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Water and Environment Journal.

Print ISSN 1747-6585

Sustainability of water management in Zaragoza city
Chris Shirley-Smith1, Chris Cheeseman1 & David Butler2, FCIWEM

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, UK; and 2Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Keywords arid regions; consultation; NGO; participation; Spain; sustainable development; water conservation; water demand management. Correspondence Chris Shirley-Smith Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK. Email: doi:10.1111/j.1747-6593.2007.00103.x

This paper reviews the significant developments in water management that have occurred in Zaragoza, Spain in recent years. Action to achieve more sustainable water management was initiated by a local nongovernmental organisation (Ecodes) persuading and assisting the municipality to improve its delivery performance. Key successes, made by all sectors of the community, include the reduction of water use in the City by 1600 ML/year since 1995 despite significant population growth. The sustainability of the campaign is assessed within a recently devised PESTER framework which systematically addresses the key political, economic, social, technical, environmental and regulatory factors. This highlighted that a workable tariff system has now been achieved which is arguably fair to all, and that a balance has been achieved between local and nationally applicable water law. The main conclusion is that in order to achieve significant progress, it is vital to harmonise the energies, finances and above all commitment of all the main stakeholders.

Zaragoza is a city of around 650 000 inhabitants situated in the self-governing province of Aragun in North East ¨ Spain. It lies at a natural cross roads of the ancient North/ South and West/East trade routes, and is situated on the South bank of the River Ebro which for millennia has provided the city with water supply, sewage disposal and is a main artery of communication. Zaragoza has ancient roots in the fortified Roman trading settlement and port of Caesaraugusta. The extensive Roman architectural remains of the original city demonstrate clear evidence of a sophisticated supply of clean water imported through lead pipes over aqueducts across the Ebro, and elaborate storm and capacious foul water subterranean drainage systems leading back into the river from the public open spaces and merchants’ villas. The City has always had close links with the River, and because the ambient climate is relatively arid, the notion of water has always been central to the life and culture of Zaragoza.

Key actors in water management in Zaragoza
Regional water management is the responsibility of the ´ Confederaciun Hidrografica del Ebro (CHE) which repre¨ sents the interests of all the River Ebro basin water users.

Most issues concerning water management are decided at Provincial rather than national level in Spain and the complexity of water law reflects that variety of water regimes. ´ ´ The Gobierno de la Comunidad Autonima de Aragon is the next level of legislative administration, which although not having significant direct intervention, exercises an important local influence over the distribution of water resources in this region of Spain. The water supply and sewage systems of Zaragoza are now owned and operated by the Municipal Council (Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza). Since 1993 the main waste water treatment plant downstream at La Cartuja has been operated by a private company, under a 25 year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract. ´ The Fundacion Ecolog´a y Desarrollo (Ecodes), a nonı governmental organisation (NGO) was founded in 1992 to address a range of environmental problems around Zaragoza in response to the Local Agenda 21 (LA21) proposals framed at the Environmental Summit at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 1996 Ecodes adopted the theme of ‘Water’ and received specific funding from the European ‘LIFE’ Programme to ‘show that it is possible to resolve the problems of water scarcity with an alternative approach that is cheaper, more ecological, speedier and without social conflicts: increasing efficiency in its use’ (Vinuales ˜ ´ Edo & Fernandez Soler 2003). This became the project

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River Ebro

Fig. 1. Location of Zaragoza.


Canal de Aragón

‘Zaragoza – Ciudad Ahorradora de Agua’ (‘Zaragoza – Water Saving City’).

The main water supply for the City is the Canal Imperial ´ de Aragon (see Fig. 1) built between 1776 and 1790 which brings raw water from an abstraction point at Fontellas, about 80 km up the Ebro, into the main treatment and distribution complex in the southwest part of Zaragoza. Open reservoirs contain approximately a day’s supply of treated water. The exposed nature of the treated water reservoirs is recognised as a problem (see Table 1) and is being addressed. Much of the inner city water distribution infrastructure was installed around 1910, with the next largest single network expansion occurring during the 1960s. The fragile situation of minimal reserve capacity and poor water quality will be resolved by the completion of a

new pipeline from a dammed lake (Lake Yesa) in the Pyrenees Mountains and improvements in local storage. This is expected to bring long-term improvements in both the quality of water and the security of supply, but which could also lead to a 10–15% price increase for water to pay for the capital costs. This is based on the assumption that there will be a 50% EU grant towards the project. In the interim, the focus is on water conservation. A resume of the tariff structure for 2007 can be found in Appendix 1. This illustrates the difficult balance which has to be struck between providing water which is affordable for all with the requirement to raise significant revenue for the improvements needed.

Phases of intervention by Ecodes and their relationship with the Ayuntamiento
The impetus for change in water management in Zaragoza originated in the efforts of Ecodes in 1996 to influence

Table 1 Problems and solutions for water infrastructure in Zaragoza (1995–2005) (Ramon Entralgo 2006, personal communication) Problem Extensive network (built 1910, enlarged during 1960s) Numerous ‘dead legs’ Variable pressure across the network Uneven chlorination Poor water quality Underinvestment Poor quality materials High breakages and leakage 290 000 meters installed 10% faulty 25% water unmetered and unpaid Significant leakage downsteam of private connection Reservoirs at Casablanca Only 1 day’s supply Not covered (quality) Solution Remove, reduce or improve Divide into zones for better district management (aim for 5 Bar) Equalise dosage Efforts to improve quality Projected investment of 82 M Euros – 163 km new additions to network Replace 100 km of mains in 4 years Reduce leakage by 15% (to approximately 10%) Replace with digital meters, as well as all new connections Parks now all been metered Encourage/persuade/facilitate private repairs to be carried out Aim to reduce private consumption by 50% (200 L/h/day to 100–120 L/h/day) New pipeline being built Covers under construction


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Table 2 Leakage by sector (Ramon Entralgo 2006)
Average consumption (L /person/day)


Leakage and loss by sector Unmeasured Faulty meters Public company installations Private installations Distribution network Total

Volume 1000s (ML) (Annual) 2–3 4–5 1–2 3–4 10–14 24

118 116 114 112 110 108 106 104 102 100 98 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Year

the Municipality and other players to participate in a campaign to save water and improve the service. Ecodes identified three fundamental issues to be addressed to improve the management of water in the City: (1) The price of water was too cheap. (2) The quality of the water was poor. (3) The accumulated lack of investment in maintenance of the infrastructure over time was a significant critical factor in the 24% leakage/unaccounted water from the network (Table 2). The relationship between Ecodes and Zaragoza Council (Environment Department) dates back to 1996/1997 when the Ayuntamiento signed a letter of support for the Ecodes LIFE bid, and which, once it was successful, the Council have continued to underwrite, but without direct financial risk to themselves. A coordinating committee drawn from technical staff across the relevant Council ´ services was formed. This was known as the Comite de ´ Coordinacion y Seguimiento which then prepared the ‘Plan to Improve the Management and Quality of the Water Supply’. This ‘Plan’ was developed against a backdrop in Spain of increasing incidences of drought which formed drivers for controversial proposals for bulk water transfer between river basins and pressure from the influential tourist and agricultural industries to provide them with more water. The requirement to source new bulk supplies of water therefore has been a pre-occupation with the Council for a number of years.

Fig. 2. Trend of the average domestic consumption per head per day in Zaragoza 1995–2005.

Phase 1: 1997–1999
´ Phase 1 of the ‘Intervencion’ was predominantly funded by the LIFE grant. Having identified the problems, and recognised that the challenge would have to be sustained over the long term, the first phase of the project ‘Zaragoza, Water Saving City: small steps, great solutions’ ´ (Vinuales Edo & Fernandez Soler 2003) aimed to ˜ (1) influence all those who were contributing to the wasteful water culture, (2) engage all water-using ‘stakeholders’ in the project, (3) inform users about water-saving technology and devices,

(4) advance a collective challenge (to save 1 billion litres in domestic use in 1 year), (5) encourage people to think seriously about the need to save water in domestic situations. The results of this campaign were successful, achieving an average reduction in water use from 113 L/h/day in 1996 to 104 L/h/day in 2000 despite an overall steady increase in population of the City by some 20 000 over the same period. This reduction – recording only internal domestic consumption (i.e., for human requirements in the home and at some work places) – saved some 12 ML over the 2-year period. The saving represented 5.6% of annual domestic consumption (see Figure 2). The campaign was effective not only in the home. Almost 70% of the educational establishments in Zaragoza participated in the ‘Ahorradora’ (water saving) scheme which would account for a significant proportion of the reduction observed. The citizens themselves responded positively by changing their personal consumption habits, although Vinuales and Fern´ andez report that ‘there was in fact a ˜ resistance to the introduction of water-saving technology’. This ‘inspirational’ phase influenced the City Council to reform its own practices with regard to water and wastewater provision. A summary of the assessment of the work which was required and the problems facing the Council, together with some of the solutions adopted during the period 1995–2005 are given in Table 1. This ´ resume also illustrates that the Council were well aware of the problems and were beginning to take steps to address the situation to improve quantity and quality.

Phase 2: 1999–2003
The second phase of the Ecodes project had the objective of creating examples of ‘50 Good Practices in Technology

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˜ ´ Table 3 Reduction by percentage and volume of water used in an exemplary range of social sectors (Vinuales Edo & Fernandez Soler 2003) Annual water savings Type Carwash Shopping centre Cultural centre Educational centre Educational centre Firm Hotel trade Hospitals Offices Residences Plant nurseries Households Entity ´ Tunel. Lavado veh´culos ı Mercado Central Museo de Zaragoza ´ Coop. Educacion El Chalet ´ Colegio Aleman ˜ Peluquer´a Inunez ı Hotel Boston Hospital Royo Villanova DKV Previasa ´ Fundacion Rey Ardid El Vivero de Abel Block of council houses (SMRUZ) % 75 13.3 21 84 51 91 (summer) 19% hot water 27.6% cold water 47.3 33 16 84 30 m3 6750 135 2900 562 2429 2088 Actions undertaken and some observations Water re-use Change in floor cleaning system Partial substitution in wash room (urinals) Environmental education Improvement of maintenance of installations Cooling Tests for 2 years to study efficiency Compared with data from other hospitals in Saragossa Compared with DKV offices’ average in Spain Compared with data of study of residences for elderly Compared with installation of traditional plant nursery Estimated comparison of average consumption

22 976 630 n/a 13 438 2016

˜ ´ Table 4 Reduction by percentage and volume of water used by an exemplary sample of industry in Zaragoza (Vinuales Edo & Fernandez Soler 2003) Annual water savings Name of business ˜ Sociedad Espanola de Acumulador Tudor Industrias Serva A&S Fersa Sociedad Anonima Industrias Celulosa Aragonesa Galvasa Bosch Siemens Home Appliances (BSH) group Hispano Carrocera ´ Amylum Iberica ´ Serunion Type of activity Design, manufacture and marketing of electric storage batteries Design, manufacture and marketing of combustion motor parts Design, manufacture and marketing of conical roller wheelings Manufacture and sale of paper for corrugated cardboard Galvanisation Manufacture of electro domestics Assembly of buses Corn production Preparation of meals for groups % 20 23 8.3 12 46 27 12.4 3.5 64 m3 23 910 850 152 140 000 629 20 490 794 3840 9046 Actions undertaken Water recycling and change of production appliances Modification of cooling system machinery Change in production process leading to zero spillage Water recycling Zero spillage in production Improvement of processes (make use of washing water, sewage treatment . . .) Control of filter system Introduction of inverse osmosis system Reform of pipes and change of sanitary system

and Uses in gardens and parks, buildings of public and ´ industrial use’ (Vinuales Edo & Fernandez Soler 2003). A ˜ range of water-saving techniques was deployed where appropriate including demand management devices, recirculating cooling systems, improvements in cleaning methods and maintenance regimes, combined with the more rigorous introduction of water meters. Table 3 presents examples of reduced water consumption (13–91% savings) resulting from these measures drawn across all sectors of society (except industry). As may be seen the majority of these examples involve places predominantly where people are concentrated. Table 4 shows water reduction achieved at a selection of heavy industrial settings, again with some remarkable results (3.5–64% savings). There can be little doubt that the intervention of Ecodes was largely responsible for many of these practical successes.

In March 2002, the Ayuntamiento passed the ‘Plan to Improve and Manage the Quality of Supply of Water in Zaragoza’ and agreed the investment of some E80 milllion into infrastructure improvements, during the period 2002–2008. However, Ecodes took no role in implementing the improvements in water quality. As one tangible commitment to the ‘Water Saving City’ and as part of their fulfilment of the LA21 objectives, during the period 1994–2000, the City Council undertook the renovation of a 14th/15th century former convent building into a Centre for the Documentation of Water and the Environment which contains an extensive and well-used library open to the public, and an environmental information database accessible by Internet. The availability of such material for research is an invaluable asset particularly to encourage young people to be engaged with their environment.

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Phase 3: 2003–2005
During Phase 3, Ecodes worked much more closely with the Council itself to participate in the drawing up of an ‘Ordanza municipal para ahorrar agua’ (municipal order to save water). This will eventually become part of the ´ ´ ´ new national ‘Codigo Tecnico de la Edificacion’ (Municipal Building Code) 2006. A considerable number of very detailed and specific guide publications and Self-Assessment ‘Ecoaudits’ aimed at different sections of the community and businesses were published by Ecodes and distributed widely to industry, restaurants, bars and cafes, hotels, schools and homes. Each of these pamphlets is designed to help the owners and operators of specific types of buildings assess and manage their current water demand more efficiently, thus reducing both consumption and water bills. Ecodes also published a booklet containing the results of their 50 ‘best practice’ Phase 2 projects of water saving in Zaragoza across all sectors. This was distributed gratis to encourage others to follow suite. Additionally, Ecodes has produced a further booklet for xerotope gardens explaining to domestic gardeners the best plants to choose, the orientation of the garden and a variety of general tips about the management of low water-requiring gardens. The Council’s contribution through the Department of Infrastructures during this period was to reduce the city’s water consumption from 85 000 ML (per year) in 1995 to a projected 65 000 ML (per year) by 2010. By 2004 they had achieved a target of 70 000 ML. As a result the intention is to advance the final target to 2008 (Fig. 3).

Phase 4: ongoing developments
Phase 4 into which Ecodes are now moving, recognises that much of Phase 3 had concentrated on establishing and reaffirming important sustainable links with the Municipality, possibly to the neglect of the local community. During Phase 4 attention is being switched back to the local community and industry. Given that there are only 4/5 staff working across the spectrum of water at Ecodes, it is inevitable that constant reassessments and adjustments in the target audience will need to be made periodically. Ecodes have developed both a working ‘menu’ of ‘interventions’, and also a comprehensive approach to the 25 000 businesses of Zaragoza. It is now possible to retrospectively assess the continued downward trend in individual daily consumption showing the sustained success of the on-going ‘Intervencion’ as illustrated by Fig. 2.

The broader picture
Despite the local solutions being undertaken in Zaragoza, there is a background of developing local, national and international water legislation which continues to lead to further tensions. In 2001 the National Hydrological Plan (NHP) (Plan hidrologico nacional 2001) was published by the Spanish Government. One major element of this was the bulk abstraction and transfer of water from the River Ebro to other, drier areas of the South East to support ´ tourism and agriculture, and to which project Aragon has been fundamentally opposed. This scheme is ‘contrary to sustainable development objectives, all environmental and other NGOs, as well as numerous academics, scientists, unions and political parties who are trying to stop this project’ (Iglesias Ricou 2003). These groups are mainly trying to block the 40% funding from the European Union for these projects which is in contradiction to the new European Water Framework Directive’ (Rivernet website). ´ The President of the Government of Aragon, argues strongly against the NHP explaining that the region is already a paradox in that it has plenty of water from the mountains, but the land of the foothills is predominantly desert (Iglesias Ricou 2003). Furthermore, if the diversion plan of the Ebro’s waters were to be carried out, it raises a ´ second paradox in that public taxation from Aragon would be used to fund a scheme which deprives itself of its own water. Finally, it highlights the contradiction between the nationally driven regulation of the Ebro transfer and the principles of territorial planning and environmental protection contained in the Spanish Constitution (1978). The Plan was abandoned in 2004 following a change of Government.

Volume of water impounded for supply (ML /year)







40 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Year

Fig. 3. Reduction of intake of water by Zaragoza (1995–2005) (Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza 2006).

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´ By way of consolidating Aragon’s position as a ‘waterwise’ territory, a major exhibition on the theme of ‘water and sustainable development of cities’ was agreed by all parties who are now collaborating on preparing to host the EXPO 2008 in Zaragoza. To engage the City’s population with the Expo, a series of occasional public discussions and debates has been established to examine various aspects of the water cycle. These discussions are part sponsored by a number of large local industrial partners in conjunction with the Ayuntamiento thus affirming the strengthened nature of partnership working.

Analysis of Zaragoza water management
The PESTER framework
The ‘PESTER’ framework for the discussion of ‘sustainability’ is an adaptation of a categorisation system developed in Japan by Kaivo-oja et al. (2004). They recognised that the original three overlapping ‘fields’ or ‘pillars’ of ‘economic, social and environmental’ activity could not adequately describe or encompass the full range of aspirations of ‘sustainability’ as applied to water, and formalised what were already becoming ‘informal’ new headings in a new classification: Political Economic Social Technological Environmental These individual ‘PESTE’ fields we now refer to as ‘factors’. To these Factors it is also necessary to add ‘Regulatory’ as this is an essential but independent framework field which the other concept categories draw on but do not formalise. The Zaragoza case is a good example of the significant part regulation plays in the local context for achieving a sustainable solution. At its most basic level, PESTER framework is a useful evaluative and comparative framework which allows the ordered and comprehensive qualitative analysis of the key sustainability factors which have few or no obvious common metrics. As an illustration of the utility of this framework, a PESTER analysis has been completed for the Zaragoza water management case by examining each factor in turn.

management’, Chapter 18). LA21 called upon all citizens to play their part in furthering ‘sustainability’, and particularly local administrations to lead this new initiative. It was the NGO Ecodes which took up the challenge in Zaragoza in advance of the Ayuntamiento. The latter recognising that there might be European funding available for the initiative, then pledged its support. As a result, water saving has since become an embodied policy of Zaragoza Municipal Council as the water supplier for the City. This in turn has driven a major overhaul of the capital assets, service provision, water quality and pricing structure of the water and waste water supply arrangements. Because the control and responsibility for water in Zaragoza lies exclusively with the Council, they can be held accountable by the customers through their representatives, although the water services division of the Council operates almost as an autonomous unit in the manner of a private company. The value of a robust water and waste water supply system for a growing regional capital is not underestimated by the Council, who take pride in the modernisation they are carrying out, and the expansion of the service to areas of new-build – largely industrial – in close collaboration with the planning department. New potable and nonpotable water resources are being developed on a regional basis. The relationship between Ecodes and the Council is a symbiotic one, in that the NGO appears to be the precursor of initiatives, but can only achieve its objectives in full with close collaboration with a Council who is both the elected representative body of the inhabitants, the major purse holder and ultimately the responsible supplier of water services. Both parties are, and have to be seen to be, equal partners in the relationship to produce effective beneficial change.

The underlying economic principle of water services in Zaragoza is that of cost ‘sustainability’. That is to say that investment in running the service should not exceed income, which is almost exclusively tariff based. There are certain ‘one-off’ projects whose funding brings Zaragoza into line both with EU legislation and to meet future demand. However, the more effective the watersaving campaign is among the consumers, the less income the water services provider will receive. Therefore less capital resources are available for repairs and maintenance, unless replaced or cross subsidised from other sources. The Ayuntamiento commissioned a study in 2002 to survey the water usage habits of a sample of Zaragozan

The major initial political driver for the Zaragoza campaign ‘The Water Saving City’ was the impetus from the United Nations Conference ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro (1992) and the principles embodied in LA21 with particular reference to water (‘Analysis of Zaragoza water

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citizens. As a result, the Council has devised and introduced in 2005 a system of charging for water which is intended to be as equitable as possible whilst sufficiently flexible to meet the majority of consumer circumstances. The new tariff system is also highly complex and equally complex to administer. Despite this flexible financial structure, the price of water services is set to rise year on year to meet the investment requirement. Between 2004 and 2005 water prices have already risen by 30% and were due to reach full recovery costs in 2006. A more detailed summary and explanation of the tariff structure may be found in Appendix 1. Investment is directed primarily at improving the infrastructure, reducing the high leakage rates and extending functioning meterage cover. The 25-year BOT deal made with Veolia for sewage and wastewater treatment appears to have been satisfactory to all parties, although nothing is known (to this author) about the quality of discharge of the treated water to the Ebro. La Cartuja treats 90% of Zaragoza’s sewage at the rate of 260 ML/day.

dependence on public parks and gardens for relaxation is an important factor. The use of water in public open spaces to keep them attractive and viable is an important consideration. The Council which manages its own parks and gardens was accustomed to having sufficient water supplied to maintain these spaces. The Water Committee, however, decided that the water used for irrigation would have to be paid for in future. Ecodes has also been advocating greater participation in the CHE as ‘environmentalists, consumers and neighbourhood associations are currently under-represented’ (Garrido et al. 2004).

The ‘easy-choice’ technologies and solutions applied to the water-saving campaign in Zaragoza are similar to those deployed elsewhere (for example the Environment Agency for England & Wales, ‘How we help to Save Water’, UK’s Waterwise). These focus on the promotion of water and energy efficient white goods, installation of aerated appliances, spring loaded taps, low flush toilets, etc. But also the campaign relies on changes in personal behaviour by paying attention to smaller everyday savings – turning off the tap, repairing leaking valves and washers, or refraining from thawing frozen food under running water. Ecodes has reported that the change of personal habits had been more easily accomplished than the installation of water management devices. This may have been due to the extra financial investments required ´ to be made by households (Vinuales Edo & Fernandez ˜ Soler 2003). Little progress has been made in Zaragoza with regard to the promotion of ‘alternative’ technologies such as rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling. Consideration of these would reduce the demand for water and reduce the energy used for producing fully potable water for all applications. Garc´a Lucea (2006, personal commuı nication) makes reference to alternative water sources, especially the use of groundwater for the watering of parks and for commercial use in factories, but it is not seen as a substitute or part substitute for domestic application.

The third important driver was the urgent requirement to upgrade local delivery of water services (and wastewater services) in Zaragoza that had suffered a long term deterioration due to neglect, together with an expanding civil population requiring new infrastructure. Background social pressure to provide these services in a more satisfactory and comprehensive manner had been growing as a result. Because the ‘Water Saving’ campaign was initiated by an NGO, it is likely that there has been wider acceptance of it than had the project originated with the City Council. This is because after many years of under-investment, and because of the nature of democratic politics, such a municipal-originated campaign might have only found limited support from a minority based on the ‘political’ divide. The remainder of the population might have regarded it with a degree of cynicism. As the case demonstrates, the opposite has been true, and that a measured positive response to the campaign has been engendered across the spectrum of Zaragozan society. Once drawn into the water-saving campaign, the Council has adopted a socially sensitive approach to tariffs which has been continued despite a change of political regime in the town hall. This demonstrates a degree of long-term sustainability, signed up to by all parties. A greater analysis of the tariff structure can be seen in Appendix A. ´ In a relatively arid environment such as Aragon where the population lives in dense urban communities, the

The most important environmental driver was precipitated by the 1995 severe drought which affected some 11 million people across Spain. Zaragoza is set between a water rich region (the Pyrenees) and an extremely arid region to the West. Perhaps the greatest environmental impact from the water services provision is the balance of ´ water taken from the Canal de Aragon to provide both a

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supply for the City, and to ensure that there is sufficient surplus for local agriculture in the surrounding countryside. The Council’s Environmental Protection Unit has four staff responsible for monitoring industrial wastewater discharges from approximately 2500 factories. Newer industries around the outskirts of Zaragoza include IT factories, together with heavier polluters such as paint manufacturers. Heavy metal pollution may originate from a range of local industries (V. Bueno 2006, personal communication). The incineration of sludge from the wastewater treatment plant at La Cartuja continues to be a controversial issue in relation to health, efficiency and energy use (Castro 2006). Hence there are significant environmental challenges for both Ecodes and the Council to address.

application of the tax and tariff regime for each City and region. Finally, there is the Local Taxes Act (1988) which applies directly to city water supplies when the local governing body is also the supplier and which further governs the manner in which water charges may be applied within the community (Embid-Irujo 2005). It could be argued that ‘sustainability’ needs to be founded on local precedent and practice which has been honed to meet the precise needs of the people and their pattern of water use. However, sustainability also has to achieve the delicate balance between local traditional practice and the interests of a wider stakeholding such as regional planners. There is therefore continued regulatory tension between local, national and international legislation.

There are three main pieces of legislation governing water codes and statutes in Spain relevant to the situation in Zaragoza (Garrido et al. 2004): (a) The Spanish Constitution (1978): This provides for: (i) The revaluation of public property on all water resources (Article 132). (ii) The explicit concern for the environment (Article 148.9). (iii) The structural and territorial organisation of water administration competences, under which the State (National Government) takes on all administrative and management tasks of all interregional basins (Article 149.1.22). (b) European Union Water Framework Directive (2000): This contains a series of principles affecting water policies in all Member States in areas such as water tariffs, demarcation of river basins, water quality and hydrogeological plans. (c) The Law of the National Hydrological Plan (2001): The Spanish Water Law 2001 (NHP) (Plan hidrologico nacional 2001) can be considered a modern and comprehensive water code covering all issues related to water policies, organisation, procedures, finance, civil works, planning and public participation. The Plan consolidates all planning decrees pertaining to each of the interregional basins, and lays down the basic principles of water planning at national level. In addition to these main instruments of law, there are numerous local water laws in each Autonomous Region more directly related to the specific hydro-geological environment. These can vary significantly because they are often based on ancient precedent. It is the interpretation of a matrix of these laws which in turn leads to the

Zaragoza is an important case study for the following reasons: (1) The theme of ‘Water Saving City’ was precipitated by an NGO. (2) The water and wastewater provision is owned and largely operated by the Municipality (albeit the latter under a BOT scheme) enabling the Council to react to the initiative within a reasonably short time frame. (3) A concerted effort was made by all sectors of the community to conserve water resulting in a significant reduction in consumption. (4) A workable tariff system has now been achieved which is arguably fair to all. (5) There is a balance or compromise to be struck between local and nationally applicable water law. (6) A PESTER has been completed to systematically assess the key factors influencing the sustainability of the approach taken in Zaragoza, and these are further discussed. The Political and Regulatory landscapes in Zaragoza are of particular interest because of the interaction at local, national (less so) and EU levels of the different players and the agendas they are pursuing. It should be noted that despite a change of political regime, Zaragoza Council remains committed to the inherited programme of tariff reform and infrastructure improvement. This dovetails with the NGO initiative to save water. This long-term cross-party approach can only be beneficial for ‘sustainability’. From the social perspective the water-saving programme is relatively inclusive of all sectors of the community, with the continued availability of the resource being the main driver. The economic situation is entirely based on tariff income, although there are questions as to

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how the infrastructure renewal programme will be funded if the revenue income falls significantly short of the capital investment requirement. Zaragoza has access to both skilled personnel and the technical equipment required to conserve water without causing social unrest in so doing. ´ Aragon is an environmentally sensitive area, particularly with regard to water. Hence its resources need careful husbandry, especially in the knowledge that the future projected population of the City might rise to 1 million. The ‘water footprint’ of Zaragoza has regional influence and will in future be drawn into the mountain zone. The key lesson to be drawn from the case study of Zaragoza is that in order to achieve significant change, it is vital to harmonise the energies, the finances and above all the commitment of all parties to collaborate in the task in hand.

Appendix A – water tariffs in Zaragoza
The return from charging for water – the tariff – is the core of the income for running the water services supply in Zaragoza. There are a number of philosophical and economic parameters which are applied to the formulation of a tariff structure, and these are outlined in this ‘Appendix 1’. However, due to wider interests, both regional and national, water pricing is a contentious subject as to whether the economic returns from the service provision should contribute to schemes not directly associated with the City of Zaragoza, and indeed vice versa. Whilst the ‘degree of compliance with the payment of the regulation charge and water tariffs is known to be much higher in the Ebro catchment area, there is constant legal wrangling with attempts in many cases to establish the setting of specific tariffs in order to reduce if possible the corresponding payments’. (Embid-Irujo 2005).

The authors would particularly like to acknowledge the ´ unstinting assistance of Marisa Fernandez Soler (Director ´ of the Water Programme), Fundacion Ecolog´a y Desarı rollo (Ecodes) and Joaqu´n Garc´a Lucea (Director of ı ı Taxes and Prices Unit of Zaragoza Council), and to thank them among others at Ecodes and the Ayuntamiento, for their time and the provision of information for the compilation of this paper.

All water pricing in Spain is based on first principles: (1) Water is a public service. (2) Water is a ‘good’ of primary necessity. There are three additional fundamental principles: (1) To eliminate waste of water. (2) That the cost of provision of service is fully covered by the tariff. (3) Disconnection is now allowed for persistent nonpayment of water bills. The optimum methods of providing an efficient water supply are by: 1) Ensuring adequate investment from both public and private sectors. 2) Providing water fit for the purpose – use of ‘green water’ (Green water is defined as nonpotable water which may be derived from a variety of sources such as rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling or groundwater abstraction, but is treated to a minimum standard for use in domestic premises or where it might come into direct contact with humans.) for nonpotable applications particularly in industry and green space irrigation is to be considered. (3) Fitting efficient water delivery technology, especially for conservation. (4) Encouraging social ‘engagement’ through a series of actions covering information and dialogue initiated by the Council. (5) Stimulating an attitude of water efficiency largely through price control.

Castro, J. (2006) 3rd Foro Permanante de Agua y Sostenibilidad, Zaragoza (Personal communication). Earth Summit. ’92: The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 2006. Embid-Irujo, A. (2005) Water Pricing in Spain. Int. J. Water Resour. Dev., 21 (1), 31–41. ´ Garrido, A., Iglesias, A., Garrote, L., Moneo, M., Gomez, A., ´ ´ Flores, F., Cubillo, F., Ibanez, J.C., Fernandez, M. and ´ ´ Lapena, A. (2004) Spain. CIHEAM Options Mediterraneennes ˜ Ser. B, 51, 131–154. Iglesias Ricou, M. (2003) Foreword. Int. J. Water Resour. Dev., 19 (3), 347–349. Kaivo-oja, J., Katko, T.S. and Seppala, O.T. (2004) Seeking for Convergence Between History and Futures Research. J. Policy Planning Futures Stud., 36, 527–547. ´ Plan hidrologico nacional (2001) Act10/2001. Rivernet [online] (2004). Seas Only Hope for World Water Supply, Says Spain (Reuters). about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/news/news.cfm?uNewsID=14770. Accessed 10.12.2006. ´ Vinuales Edo, V. and Fernandez Soler, M. Zaragoza (2003) 50 ˜ ´ Examples of Efficient Water Use in the City. Ecodes (Fundacion Ecolog´a y Desarrollo), Zaragoza. ı

Water and wastewater pricing
Domestic Customers are billed quarterly for water and wastewater services. Industrial/Nondomestic customers

c c Water and Environment Journal (2008) 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 CIWEM.

Sustainability of water management in Zaragoza

C. Shirley-Smith et al.

are billed monthly. The domestic tariff arrangements are based on the two principles of financial equity as agreed by the CHE, which are:  Horizontal Equity in which ‘the beneficiary can be proportional to the consumption’, and  Vertical Equity in which ‘it is necessary to establish different tariffs for different uses’. The application of the tariff code is also designed to be as cost effective as possible to administer. But, nonetheless it has not been a simple system. However, it is in the process of quite radical simplification which will be effective from 2007. Water bills contain charges for both water supply and wastewater services. The water tariff is ‘binomic’ – i.e. it contains two components: the fixed tariff and the variable tariff. Additionally, it distinguishes between domestic and nondomestic uses. Within each tariff there are prices for water supply and wastewater treatment. Most metered customers pay for both services which are provided by the Council. 

Water supply: 0.077h/day.  Wastewater treatment: 0.05h/day.  Total: 0.127h/day (equivalent to 3.80h/month).

Variable tariff
There are three levels of block tariff, each higher than the next. This applies both to supply and wastewater. Level 1 has a budget price to allow adequate access for all. Level 2 has a price equivalent to the cost of production. Level 3 has a ‘penalty’ price to discourage wastage and encourage conservation. The charges for Levels 1 and 2 include the consumption of up to six persons (at an estimated 2.5 m3/person/ month) thus ensuring that they are unlikely to be caught in the Level 3 charges. Hence the prices are:  Level 1 (first 6 m3/month): 0.333h (combined water/ wastewater 0.16/0.17h,respectively).  Level 2 (the next 12.5 m3/month); 0.799h(combined, 0.39/0.41h).  Level 3 (above 18.5 m3/month): 1.6h/month (combined 0.78/0.82h).

Fixed tariff (2007 prices)
Standing charge based on the diameter of the meter. From 2007, a client on a 20 mm supply will pay:


c c Water and Environment Journal (2008) 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 CIWEM.