Shower or long bath, tomatoes from the garden or tropical fruit… even in the most trivial choices there can be climate awareness. It is the residue left by a new edition of Diálogos en La Vanguardia last Monday, held at the GoHub offices in Valencia, under the title Climate emergency and water.
Promoted by Global Omnium and Entidad Metropolitana de Servicios Hidráulicos (EMSHI), the meeting had the experience of managers who know the operation and management of water resources in Valencia and the metropolitan area and with scientists who, with a notable spirit of dissemination They came to say that the risk of drought and restrictions is evident and that action to prevent it must be immediate.
Elisa Valía, president of EMSHI; Pura Almenar, chemical engineer from the UPV and head of the purification and network quality area at Global Omnium.
José Antonio Sobrino, professor of Earth Physics at the UV and director of the Global Change Unit, also took part; and Samira Khodayar Pardo, PhD in Physics from the University of Karlsruhe (Germany) and CIDEGENT Excellence Researcher of the PlanGenT of the Generalitat Valenciana, as well as director of the Meteorology and Climatology group of the Center for Environmental Studies of the Mediterranean (CEAM).
José Antonio Sobrino explained that before the meeting he had reviewed the information available by satellite on the current percentage of stored water, “and we are at 33% of stored water and the average for previous years was 51%. Therefore, we have to adapt to the amount of water we have”, he pointed out.
How? For Elisa Valía, the most important challenge is the reuse of water, "to improve this process because the climate emergency already has certainties, but it is not that far away," she said. In front of her Pura Almenar agreed that "we are going to go to more drastic episodes, and therefore, we have to go to other solutions."
The context was provided, didactically, by Samira Khodayar, who explained that one of the impacts is that "we are going to have less and less rainfall, and when it does occur it will be more intense and for a very short period."
An episode that in the Valencian Community affects the flow of rivers, explained the researcher, with a decrease of between 20% and 30% in the headwaters and a greater location of rainfall in coastal areas. For this reason, she joined the prayers of the rest of the speakers: "People must be made aware that water is a luxury and we must take advantage of every drop, and be aware of what it costs to have this resource in the future," she declared. she.
Because the drought and shortages will be decisive in domestic consumption but also in agriculture, which uses 85% of the water we have. “Climate change puts us in a new situation: the climate varies, affects crops, and especially storms. It is essential at an urban level to reduce consumption and it is still necessary to prioritize some consumption over others and prepare the city in all scenarios, and even consider watering lawns and gardens”, argued Sobrino, who was recognized in 2019 with the Rei Award Jaume I for the Protection of the Environment.
Although most of the water is consumed in cultivation tasks, Elisa Valía pointed out that, although only 15% of the water is consumed in the cities, the records "do not account for the water consumed by the industry to produce products and services that are intended for citizens, therefore the percentage is higher”. And from this reflection, a proposal: "Human consumption is not the bulk of consumption, but that does not mean that we do not have to rethink," added the also councilor for the Integral Water Cycle in the Valencia City Council.
Valía defended that it is urgent to educate that there are products that should not be consumed because growing them nearby is unsustainable. Therefore, he added, "it does not make any sense to bet on crops that are the first to jump off the list when there are restrictions." The reverse reading is that the design of the crops must also be done with an environmental perspective, and not only economic.
But beyond that environmental awareness that increasingly seeps into the cracks of society, in the management and planning of cities the challenge is certainly enormous.
In general, Elisa Valía summarized the management that, in her opinion, should be considered in two actions: "Decentralize the water reuse model and have storage in the subsoil, because with that we have advanced in the good design of water reuse" .
In this second proposal, the renaturation of cities is decisive, explained Valía, who believes that cities must "rethink themselves from different points of view so that the water cycle looks more like the natural one." Greener cities and with arguments in which the realistic gaze must fit, because as José Antonio Sobrino explained, if he is not aware of the limitations, "it will be the apocalypse because you can run out of water."