPN aims to catalyze public private collaboration for municipal wastewater treatment and reuse. The EWWM working group is considering the following options:

  1. Reconnaissance to identify municipalities where large water-using private sector actors can be off-takers for treated municipal wastewater thereby making projects for works upgrades or new builds financially viable. Opportunities that offer prospects for ancillary revenue streams or revenue enhancement through energy recovery and generation being the most attractive.
  2. Capacity building initiatives that would feature the use of private sector wastewater treatment plants for hands-on training opportunities targeting municipal officials.
  3. Support for the expansion of the financing market for wastewater treatment and reuse through market research and stakeholder engagement. This work has already started with preliminary results showing a funding gap of up to USD 970 million in the next three years.

From reconnaissance to construction

With these and other activities, a water resources development project pipeline funnel – from reconnaissance to construction – developed by the Department of Water Sanitation could be expanded and accelerated.  The current funnel shows that investigations of direct re-use opportunities are underway for a total capacity of about 280 million m3/a (just over 10% of the projected water gap of 2.7 billion m3/a by 2030). Of this total capacity, feasibility studies are underway for 125 m3/a.

Other reports have shown an even greater capacity at pre-feasibility and feasibility stage by municipalities and other institutions, underscoring the need for a renewed focus on the underexploited resource.

The EWWN seeks to address the issue of mining impacts on the water supply in South Africa. The focus of the working group is on coordinating private and public sector players to optimize the utilization of treated effluent and waste water. The working group recognizes the effect that mining activities have on the country’s water resources and quality and believes that mine water treatment can be expanded or improved to increase water security in South Africa.

2030 WRG Pushes for Adoption of Wastewater Reuse Standards in Mongolia

By spearheading the development of standards based on best practices of wastewater treatment, recycling, and reuse, Mongolia 2030 WRG partnership provided the Government of Mongolia with a critical tool to implement key national priorities and policies, including the national water program and the policy on Green Development.

The 2030 WRG program in Mongolia is currently developing two projects—one in Ulaanbaatar, where many factories are located, and the other in the South Gobi Desert, which is the heart of Mongolia’s mining industry—to support the implementation of the recently-approved standards on wastewater reuse. The projects will demonstrate the benefits of adopting the new standards and inspire more widespread adoption by the private sector.

Groundwater is the source of approximately 80 percent of Mongolia’s water consumption. Increasing water consumption—driven by rapid urban population increase and economic—is severely taxing Mongolia’s ground water supply. Human activities, including manufacturing and mining, pollute existing ground water, further depleting available water resources. Left unchecked, Mongolia will most likely face a 50-percent water shortfall by 2030. Mongolia is in need of a paradigm shift.

Although the Mongolian government introduced several laws and guidelines targeted at preserving water resources through integrated water resources management, such regulations were ineffective in curbing water pollution and promoting wastewater treatment and reuse. Implementation of wastewater reuse was also weak due to an underdeveloped legislative environment and the lack of knowledge in global best practices.

It was against this backdrop that the Mongolia 2030 WRG team initiated a workstream, with the help of the Government of Mongolia, to improve the legal environment for wastewater treatment and reuse in Mongolia. The team’s goal was to develop draft standards for treated wastewater reuse based on international best practices.

This was an ambitious goal given the fact that developing each standard for any given water reuse application requires an iterative process that involves careful review of existing and proposed standards in Mongolia, and consultations with various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, large industrial units, industry associations, and civil society. These steps are followed by the identification of water quality parameters relevant for industrial wastewater (effluent). Only then would a draft standard be prepared. The draft standard would then be made available to relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors, as well as in civil society for their feedback. Finally, the draft would have be officially submitted to the government at two levels, namely the Mongolian Technical Committee of Environmental Standards and the Mongolian Technical Committee of Standardization and Measurement.

Despite the arduous process, Mongolia 2030 WRG managed to develop and submit a draft for the Technical Requirements of Treated Wastewater Reuse Standards for official review. On June 15, 2018, the Mongolian Technical Committee of Environmental Standards approved the draft. Shortly after, on June 21, 2019, the Mongolian National Technical Committee on Standardization endorsed it.