First water monograph | Óscar Ruiz Chicote

New projects are exciting. And this one is. We have entered 2023 with a new initiative. We are launching the first issue of a series of monographs in which we aim to analyse challenges, knowledge, trends and experiences, through professionals and experts, linked to the application of technology in the management of infrastructures linked to sectors such as water, energy, industry and cities.

The water is the central theme of this first publication. It is an indisputable fact that climate change is no longer silent and technology is helping to design and build a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable world. On this path, moving towards digital transformation means improving water and wastewater services, and making the right use of the value of data is the key to developing more efficient water resource management and better decision making.

In this sense, we understand that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be achieved with joint solutions that contribute to changing the current paradigm. Assimilating that there must be collaboration between private companies and public administrations involved in the management of the entire water life cycle becomes essential in the whole process. A process in which technology becomes an indispensable tool.
This project motivates us, because it is an opportunity to talk about digital transformation and because, like everything else in life, it means moving forward.

It implies taking a step forward. From Elliot Cloud we will continue to analyse the current situation of the different sectors through their protagonists and we will make known new technologies that help to digitise infrastructures, to optimise their different processes, to dynamise the business fabric and to improve the service to citizens. To all the people who have participated in this publication, to those who will collaborate, to those who read us, to those who trust us, and to those who believe and believe in the project, thank you for accompanying us on this journey.

First water monograph : Guillermo Pascual Gisbert

Thanks to public policies to promote the data economy, which boost the technological modernisation of infrastructures and supply networks, the water sector has a clear opportunity to improve the services provided by the urban water cycle management companies.

At Agbar we are focusing our efforts on developing highly resilient systems, capable of providing water in quality and quantity for different needs: agriculture, industry and cities. We are doing this through Dinapsis, the network of digital transformation hubs for water management, environmental health and the ecological transition of the territory.

At the Dinapsis centres we develop new solutions combining expert knowledge with new digital technologies, seeking to optimise environmental management. This combination is what we call operational intelligence, and is applied to various fields such as the remote reading of water consumption, the digital transformation of treatment plants, or the contribution to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, among others.

All of this, guaranteeing data security (availability, integrity and confidentiality) through prevention, cybersecurity, commitment to responsible data management and a governance model that safeguards data quality.

This strategy is part of Agbar's commitment to sustainable development and innovation, and of its ongoing commitment to digital transformation and the digitisation of processes to streamline management and continue moving towards circular growth models that are more environmentally friendly.

The data economy in Agbar's digital transformation strategy

Climate change, the main challenge we face as a society, has a direct implication for water management. Rising temperatures alter rainfall patterns and increase the frequency of extreme weather events, both in the form of torrential rainfall and drought episodes.

More and more territories - our country clearly among them - will be vulnerable to droughts and water scarcity.
For all these reasons, we in the water sector are focusing our efforts on developing highly resilient systems, capable of providing water in quality and quantity for different needs: agriculture, industry and cities.

The application of technology to water management is essential to meet this challenge. At Agbar, we are committed to the incorporation of new technologies and the data economy, which, together with advanced knowledge of the operation, allows us to completely transform the management of the water and environmental cycle, increasing efficiency in the provision of these services and improving the performance of all the assets that form part of the infrastructures, with the aim of being able to guarantee supply in this context of growing water stress.

We are in a process of water transition that will have to be accompanied by an eco-digital transformation in water management, in which data management is a key element for its success.

Dinapsis Digital Transformation Hubs in Spain


To this end, Agbar is promoting the creation of the Dinapsis digital transformation hubs, and already has 9 of them throughout Spain.

In addition, they are committed to co-creation and alliances to establish synergies, applying the knowledge acquired and collective creativity. The Dinapsis hubs thus make it possible to scale and adapt digital solutions to the real needs of each territory in terms of sustainable water management, the environment and environmental health, facilitating optimal resource management.

The Dinapsis network deploys benchmark digital solutions for the digital transformation of water management and the environmental health of territories, promoting the development of smart, resilient and green cities".

From these centres we develop new solutions combining expert knowledge with new digital technologies, seeking to optimise environmental management. This combination is what we call operational intelligence. The Dinapsis hubs, whether for water cycle activity, for cities or for industry, draw on the diversity and volume of data stored over several decades, as well as Agbar's experience in processing them to calibrate each and every one of the artificial intelligence algorithms we apply.

As an example, it is worth mentioning that in the water networks we manage we have a high level of sensorisation (there are more than 6,000,000 connected IoT objects), generating and managing some 15 terabytes of data daily. Another relevant aspect to highlight is the contribution of Agbar's data economy to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, through Agbar's Dinapsis Environmental Indicators Platform: a tool to support the digitisation of the Spanish Urban Agenda in the municipalities that implement it. This platform, which is fed by satellite information processed with specific algorithms, facilitates decision-making and is a key tool for improving the environmental health and habitability of the territories.

Through digitalisation, it is possible to measure and continuously monitor the positive or negative impacts generated by the different lines of action of the Urban Agendas of our cities and, therefore, to calibrate or redirect their objectives when the effect is not as expected. These digital Urban Agendas will facilitate a kind of benchmarking process between different cities with similar characteristics, contributing directly to sharing best practices and, therefore, to accelerating the processes of green and ecological transition towards a true scenario of sustainability.

More than 250 automated indicators allow the public manager to have the data always updated and on the same platform, facilitating constant verification of the level of compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda, which allows planning and/or improving infrastructures; defining sustainability strategies (Smart City); designing the Spanish Urban Agenda for the municipality; improving access to Next Generation Funds; fulfilling the environmental commitments set by the European Union; and demonstrating good environmental management to the public.

Another essential aspect is prevention. The digital data collection and processing systems with which we operate are essential to ensure maximum efficiency of action in the face of possible climate crises in cities. Thus, thanks to the data provided and processed in real time, the authorities have all the information they need to make the best decisions. The operational intelligence of Dinapsis' solutions is essential to create resilient cities, capable of withstanding crisis episodes.

In all its different aspects, Dinapsis is part of Agbar's commitment to sustainable development and innovation, and its ongoing commitment to digital transformation and the digitisation of processes to streamline management and continue moving towards circular growth models that are more respectful of the environment.

Secure, unified, accessible and open data

Ensuring data security is a key factor in building the Digital Economy. And data security is based on prevention: data is increasingly decentralised and security must always go hand in hand with data. Perimeter measures are no longer enough; cybersecurity must be based on identity and protection from the point of access to it.

The development of the Data Economy implies great challenges in terms of cybersecurity that require the protection of the information processed, stored and transported by the systems, and the treatment of threats. Establishing mechanisms for securing storage and monitoring transition channels through the controlled management of permissions and access keys are essential to prevent data loss, malicious access, unauthorised use and data corruption.

Agbar has protocols and a cybersecurity plan that guarantees the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data. It is prepared to identify and respond to cyber-attacks. When it comes to personal data, data protection is not a one-off action. It is a continuous commitment of the organisation to responsible data management, with compliance with standards in a constant evolution towards the protection of individuals' privacy in the new context of data relations.

The current regulatory framework at European level in the field of personal data protection, consisting of the European Data Protection Regulation and the National Organic Law on Data Protection, is based on a proactive or "risk-based approach" that is deployed in a preventive manner with a very precise purpose: to guarantee the rights and freedoms of data subjects from the definition of a processing activity to its further development. And, to this end, an important principle to bear in mind: that of "Privacy by design and by default". Agbar has assimilated privacy and data protection principles as the default mode of operation within its business model and from the conception of any type of processing in a clear commitment to the long-term trust of its customers.

Agbar has protocols and a cybersecurity plan that guarantees the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data.

Another of the key pieces of the data economy at Agbar is the governance model that regulates the processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities within the scope of data management. Agbar's data management environment brings those responsible for each area closer to the management and treatment of data with an active role in the creation of products and services through a datahub: a centralised repository that systematically allows the extraction, modelling, storage and distribution of activity data, in which having continuously updated data in an analytical space allows the integrated management of data independently of the operational systems that create them. Data management involves the expansion of specialised roles and professions in the organisation: managing its ownership, quality, privacy, as well as rethinking the data lifecycle through corporate processes. These include the functions of the data steward (guardian of the quality of the information) and the data owner (specialist reference in the process or field in question).

In this process of Agbar's digital transformation, a firm commitment has been made to the implementation of AGILE methodologies in the creation of any service and process of the organisation.

The participation of data user units in all phases of data design, development and exploitation together with technical teams (developers and specialists such as Data Scientists or Data Architects) has allowed the implementation of new methodologies and much more efficient processes also improving data quality and access and security policies.

This data governance and management model provides a single, near real-time source of facts before they are processed from all the organisation's internal and external systems and processes, facilitating the creation of dashboards, analytical models, artificial intelligence algorithms, digital twins and decision support systems models from the raw data.

Data scientists, in turn, have a simple system for quickly accessing data for research and building new models, training machine learning algorithms and building digital models.


Data governance and management model


This approach to data management at Agbar allows for the following:

  • Single source of events disaggregated from operational processes and obtained on a continuous basis.
  • A complete data model of the entire organisation relating data to each other at a high level of granularity.
  • A platform for the development and delivery of data products and services accessible to internal and external users.
  • An environment to audit and manage data quality, define usage policies and have processes in place to ensure and improve data quality.
  • The availability of frequently updated indicators for decision making in any organisation and process.

Thus, Datahub becomes a source of data consumption with a transversal function to which all Agbar professionals have access to improve decision-making in their management area. And it is also a viewing window open to customer administrations. For this reason, each use case included in the platform has data and indicators that can be analysed at different granularities that respond to the level of detail required for each decision making process. These levels of visualisation can be summarised as follows:

  • Visualisation Level 1 ? Operational: This level displays the indicators necessary for a service manager and his team to facilitate the correct management of their installation or activity. At this level we can have the maximum granularity and temporality of the data and indicators, for example, granularity of analysis by asset and with hourly or immediate analysis timeframes.
  • Visualisation Level 2 ? Tactical: This level displays the indicators necessary for a manager of several facilities with aggregated information on them. It allows adequate on-line supervision of the operational status of each of the facilities managed, with emphasis on the main management indicators.
  • Visualisation Level 3 ? Strategic: This level displays the most relevant indicators that management needs to know in order to monitor the good operational status of all facilities.
    The detail is even less detailed than level 2, focusing on indicators that carry a higher risk or management cost.

This evolution of the organisation to take charge of the data and its value contributes progressively to the optimisation of processes and the obtaining of new values that have not been exploited until now. Furthermore, all technological and process-level advances need to be accompanied by appropriate change management, given that people are an essential part of the company's transformation process. To this end, Agbar applies initiatives that promote a work philosophy in the teams based on the application of continuous improvement dynamics (lean management applied to operations), so that good visual and indicator-based management practices are naturally integrated into the daily routines of the teams. At the same time, they are a fundamental mechanism for involving all staff in the continuous improvement cycle, capitalising on talent through the generation of ideas for improvement that are incorporated into action plans, and from which feedback is given to the teams. In this way, the continuous improvement cycle is kept alive and active, while at the same time facilitating, organising and optimising the activity of the services provided.

First water monograph : José Manuel Bruzos

These challenges require new approaches to integrated water cycle management: the implementation of advanced metering infrastructures, the creation of digital twins, the use of geographic information systems and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly common in the improvement of the water lifecycle and will certainly become indispensable in the future.

These new tools share a common problem: the need to retrieve and manage a large volume of data originating from totally heterogeneous systems and environments. Until now, each of these tools was responsible for managing its data autonomously, creating numerous information silos and making it impossible to obtain the maximum value from the data. Graphenus was born to solve this problem, providing a platform that allows the unification of all the data needs of these tools, defining data spaces that facilitate governance and ensure interoperability and total scalability:

  1. Graphenus allows the discovery and incorporation of information from any source: measurement systems, APIs, databases, etc.
  2. Data hosted in Graphenus can scale infinitely: there is no need to delete historical measurement data, which can easily be used in the creation of analytical and AI-based models.
  3. It has distributed processing capabilities to meet both real-time and batch needs.
  4. It incorporates end-to-end governance capabilities, allowing security and quality policies to be defined at the lowest level of detail.
  5. Graphenus enables the integrated creation of machine learning models on the data hosted in the system, facilitating their training, publication and updating.
  6. Graphenus is fully interoperable with other systems, thanks to GAIA-X compatibility. Graphenus allows data sharing with private companies or public entities in a totally secure and scalable way.

In addition, thanks to the native integration with Elliot Cloud and its solution Smart WaterThe new system, allows exponentially increasing the speed of development of advanced use cases for water management, enabling the detection of leaks and fraud; and the development of digital twins for supply networks, water treatment plants, valves, etc. It also facilitates proactive management of the quality of drinking and operational water for fleets and maintenance services integrated in our distribution network; it enables environmental impact assessments, as well as smart adduction.

Graphenus system integrated into Elliot Cloud platform

Example of functional structure of use cases and relationship to base architecture elements


Graphenus: data at the service of water resources

Data plays a crucial role in water management. Having a platform such as Graphenus will allow companies and public bodies to completely transform current management processes, improving efficiency and facilitating decision making. Graphenus provides a functional and technical architecture proposed to cover the needs specified by companies in the sector to create data lakes or shared data spaces at a very low cost, as it is not developed with licensed tools. The Graphenus solution model includes a set of tools for data capture, storage, processing, exploitation and consultation.

Graphenus provides a platform for defining data spaces that facilitates governance and ensures full interoperability and scalability?

of large volumes of data. Integration in Elliot Cloud makes it possible to ingest data from different sources, store them in a reliable and fault-tolerant way, perform complex analytics on them, both in batch (batch processing) and streaming (real-time processing), ensure the persistence of a data model through the creation of databases and tables, or develop predictive and classification models on them, i.e. machine learning processes, for subsequent consultation and exploitation.

To meet these needs, the platform encompasses different services and/or tools that allow us to perform these tasks. Most of these tools have been built on containers (orchestrated with Docker Swarn) with their minimum and necessary components for their operation, in such a way that we have a modular architecture of the tools, easily deployable, scalable and versionable, as well as being tolerant to failures or crashes of the nodes in which they are deployed, thus assuming a high availability environment.

All these tools are open source and widely used in the Big Data field, most of them belonging to the Apache project (which has a large, very active and collaborative community), which have been configured, customised and adapted to work together and integrated in a container environment across different nodes.

First monograph on water : Enrique Cabrera

Enrique Cabrera has been a member of the International Water Association (IWA) since 2002, has been a council member from 2012 to 2022, vice-president of the association for four years (2018-2022) and chairman of the board of IWA Publishing since 2013.
In addition, he has been a Professor at the Universitat Politécnica de Valencia since 1999 and has held the Chair of Fluid Mechanics since 2017.
He combines this work with consultancy work on numerous national and international projects in the efficient management and operation of urban water systems.

The International Water Association (IWA) is an open but orderly platform where both innovators and adopters of new technologies and approaches can generate creative friction. It is a place for dissemination, benchmarking and evidence. Its programmes develop research and projects focused on water and wastewater management solutions, organising world-class events that bring the latest science, technology and best practice to the water sector at large, and working to put water on the global political agenda and influence best practice in regulation and policy making through IWA's global membership.


First of all, could you tell us what motivated you to join IWA?

I felt that IWA was a good place to be in contact with professionals in the water sector and it has always been so. In fact, I have always
I started to take on responsibilities very early on, which has given me access to many working groups and ground-breaking research.

And how do you think the digitalisation process in the water management sector has been since you started your professional life until now?

I think it has been progressive, there have been several lines of work that have been converging and, together with the maturity of the sector, have led to this moment in which the climate is very suitable for progress and improvement in this sense. For example, operators have been digitising for more than 25 years with the first GIS and SCADA. Simultaneously and gradually, the use of the first mathematical models became popular, as well as greater and better advances in the processing capacity of computers, the possibility of cloud computing, etc. If we add to this adequate marketing, we are at the ideal moment to maintain lines of work for continuous digital improvement in the field of water networks.

Do you think that the term digital has suddenly arrived to denote something that is already known, but was previously called something else, such as smart?

It's not really the same, because people don't perceive it in the same way, but they are very similar concepts. It has changed for example in that we now have new data aggregator platforms; these tools collect a lot of data, arrange it in an attractive way, so that it can be used for something useful and eye-catching. They generally run in the cloud and make it easy and affordable for almost anyone to use.

On the other hand, models used to be a complicated technology, distant for almost all users; now they can almost be built without much prior knowledge or experience. Data is now used for many things; it used to be collected, but little used, for very marginal applications, and is gradually being applied to many more processes and tools. However, I believe that artificial intelligence processes, at least as applied to water networks, have not reached full maturity and still have some way to go.

What do you think of replacing mathematical models with sets of data series that are related to each other and obtain new forecasts?

Well, in reality these are also models, it's the same thing. But instead of a physical model, it's a statistical model, a black box. Because the equations of physics are not perfect, but I know how they work and they are always the same; whereas in models in which statistics are applied, the results will depend on the ability of those who build them to find relationships between variables, on the significance of these relationships and on the quality of the data used.

Do you think it is worth spending the time and resources to build a model in great detail?

In my opinion it is sometimes starting the house from the roof, because the first thing you should do is ask yourself what you want to do with the model or what you need to solve. The problem with water network models is that they are representations of systems that are very difficult to understand in detail because they are buried underground. Nowadays you can build a model with much less effort with the tools we have at our disposal, it is possible to have it in an hour, but then you have to check how good that model is and if it fits properly or helps to solve the problem you have to tackle. But you always have to do a cost-benefit analysis.

In general, depending on the level of maturity of the operator, it is usually a worthwhile investment as it will improve the quality of service.

In your opinion, do studies to find the optimum point of information and detail needed to get a good enough model make sense?

I am not aware of any such public studies, but I am convinced that private companies are already carrying them out. In particular, the ones that have the most capacity to do it are software companies, because they have all the data of their users, but it will be internal research, to better understand the application of their products, and they are not going to publish it externally.

With respect to the level of detail expected from a model, it is clear that, if remote reading data for all meters in the network are incorporated, this can lead to a very reliable characterisation of the network behaviour. What is less clear is that such accuracy is really necessary.

The needs will depend on the level of service to be offered and the price of the service. If the service provided to customers is positioned as premium, it will be very important to use the latest technology available and opt for all the options it offers. But from a purely engineering point of view, sometimes such detailed knowledge is not necessary to operate the network optimally.

Digitalisation has helped to make the operation of networks more efficient, feeding back into their autonomous development," he said.

Do you think there are external factors that have encouraged digitalisation, such as the increase in energy prices?

No, in the case of Spain and in the last year, which is when energy prices have shot up, I believe that what has encouraged it most has been the injection of public money. And, on the other hand, digitalisation in itself has also helped to make the operation of the networks more efficient, feeding back into their autonomous development.

In your opinion, is it appropriate for the administration to collaborate with these natural incentives? Who do you think benefits the most?

It is very beneficial that the administration is committed to digitalisation. In Spain there is no central regulator, so the competences are atomised in the municipalities, making it more difficult to force global change. When we find ourselves in a natural monopoly like this one, where there are no incentives for continuous improvement, programmes such as the PERTE Water Cycle Digitalisation Programme serve to activate the sector, either as an opportunity to capture resources or to improve.

This benefit will depend a lot on how the projects are awarded. I am concerned that it will end up being a typical fund that is spent without a clear technical guideline, without a strategic vision, and I am concerned about the haste to execute this expenditure. If it is used for projects such as the 100% smart meters, which in places where they are very behind in digitisation is probably not the best way to tackle digitisation focused on solving problems, this risk is run. It is true that it will move money in the sector, but it will not have the full impact it could have had. Each project should be associated with a strategic digitisation plan that includes objectives and an investment plan, requesting a timetable of actions to carry it out. This would be the ideal theoretical approach.

Do you think we have always been in a position of digital leadership in water in Spain? Why?

Spain has always been well positioned in water management, right now we are leaders in water management and we have always been in a good position. digitisation of waterbecause of the existing concentration of companies and projects. We have always had leading systems with technology and operation on a par with the best examples in other emblematic places in the world.
However, there is also the other side of the coin: we are more than 8,800 municipalities, with very fragmented management, in which it is not possible for all the technology to reach us. If we are compared to other countries such as the United Kingdom, where water management is grouped in only 10 companies, it is complicated to achieve the same development in all water supplies. We cannot compare, for example, Canal de Isabel II with a small town of 100 inhabitants, for economy of scale. The latter will always be less advanced.

In Spain, globalisation has been good for us, because Spanish companies that had the know-how found it difficult to go abroad, simply because of difficulties in communication, because we were perceived as a less advanced country just because we had a different accent when speaking English. But as the digital revolution is very digital, applications are often screens that can be easily translated, users do not look so much at the origin, which is less visible, as at the usefulness and capacity of the solution.

It has always been the case that the Anglo-Saxon has had a tinge of greater prestige, just for being native in this language, even within research groups, with equal capacities, but in recent years this difference has been diluted.

We must bear in mind that Spain is a country that does not sell itself very well abroad. There are countries that, globally, are dedicated to positioning themselves as leaders in the water, but the quality of our professionals speaks for itself, and we will see if PERTE can give that definitive push.

We are living on borrowed time, for example, in the exploitation of aquifers, we are reaching almost 1,000 metres deep in some of them," he said.

What do you think of digitalisation in irrigation, which accounts for 70% of water expenditure?

Digitalisation is positive in all areas, but the problem we have in Spain is more one of quantity of resources than of technology. In this sense, it is not so much a problem of irrigation, but of governance. A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the modernisation of irrigation. Before, irrigation was done by hand and now it is all drip irrigation and, incidentally, this process may not be optimal from an energy point of view. Spanish irrigation is more efficient than in many other parts of the world.

With climate change there is going to be little water available and we have to learn to prioritise uses, all uses, which is a political problem. Just as there is not enough money to spend as much as we would like on education or health, there is not going to be enough water for everything.
We are living on borrowed time, for example, in the exploitation of aquifers, which are reaching a depth of almost 1,000 metres in some of them. The only thing that can be done, apart from being more efficient, is to prioritise uses and we have to accept this. On the coast there will be expensive water based on desalination, but in the interior there is not enough water for everything and we have to plan, we cannot have, in addition to irrigation, huge urbanisations, recreational uses, growth in all sectors and everything that is proposed, saying yes to every project.

Do you think digitalisation can help to decide which water uses are most needed, as well as to optimise processes?

Well, it may help to hide behind data, to justify a decision, but I think in the end it has to be a decision taken by people. We can support it with data, but it will always be an ultimate decision of a political nature and one for which we should start educating citizens, because it is not going to be easy.

Right now, those who decide on the use and distribution of water are the Confederations, right?

Yes, they use resource allocation models, allocating the resource among those entitled to use it, not prioritising some uses over others in a clear and strategic way.

In the future, there should be clear mechanisms to be able to deny water to certain projects or to change the allocation already granted to certain uses. This is a very complicated issue, especially considering our citizens' relationship with water throughout history. We have historical rights that have played a very important role and that until now have been immovable.

We are a country with a long tradition in this regard, and in Valencia, for example, there is the Tribunal de las Aguas, with more than 1,000 years of history (the oldest in the world in operation), which is an example of how important water is for us. But precisely because of that importance we have to start thinking that we are not going to be able to maintain the current status quo and that we will have to re-imagine how to manage a resource that is going to become much scarcer.
We will have to start thinking outside the box, because what we have used so far is no longer useful.

Primer monográfico del agua | Paula Junqueira

El consumo eléctrico es indispensable en la gestión y operación de los sistemas de abastecimiento de agua y alcantarillado y genera un gasto operativo considerable. Tanto es así, que el gasto destinado a energía es el segundo o tercer aspecto más importante en el presupuesto de las empresas de saneamiento.

Para Sabesp, la cuarta compañía de saneamiento más grande del mundo, según Milton Tomoyuki Tsutiya, las instalaciones administrativas representan solo el 2% del coste total de la electricidad y las instalaciones operativas de agua y alcantarillado representan el 98%. Se estima que al menos el 90% del coste se debe a las estaciones de elevación de agua.

A este respecto, las iniciativas que promueve la optimización y eficiencia del consumo de electricidad se convierten en prioritarias en las empresas de saneamiento básico y los programas que utilizan innovación y tecnología están en línea con estas iniciativas.

En este contexto y para hacer frente a estos desafíos, en 2021 se comenzó a trabajar en Sabesp el desarrollo de ideas innovadoras utilizando el método ?Design Thinking? como base del proceso. El objetivo de este proyecto fue llegar a un prototipo que contemplara todos los atributos de la innovación, aportando indicadores cuantitativos y la certeza del poder de crecimiento exponencial del proyecto. Así nació el proyecto de eficiencia energética en la gestión de equipos de bombeo en sistemas de suministro de agua.

Evolución hacia el saneamiento 4.0

El proyecto ?Innovative? ha utilizado el concepto de sanitation 4.0 and Elliot Cloud has contributed to achieving the objectives and constant improvement within this initiative.

La finalidad del proyecto ‘Innovative’ ha sido gestionar la activación de las bombas que abastecen a los depósitos con el propósito de ahorrar costes de electricidad. Según estimaciones previas, se conseguiría lograr hasta un 54% de ahorro energético en el momento en el que la tarifa energética estaba más alta.

El proyecto ‘Innovative’ se ha dividido en tres fases:

  1. Predicción del nivel óptimo del depósito de agua en el momento en que las bombas están apagadas.
  2. Predicción del nivel óptimo en el período en que las bombas deben apagarse, en este caso de 18:00 a 21:00 horas. Es decir, la cantidad de agua en el reservorio en el período seleccionado debe ser suficiente para garantizar la disponibilidad de agua para la población.
  3. Predicción del flujo óptimo de las bombas para asegurarse que el depósito esté en un nivel adecuado en el momento en que se apagan las bombas.

En este sentido, las características ideales del sistema de suministro de agua para su aplicación y datos con telemetría del equipo son: el nivel del embalse; las bombas que abastecen depósitos (status on/off); el flujo de entrada del depósito y el flujo de salida del depósito.

?Según estimaciones previas, con el proyecto ?Innovative? se conseguiría lograr hasta un 54% de ahorro energético?

La plataforma permite al usuario observar el nivel del depósito en metros y su variación a lo largo del periodo seleccionado (figura 1). El punto seleccionado, recoge la información del nivel óptimo que debe tener el reservorio a las 18 horas. Esta predicción asegurará el abastecimiento de la población sin la reposición de agua al embalse en el período de 18:00 a las 21:00 horas.

Prevision nivel de reservorio Nova Trieste – Jarinu

Además, se puede observar el flujo de entrada del depósito (verde claro), el flujo de salida del depósito (verde oscuro) y la predicción del flujo de entrada del depósito en tiempo real (línea punteada). La previsión del caudal de entrada del embalse tiene como objetivo asegurar el nivel adecuado del embalse (figura 2) en el momento en que la energía tiene mayor coste, en este caso de las 18:00 hasta las 21:00 horas. La línea vertical gruesa indica una alerta con problemas de datos.

Flujo (entrada/salida) de reservorio Nova Trieste – Jarinu

Asimismo, se muestra una alerta cuando los mecanismos de inteligencia artificial indican que el bombeo no podrá alcanzar el nivel esperado (figura 3).

Alarma de capacidad insuficiente – CRTA nova Trieste

Una vez realizada la predicción de la demanda, la inteligencia artificial y los recursos funcionales disponibles en la plataforma de Elliot Cloud para sistemas de suministro de agua, es posible desarrollar la gestión de los activos. Esto permite optimizar el uso de la energía en los sistemas de suministro de agua, generando ahorro de coste y aumentando así la disponibilidad de recursos financieros para otras inversiones.

Toda esta información se puede gestionar y analizar a través de una solución llamada Elliot Water. No obstante, hay que tener en cuenta que la evolución de estas iniciativas es constante y camina en paralelo con las mejoras que se realizan en el proceso de eficiencia energética a diario.

First water monograph : Javier Ridruejo

The Spanish Network of Smart Cities (RECI) is currently made up of 93 member cities, 44 friendly municipalities and two other associated entities, and the Association of Telecommunications Engineers. All of them make up an ecosystem that contributes to promoting the automatic and efficient management of infrastructures and urban services, as well as the reduction of public spending and the improvement of the quality of services, with which to achieve the progress of cities.

Francisco Javier Ridruejo Pérez is the secretary of the RECI and is currently the general coordinator of Economic Promotion, Technological Modernisation and Professional Knowledge at Logroño City Council. Ridruejo talks about how the application of technology favours the improvement in the management of the integral urban water cycle and contributes to further progress in the objectives of sustainability, conservation of water resources and citizen welfare.

In addition, he explains how shared data spaces and digital twins can become relevant tools for asset management in cities and, in particular, in the water sector.



How do you assess Spain's potential to accelerate the digital transformation process in the water sector?

Spain is one of the most advanced countries in the world in the water infrastructure managementFor example, in irrigation, desalination, transfers between river basins, reservoirs and urban water management in municipalities that multiply their size several times over in the summer, without having capacity problems and correctly managing their entire life cycle: catchment, treatment, storage, distribution, sanitation and reclamation.

In addition, the significant variations that we are beginning to suffer as a result of climate change are leading the country, regions and cities to establish policies for the control and optimisation of this resource, and the modernisation of infrastructures with programmes such as the PERTE del Agua promoted by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge with PRTR funds.

Spain has exported its successful model of infrastructure management, including water management, to other countries and we have in the country major world operators in the sector with our own technology and extensive experience in the sector.

The Spanish Network of Smart Cities (RECI) is a driving force to accelerate this transformation process. Do you consider public-private partnerships to be a key factor for the successful implementation of water digitisation projects?

Of course, public-private collaboration is always desirable, as it is difficult for municipal technicians to keep up to date with all the technologies, tools or best practices existing in the private sector, which has very different rhythms in the development of its solutions. On the other hand, it is always interesting to know the trends and optimisation processes carried out by other administrations supported by companies specialised in the water sector.

We could say that data and information are the keys to success in improving decision-making. How does RECI view the ownership of this data and the transparency and interoperability of the tools used in this transformation process?

We are in the data economy. What we do not measure cannot be improved, so we first need to be able to collect the data, clean it, store it, interpret it and transform it into knowledge in order to make good decisions based on data and not on impressions. Furthermore, taking into account this type of infrastructure and the amount of data that can be generated in real time in a medium-sized municipality, it is important to have data exploitation platforms based on non-SQL technologies or big data distributions such as Cloudera, Graphenus and others that can help a lot in data processing.

On the other hand, it is increasingly necessary for this data to be interoperable with Smart Cities platforms, such as Fiware, Elliot Cloud, Onesait or Telefónica, as these platforms make it possible to correlate the data collected with other city verticals such as energy, environment or irrigation, which is so closely related to water, avoiding peaks in installed power, saving water and optimising the use of resources by municipalities.

The mission of cities is to provide services to their citizens as efficiently and transparently as possible?

In this sense, how does the Administration see the creation of data lakes or shared data spaces for the water sector and other sectors that affect the management of cities?

As long as they have a practical use and a measurable return on investment, they are welcome. The mission of cities is to provide services to their citizens as efficiently and transparently as possible.

Pilots can also be done that do not have to be cost-effective to install, but when these projects are implemented in cities on a large scale, ROI is an important parameter to consider. For example, it does not make sense to install a large network of smart meters with a state-of-the-art communications system to measure consumption in real time and the cost of operating the system is much higher than sending operators by car to check meter by meter.

We know that the technology is ready for the creation of these shared data spaces and that there are innovative solutions in the sector that offer advantages over traditional ones. Do you think that the public administration and its technicians are aware of these innovative solutions and the potential of shared data spaces?

Normally not. In other words, it is necessary to raise awareness among municipal technicians so that they are aware of the different possibilities and take decisions for their implementation, always taking into account the cost/benefit ratio.

As for the potential of data spaces, we are still beginning to see their benefits and there are no large-scale data spaces that are delivering the theoretical results, so it is still a work in progress. The main hurdle we have to overcome is to get companies to commit to putting their information in these data spaces and to obtain information from them for the creation of value-added products. The contribution of data from cities to these data spaces will not be a problem, but it will be a problem for all parties to perceive the added value of this type of infrastructure.

"There needs to be a smart city platform that allows the different services to aggregate, operate and interoperate with each other in a way that makes everything more efficient?

Digital twins are becoming increasingly popular, what are they and how are they used in integrated urban water management?

The digital twin is a virtual infrastructure that simulates a real infrastructure and its operation, so that it represents, on a computer platform, everything that is happening in a real infrastructure, for example, water, in all its stages: catchment, treatment, storage, distribution, sanitation and reclamation.

Vertical smart city platforms typically allow to see the status of infrastructures and monitor them, establish indicators and generate information for decision support. But a digital twin does not stop there. The most advanced ones allow the operation of the infrastructure, even aided by intelligent systems based on artificial intelligence or advanced neural networks; they make it possible to simulate operations before they are performed to see the behaviour of the system before doing them, thus avoiding costly mistakes and favouring semi-automatic monitoring and operation in an ideal state.

So, could we say that digital twins will change the future of water management?

Digital twins will certainly change the way we operate our infrastructures, allow us to simulate unforeseen situations, and introduce artificial intelligence into municipalities, lightening the management of large infrastructures.

And finally, in relation to smart city management, is RECI in favour of integrating different verticals such as urban water cycle management and shared data spaces into horizontal smart city platforms?

Yes, from the Spanish Network of Smart Cities (RECI) we promote the use of technology in the management of municipalities, and given the atomisation of the introduction of technology in the different municipal departments, it is necessary that there is a smart city platform that allows the different services to be aggregated, that allows them to operate. Furthermore, they should interoperate with each other and synergies should be established, so that everything becomes more efficient and simpler in terms of the horizontal management of the city.

Primer monográfico del agua | Eduardo José Remírez Miguel

Los sistemas ?clásicos? de detección de fugas de agua utilizados hasta ahora, tales como ultrasonidos o sistemas de evaluación de desfases, implementados en la red de contadores volumétricos y de presión se revelan como ineficaces, bien para la detección temprana o para la localización precisa. Con el inconveniente añadido que necesitan una gran cantidad de recursos dedicados asociados, tanto humanos como de dependencia energética, para alimentar sensores.

Flight decks

Una forma eficiente de detectar fugas de agua en redes de distribución es utilizar imágenes tomadas desde plataformas de vuelo como satélites o drones. Estas instantáneas pueden proporcionar una visión detallada y a gran escala de la red de distribución lo que permite detectar áreas con anomalías que pueden indicar la presencia de una fuga. Esta técnica posibilita un análisis con un coste reducido y su uso periódico facilita la localización y reparación rápida de las fugas contribuyendo a garantizar la eficiencia y sostenibilidad del suministro de agua.

Existen diferentes plataformas de vuelo que operan en diferentes alturas u órbitas que pueden transportar instrumentos válidos para proporcionar el tipo de fotografías necesarias para la detección de fugas de agua:

  • Satélites (grandes, medianos y pequeños), que normalmente operan en órbitas medias y lejanas.
  • Microsatélites y CubeSats, que habitualmente operan en órbitas bajas (LEO).
  • Drones atmosféricos de ala fija, ala rotativa, multicópteros y dirigibles de metrología.

Imágenes satelitales

Es imprescindible contar con imágenes de alta calidad y resolución para poder detectar las fugas.

Las imágenes de satélites suelen tener una resolución mayor que las tomadas por drones, pero estos últimos pueden proporcionar instantáneas más centradas y detalladas de áreas específicas debido a su capacidad de volar a baja altitud. Las imágenes satelitales suelen ser suministradas por agencias espaciales:

European Space Agency es una agencia espacial que ofrece imágenes deradar de apertura sintética a través de su programa Sentinel. Están disponibles para descargar de forma gratuita a través del portal de datos de la ESA.


The Agencia Japonesa de Exploración Aeroespacial (JAXA, por sus siglas en inglés) ofrece imágenes de radar de apertura sintética a través de su web en la sección de ?datos y productos de investigación?, disponibles para su descarga.


Los principales instrumentos que van embarcados a bordo de las aeronaves y que permiten la obtención de imágenes de calidad válidas para la detección de fugas son principalmente de dos tipos:
Las cámaras NIR (Near Infrared) tienen capacidad para detectar cambios en la temperatura de la superficie y para obtener imágenes, utiliza la radiación infrarroja cercana, invisible al ojo humano. Estas cámaras pueden tener un peso y un tamaño contenido, por lo que son ideales para ser embarcadas a bordo de microsatélites, CubeSats y drones.

El radar de apertura sintética SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) es una técnica de radar que también se puede utilizar para detectar fugas de agua en redes de distribución. Dispone de una antena que transmite señales de radar de alta frecuencia y, posteriormente, recibe las señales reflejadas de los objetos en el área de escaneo. El SAR es capaz de proporcionar imágenes de alta resolución y tiene la ventaja de poder operar independientemente de la luz ambiental, lo que es de gran utilidad para la detección de fugas en áreas oscuras o cubiertas. Se utiliza habitualmente en aplicaciones de detección en tuberías enterradas, ya que puede detectar cambios en la resistencia eléctrica del suelo debido a la presencia de agua.

El agua es un conductor de electricidad y, por lo tanto, afecta la resistencia eléctrica del suelo donde se encuentra. Al detectar estos cambios en la resistencia eléctrica, el SAR puede proporcionar imágenes precisas y así determinar la ubicación y el tamaño de la fuga.

Además, también puede detectar cambios en el contenido de agua en el suelo, lo que puede ser útil para supervisar redes de distribución de agua superficial. Para detectar cambios en la resistencia eléctrica del suelo, el SAR utiliza una técnica llamada ?radar de penetración en el suelo con polarización? (Ground Penetrating Radar with Polarization, GPR-P). El GPR-P trabaja en una amplia gama de frecuencias, generalmente entre 100 MHz y 3 GHz. La selección de la frecuencia adecuada depende del objetivo de la medición y del tipo de suelo. Por ejemplo, se utilizan frecuencias bajas para detectar objetos y anomalías profundas en el suelo y frecuencias más altas para detectar anomalías próximas a la superficie.

SAR Scheme

leak detection


Humedad en los cultivos mediante teledetección

El Índice de Sequía de la Vegetación NDMI, (Normalized Difference Moisture Index) es un buen ejemplo de cómo actúan estos instrumentos para obtener una medida de la cantidad de agua presente en la vegetación. Se calcula utilizando imágenes de satélite que miden la reflectividad de la tierra en diferentes longitudes de onda. Se basa en la idea de que la vegetación seca refleja más luz en las longitudes de onda infrarrojas cercanas y menos luz en la longitud de onda visible. Por lo tanto, cuando la vegetación está más seca, el NDMI aumenta.

El NDMI se utiliza para monitorear la sequía y evaluar el estado de la vegetación en diferentes regiones.

leak detection

Es importante tener en cuenta que la espectroscopia del infrarrojo cercano (NIR) y el radar de apertura sintética (SAR) son herramientas y se deben utilizar junto con otras técnicas y métodos para confirmar la presencia de una fuga y determinar la mejor forma de repararla. Por ello, una vez obtenidas las imágenes, hay que procesarlas y analizarlas para detectar posibles anomalías.

Algunas de las señales que pueden indicar la presencia de una fuga son el aumento de la humedad del suelo o el crecimiento excesivo de vegetación en áreas donde no se esperaría. También se suelen detectar cambios en el color o la temperatura de la superficie que pueden ser indicativos de una fuga.

Tras detectar una posible fuga, siempre es necesario enviar a un equipo de investigación al lugar para verificarla y determinar la causa. Esto puede incluir la revisión de la infraestructura de la red de distribución mediante el uso de equipos de detección de flujo que pueden medir la velocidad y dirección del flujo de agua en una tubería y también es prescriptiva la realización de pruebas de presión en la red.

Algunos de los equipos de detección de fugas involucran el uso de gas (helio) mediante una técnica conocida como ?ensayo de presurización con helio?.

En este método, se inyecta el gas en la tubería o el sistema de distribución de agua y luego se utiliza un detector para descubrir la presencia de helio en el área donde se sospecha que hay una fuga.

Elliot Early Water Leaks Detection System EEWLDS

Elliot Cloud desarrolla un procedimiento en frontera de tecnología basado en imágenes multiespectrales y algoritmos propios de tratamiento y depuración para ofrecer a sus clientes un sistema de supervisión, descubrimiento y alerta temprana que permita la máxima reactividad frente a un evento de fuga de agua en sus redes de distribución.

  • Obtención de imágenes satelitales del área geográfica involucrada en GIS.
  • Procesado de imágenes satelitales y descubrimiento zonas de riego.
  • Obtención de imágenes DRON de las zonas de riego detectadas.

First water monograph : Domingo Zarzo

Domingo Zarzo Martínez, Technical and R+D+i Director at Sacyr Waterhas more than thirty-four years of experience in the water sector. He has participated in and directed more than seventy desalination projects that have meant more than 15 million m3 per day in constructed facilities for the water cycle sector.

With more than fifteen years of experience, Sacyr Water manages the integral water cycle and the operation of water treatment and transport infrastructures in more than one hundred treatment plants at national and international level.


What are the main technologies being used that will shape the future of sustainable management of the full water cycle?

The trend is clearly to move towards increasing the sustainability of all activities; the reduction of the water and CO2 footprint, the recovery of components, reuse and everything related to the circular economy, the increase in energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies and, of course, digital transformation, which complements the tools to achieve these sustainability objectives.

What objectives have been set in the Innovation and Strategic Projects department of Sacyr Agua?

Our department aims to develop or find in the innovation ecosystem -both internal and external- solutions to the problems of our clients and contracts, as well as the challenges posed by the future of water management and its scarcity. From the department we develop all innovation initiatives within the company, but we also provide technical support in those projects that, due to their size, magnitude, client or country, are strategic for Sacyr Agua.

What role does technology play in achieving them?

Technology is the necessary tool to achieve the objectives of efficiency and sustainability and an accelerator of the technologies and processes applied. In Spain we are making rapid progress in technological development and digital transformation and the injection of European Next Generation funds in calls such as the PERTE for Water Digitalisation will help companies and administrations to advance more quickly towards their digital transformation.

The injection of European Next Generation funds will help companies and administrations to move faster towards digital transformation," he said.

At Sacyr Agua, you work on the Water Positive concept. What does it consist of?

Water Positive arose as an idea to increase efficiency in the use of water resources in industry. We are currently working on its development in a working group within the IDA (International Desalination Association), in which I participate, and in which we want to establish the basis for its determination, certification and perhaps in the future the establishment of a water rights market - similar to CO2 bonds - that allows companies that consume a lot of water to compensate this consumption with water production in other areas or industries that are more in need.

At Sacyr, we have joined the working group from the outset and last year, at corporate level, we also certified our water footprint through ISO 14046 for all Sacyr activities in all the countries where we operate. It has been a very intense job given the size and diversity of the company, the difficulty of calculating direct and indirect water consumption through various systems that also analyse aspects of environmental impact, etc. And to say that, thanks to the desalination and reuse activities of Sacyr Agua, the entire Sacyr Group is positive in terms of water generation, it is Water Positive!

There is no turning back from the digital transformation of the water sector. The use of new technologies increases efficiency in the management of water infrastructures, reduces costs and increases environmental sustainability?

One of the company's pillars of action is water desalination. What is the situation in Spain?

Worldwide, there are some 20,000 desalination plants producing some 100 million m3 of desalinated water per day. The largest producers, as might be expected, are the Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia.

Spain, since the development of the "Water" programme, is the fifth country in the world in terms of installed desalination capacity, with some 5 million m3 of desalinated water per day, which could supply water to a population of some 30 million inhabitants and currently represents 9% of the drinking water supplied in the country, although there are some islands where the percentages can reach almost 100%. It is also worth highlighting the strength of our industry, not only within Spain. Of the 20 largest desalination companies in the world, 8 are Spanish.

At present, the development of new large desalination plants is not expected, but there are plans to expand some of Acuamed's desalination plants, such as Águilas and Torrevieja, and to implement renewable energies for their electricity supply and reduce their CO2 footprint.

So, based on your experience in several desalination projects, what barriers does the sector currently face?

Large desalination projects encounter all kinds of barriers: financial, risks in certain countries, construction, legislative and environmental risks, etc. However, perhaps the greatest current challenge is to change the negative perception of desalination in society and in some administrations, based on prejudices and opinions with no scientific or technical basis. The three typical negative arguments against desalination are: water is very expensive, energy consumption is very high, or that it harms the environment. These are all mere opinions that are not based on reality.

In this respect, I would like to give some figures that give us an idea of these prejudices. For example, the price of desalinated water including amortisation is approximately 1 euro/m3, which is equivalent to 0.001 euro per litre; bottled water is paid at 500-1,000 euro/m3; the energy consumption of a seawater desalination plant is approximately 3 Kw-h/m3. Also, the energy needed to desalinate water for a family of four in a year is equal to the consumption of their refrigerator and that the association of water bottlers declares on its website a consumption of 35 Kw-h/m3 in its activities.

When brine discharge is done correctly, by means of diffusers and prior dilution, there is no difference in salinity within a few metres of the discharge point. And the so-called brine is nothing more than concentrated seawater, with no other chemical or toxic components.

What areas of innovation still need to be developed in order to make further progress in the digitalisation of the management of the full water cycle?

There have been many efforts in the water sector to increase it. digitisation of water resources managementAlthough treatment facilities, such as desalination, purification and drinking water treatment plants are usually highly sensorised facilities, with complex control systems and data collection, there is still much to be done in the water cycle in terms of sensorisation, smart metering, predictive models of consumption and demand, platforms and apps for interaction with citizens, etc.

And if much remains to be done in supply, much more remains to be done in the case of sewerage networks. In both cases - in plants and networks - there is a huge amount of information, but there is a long way to go in data management and the application of intelligence and machine learning to obtain the full potential of this information.

Spain is the fifth country in the world in terms of installed desalination capacity, which could supply water to a population of around 30 million inhabitants".

Sacyr Agua and Elliot Cloud developed the SOS Water project. How has the initiative contributed to improving water resources management?

SOS Water XXI is an ambitious project involving a consortium of eight companies and six university research groups aimed at developing 21st century agriculture, efficient in the use of water resources and energy. The project has been under development for just over a year and includes 35 sub-tasks related to the use of non-conventional resources, the quality of water for irrigation, the recovery of nutrients and other compounds of interest from agricultural drainage and desalination brine, predictive models of water and energy consumption, the effect of extreme weather events on infrastructures, and an economic and environmental study of the solutions. All this with a high technological component such as the use of aerial and underwater drones, development of digital twins, data management platforms, etc.

Is there a lack of projects aimed at combating the impact of climate change and meeting the water needs of agriculture?

Of course. Any project that has an impact on increasing sustainability, mitigating the effects of climate change and efficiency, and on the use of water resources, such as the SOS Water XXI project, in which Sacyr Water and Elliot Cloud are participating, is very necessary, given that we are talking about such important things as food, health, sustainability and climate change, and agriculture is by far the activity that consumes the most water worldwide.

And as already mentioned, the use of new technologies will accelerate the application and efficiency of all technical and process advances, so projects that include new technologies and digital transformation are essential.

The Water Positive concept was born as an idea to increase efficiency in the use of water resources in industry?

How relevant do you see public-private partnerships for the growth and development of the digitalisation of the water cycle?

Public-private collaboration is essential in the management of the water cycle. Specialised companies, in collaboration with the administrations, which are not water specialists but must provide a quality service to citizens, are the best tandem for managing water supply and sanitation.

Specifically, in the case of digitisation, this has been understood in the case of the PERTE for digitisation, where the terms of the call encourage private initiative to lead the proposals, due to its greater flexibility and knowledge of the market and technologies, with the necessary authorisation from the owners of the installations and networks, which are the administrations.

What is the outlook for the water sector in terms of digitalisation and sustainability in the coming years?

There is no turning back from the digital transformation of the sector. The use of new technologies increases efficiency in water infrastructure management, reduces costs and increases environmental sustainability.

In the case of sustainability, apart from increasing energy efficiency, reducing consumption and using renewable energies, there is a growing interest in concepts such as the water footprint, even in sectors totally unrelated to water, such as technology companies.

First monograph on water | Paloma Batanero

It may seem an unsolvable problem for mankind, but as at other times in history, we must face this challenge as it has been faced since the beginning of mankind: with technology, division of labour and cooperation. And we are at the right time to solve it: through the digitisation of the water cycle. On the other hand, the planet's water resources are not increasing, but are constant; moreover, the available water is becoming increasingly polluted if we do not take the necessary measures to prevent it. There are 1.4 billion cubic kilometres of water on Earth. Only 0.2 billion cubic kilometres represent the fresh water available for our consumption.

Water is the most important resource

Water, increasingly regarded as a universal common good, is, along with air, the basis of life. It is therefore not enough to say that it is a natural resource indispensable for survival and health, for food production and economic activities of all kinds, as well as for the well-being of individuals and societies. Water is therefore, a priori, a human right that must be satisfied irrespective of any consideration, including financial ones. In 2002, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)The World Water Forum, doubly forced by the physical scarcity of water and the rising costs of its availability, affirmed that access to a sufficient quantity of safe water for personal and domestic uses is a universal fundamental human right. Therefore, ensuring access to water, with all possible technical advances, is a social responsibility that engineers and managers cannot ignore, through the appropriate management of this resource, making use of all available resources.

Where to act to maximise the hydrological resource

Three aspects of the hydrological cycle can be addressed to ensure security of supply, making it more accessible and affordable to the population:

  • Increase the availability of water resources.
  • Avoid contamination of existing sources.
  • Improve the performance of collection, treatment and distribution infrastructures.

On our planet Earth, the absolute amount of freshwater remains roughly constant, but climate change is altering its distribution, making it more extreme and irregular. We have a similar amount of precipitation, but it is distributed unevenly and is more intense for less time, making it harder to collect and store efficiently, leading to run-off, mixing with unwanted elements and thus contamination. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible, except in very specific cases, to increase the availability of the water resource.

In the 60s to 90s of the last century, a great effort was made in this sense, with the construction of around 800 new large dams in Spain. In total, these provide a capacity of some 56,000 hm3 , compared to the 99,000 hm3/year average contribution received by the rivers and the nearly 30,000 hm3/year necessary to meet all demands3 (67% for crop irrigation)4 5. We are the fifth country in the world after China, the United States, India and Japan in terms of the number of reservoirs. However, this does not prevent us from suffering from water stress, i.e. when more freshwater is used than is available at certain periods or its use is temporarily restricted.

As there are hardly any locations left for new reservoirs, it is only possible to expand the water resource through:

  • Groundwater exploitation: increasingly scarce and at risk of subsidence if aquifers are overexploited.
  • Creation of new desalinated water plants: very costly to obtain both in terms of initial investment and the energy cost of production, and whose waste products can be highly polluting and their disposal harmful to the marine environment.

Global water stress, in % of water consumed in a period of scarcity

water resource

Map of potential global subsidence from groundwater abstraction

water resource

Both processes are already at the limit of their working range, so we cannot count on much growth unless sophisticated systems are applied to fine-tune their operation by collecting and analysing their operating parameters.

Preventing pollution of freshwater sources

If we manage to at least keep existing freshwater bodies clean or even improve the quality of already polluted water, we will be saving a lot in subsequent treatment. It is difficult to quantify the influence of an uncontrolled discharge in a surface watercourse, but the ratio is close to 1:100, i.e. one m3 of polluted water is capable of polluting around 100 m3 of clean water. To avoid this pernicious effect, it is necessary to work on prevention, using the following strategies:

  • Treat the basin holistically, as everything that happens on the surface of the basin affects the basin globally, especially downstream.
  • Include rainfall retention and infiltration systems in the upper part of the basin, through the implementation of sustainable drainage systems. That is, surface, permeable, sometimes vegetated elements, part of the urban-hydrological-landscape structure and prior to the drainage system, designed to filter, retain, transport, accumulate, reuse and infiltrate rainwater into the ground, in such a way that they do not degrade and even restore the quality of the water they manage.
  • Improve the maintenance of drainage systems, so as to ensure their optimal functioning, avoiding breakdowns and unnecessary expenditure of economic resources.
  • Inclusion of purification and filtering systems for water from run-off from major roadways, which have a much greater impact than is generally realised.
  • Carrying out public awareness campaigns to avoid using sanitation and rivers as dumping grounds.
  • Inclusion of storm tanks to store polluted rainwater, preventing its discharge into the natural environment.

Acting on the performance of existing infrastructures

The efficiency of a process is measured as the quantity obtained divided by the theoretical maximum quantity. In the middle of the 20th century, work was done mainly on improving the mechanical efficiency of water collection, treatment and distribution systems, which are already highly optimised in the industrial process. This has led to a reduction in per capita consumption, but there is still room for improvement, and if a reduction from 2 to 5% in five factors is achieved, a reduction of 15% will be achieved. This can make the difference between maintaining a 100% guarantee of supply or applying periodic cuts. Some of these aspects are:

  • In the catchment: Obtaining the optimum mixture from various sources in order to maintain a given chemical composition, pumping rate or treatment.
  • In treatment: Review of the chlorine dosage, taking into account the residence time in the distribution network.
  • In the distribution network: Reduction of leaks and non-revenue water, optimisation of speeds and pressures in the network, adequate sectorisation, operation in the event of breakdowns and programmed outages, quantification of losses in the event of leaks and controlled emptying and subsequent filling, time for re-pressurisation of the network with consumption, in the case of work by tandeos, optimisation and rationalisation of pumping and tank operation, use of load losses to provide micro-electricity use and reduction of the carbon footprint (or of the energy consumed).
  • On water quality: Characterisation of the processes of biofilm formation and removal by changing velocities, optimisation of cleaning campaigns and aeration of the network.
  • In household consumption: Remote meter reading, correlation of demand with external variables such as temperature, special dates, holiday periods or pandemics, tests to adjust demand variation with pressure variation, extrapolation of consumption trends and application to public awareness campaigns to reduce consumption.

Once we have defined the problem and the possible levers for action, we will have to use technology to solve it, now and forever.

First water monograph : José Díaz de Greñu

Water is not an infinite resource and the efficient, rational and sustainable use of water resources is necessary to provide health, quality of life and economic and social development to the citizens of any country. Technological development and increased knowledge about the management of the distribution network have opened up a new paradigm.

In this new scenario, the traditional water supply network, thanks to solutions such as Elliot Water based on IoT, has been transformed into a smart grid that provides a holistic view of operations and enables more automated and efficient management of water cycle infrastructures and processes.

The digitalisation of water management is already a reality and has its raison d'être in the possibilities it offers in the face of climate change, pollution and the continuous increase in population, which threaten both the quantity of water available and its quality, forcing water distribution companies to adapt to a complex environment.

In a context such as the current one, it is necessary to have technological solutions such as Elliot Water prepared to offer a global vision and coverage of the integral water cycle in distribution networks, optimising processes and efficiency thanks to its software. This solution focused on the water sector makes it possible to cover the end-to-end needs of the process, understanding the particularity of each of the aspects of the problem and proposing solutions that are integrated into the ecosystem of a company or administration.

There is no turning back from the digital transformation of the water sector. The use of new technologies increases efficiency in the management of water infrastructures, reduces costs and increases environmental sustainability?

Technology and innovation in the service of water

Elliot Water integrates into a single solution the different infrastructures, assets and systems that make up the operation of the complete water cycle, to cover all the processes involved in the water network: water collection, treatment, distribution, consumption, reservoirs and regeneration. In this way, this platform contributes to minimising the high volume of physical assets and infrastructures that make up the process, which translates into savings in operating costs and in the control of processes to guarantee an efficient and quality service.

For this purpose, a robust and flexible technical architecture based on Open Source, open and transparent tools is available, and a functional architecture as a base in which specific modules are integrated to respond to the problems and needs of water cycle management, relating and orchestrating the management and operations of water distribution companies in a robust and powerful way.

Elliot Water contributes to solving the problems arising from the lack of knowledge of consumption and the state of the supply networks, which helps to solve the economic impact of a negative water balance, high energy and maintenance costs, while at the same time resulting in fewer incidents and water quality control costs.

Integrated water cycle


Technical architecture

Functional architecture


Smart use of data transforms the water cycle

To achieve this, the core of the solution is a data analytics component based on four pillars: the development of an advanced analytical intelligence model that enables the generation of predictive models to anticipate problems and solutions thanks to demand predictions, the development of hydraulic and efficiency models and predictive maintenance.

In turn, the business rules engines - notification that Elliot Water integrates - allow the identification of the incidence in real time and the modularisation by user typology using a low code component for the generation of KPIs, rules and alerts.

Thanks to the complete monitoring of the integral water cycle, it is possible to access a global database of information, both historical and in time, which has been processed and enriched on assets, consumption, forecasts, geolocation and external information. A solution that allows users to integrate all those involved in the process, from the management and control function to the operation function, always oriented towards the needs of each stakeholder.

  • Process optimisation and efficiency
    The solution is supported by software to meet the customer's end-to-end needs.
  • Elliot Water knows the issues and the context in detail
    Thanks to his experience in large international water management companies.
  • Comprehensive solution with a global vision
    Going beyond a particular software or solution.
  • Platform adapted to the needs of each process
    With a focus on the analytical component and efficient operating model.

This is a comprehensive data management platform that allows water managers to digitise their systems to achieve their specific objectives, optimising their operating costs, the management of active energy consumption, the control of fraud, leaks and meter tampering, achieving the compliance with the principles of sustainability and water quality.

Do you want to know
our solution?