The 21st World Water Day was held last week (23 March). It is an annual event organised by the United Nations to raise awareness and promote action around water-related issues. A year ago, to celebrate the occasion, we told you about the importance of water cooperation, as it was the theme of the 2013 edition. This year, the UN chose to focus on the link between water and energy: “Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilization of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources. Conversely, about 8% of the global energy generation is used for pumping, treating and transporting water to various consumers.” This co-dependence means we need to design “integrated approaches and solutions to water-energy issues” that “can achieve greater economic and social impacts.” One such approach has been developed in France, in Évian, in the area around the impluvium of Danone’s water brand evian. The project, called, Terragr’Eau Méthanisation, will be launched in 2015 and will collect and reclaim the waste produced by farm animals, with the aim of generating renewable energy as well as protecting the purity of the water resource.
Develop green energy and protect the resource
As we explained in our report on evian’s impluvium, sustainable management and quality in producing the water resource are at the heart of evian’s work. To take this mission a step further, under the umbrella of APIEME (the Association for the Protection of the Impluvium of evian water, a structure they co-created in 1992), all local stakeholders have recently worked together to design Terragr’Eau Méthanisation. The main thrust of the project is the construction of an anaerobic digestion plant within the catchment area, on the Plateau de Gavot. Construction will start in the first quarter of 2015, and the plant should be operational by the end of that year. The project, which has been initiated with the support of 41 farmers on the Plateau de Gavot, who occupy 63% of the catchment area’s surface, will provide access to 36,000 tons of organic waste from 2,200 cattle.
The anaerobic digestion plant will then transform manure into fertiliser and biogas: the fertiliser is to be spread over the catchment area to limit the use of artificial inputs, while the biogas production is expected to cover the annual consumption of 1,300 residents. As a result, the anaerobic digestion plant should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per year representing a total reduction of 10% of emissions from agricultural activity in the county of Évian. This will, eventually, safeguard the quality of water by protecting its global ecosystem. According to Cathy Le Hec, head of APIEME and the face behind the initiative, installing an anaerobic digestion plant has a dual advantage: « This project drives local development of green energy and is a powerful tool for communicating with residents in the area. It also preserves the quality of the natural environment and all water resources in the catchment area, including evian water and drinking water used by 15,000 people.” This is a good example of how water and energy issues can be intertwined… and resolved together.