On 25 September, the Argentinian Water Supply Company, AySA, the Dutch companies, Royal HaskoningDHV and TRAIDE, and water research institute KWR signed a cooperation agreement to launch ‘LEAF’. This two-year project is focused on a Low Energy Arsenic Free (LEAF) water supply, and will pilot innovative drinking water supply technologies in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires, as well as upscale them for implementation elsewhere in Argentina. The project is funded by the Dutch Partners for Water programme, which supports water management initiatives in urbanised deltas around the world, by stimulating the testing of new technologies and methods in real-scale pilots, as well as the contributions of project partners.
Arsenic contamination of drinking water is an issue of national concern in Argentina. The most affected region is the Chaco-Pampean plain. This region is densely populated, so that arsenic contamination of groundwater poses a serious risk to a large population who rely on groundwater as a source of drinking water. In the National Water Plan (Plan Nacional del Agua de Argentina), the Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Policy, Pablo Bereciartua, refers to the supply of good quality drinking water as one of the main objectives. Accordingly, studies to lower arsenic threshold levels in drinking water from 50 to 10 µg/l (WHO guideline) are currently underway. The development of a cost-effective arsenic-removal system for drinking water supply is considered essential to reduce the health hazards of arsenic, such as (skin, lung and bladder) cancer and neurotoxicity.
More water with less energy
The cost of electricity is a major component of the total operational costs of water supply systems in Argentina. This applies in particular to the arsenic-removal treatment systems currently used in the country, and to the distribution of drinking water from the three large surface water treatment plants operated by AySA; the company is one of the largest consumers of electricity in Argentina. The high electricity consumption related to the water provision, the rapidly increasing costs of electricity, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants, demand the development of more energy-efficient arsenic-removal and drinking water supply systems.
José Inglese, Chairman of the Board at AySA, says that the LEAF project will contribute to improved water quality and reduced operational costs, and will consequently provide better access to clean drinking water to more users in Argentina, in line with the goals set in the National Water Plan.
AySA is the main beneficiary of the LEAF project and, as Argentina’s leading water and sanitation utility, has the technical expertise to host a pilot on innovative arsenic treatment, and apply Aquasuite software to reduce energy and operational costs. AySA will act as a frontrunner in piloting and implementing new arsenic treatment and energy efficiency technologies. Other water supply companies participating in the LEAF project, such as the Water Supply Companies of the Buenos Aires Province (ABSA) and the Water Supply Company of Santa Fe Province (ASSA) are expected to follow, supported by the National Directorate of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Royal HaskoningDHV will develop and carry out a pilot on the supply, installation, support and testing of the Aquasuite operational control software. TRAIDE will, in turn, carry out the financial analysis, and prepare an Investment and Financing Plan for the implementation of LEAF water supply and Aquasuite-controlled water supply operations in Argentina.
KWR is lead partner and responsible for overall project coordination and management, the arsenic-removal pilot test design and supervision of the pilot operation. The knowledge and experiences from this project will also be brought into the international Watershare network, of which both AySA and KWR are members.