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Formentera joins Bilbao summit on innovative water-management solutions

foto bizkaia 1Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera put in an appearance last week at an event showcasing cutting-edge strategies in water management, Encuentro para la Innovación en la Gestión de Agua (4.0), a series of day-long meditations organised by Spain's association of water supply and sanitation, AEAS, and the Bilbao Bizkaia water consortium.

The gathering served to shed light on the innovative aspects of the digitalisation currently afoot in urban water management, and provide a look at some of the challenges ahead—in general strategies, public contracts, integrated project management, and development of everything from sanitation and purification to distribution.

Formentera spotlighted the cutting-edge hallmarks of Smart Water Island, a system that lets local water supplier Aqualia automatically track water use from remote locations, boosting both the speed and efficiency of the local grid.

Pioneer system in the Balearics

The scheme's rollout, including installation of 2394 water metres, will be complete by year end. The system is the first of its kind in the Balearics and does not directly impact water rates.

Smart readings of metres give Aqualia the ability to track real-time consumption while eliminating the need for in-person visits to housing tracts and individual dwellings. The automatic remote-reading apparatus works by dispatching data feeds every eight seconds directly to the Sant Francesc-based command central where a software programme calculates billing information.

With the Smart Aqua app, ratepayers even have access to an hourly breakdown of their consumption. The app gives customers the possibility of tracking water use even when away from home. The system detects leaks localised in homes and even signals other potential irregularities, thus preventing sky-high bills due to associated water loss.

Secretary Aguilera called it “a leap forward in terms of the tools we have to monitor the grid, and how we measure efficiency, which stood at 89.57% in 2017. Taken together, she said, the system "makes our water use more sustainable and ensures a more sound distribution, both of which are crucial on an island like Formentera”.

Aguilera also took time in her presentation to discuss the management model used by Aliança per l'Aigua, an agency that works with the public and private sectors and civil society to promote sustainable water use in the Balearics and Formentera, where “every drop counts as we move closer to striking a balance between growth and responsible administration of our natural resources”.

Volunteers take aim at stacked stones of Es Trucadors

foto ses salines pedres 1The Formentera Council's environment office reports that the administration is partnering with GEN-GOB and the Balearic ministry of environment to stage a cleanup this Saturday in a bid to clear piles of small rocks near Es Trucadors.

CiF environment secretary Daisee Aguilera encouraged the whole island to come out for the event. The day will begin with a 10.30am briefing in the car park of Es Ministre, a restaurant in Illetes. From there volunteers will head to Es Trucadors and, said the secretary, “try to make a dent in the piles of stones littering the landscape”. Aguilera said crews are encouraged to scatter the stones carefully to minimise impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

Es Trucadors sits in the centre of Ses Salines nature reserve, which exposure to wind and waves makes particularly susceptible to erosion. Those very weather conditions are behind the strange and unique coastal features that are one of the reserve's defining characteristics—and the same reason it is vulnerable to even subtle changes.

Aguilera held the park's surging popularity in recent years and visitors' inclination to stack stones in sculpture-like creations to blame for “accelerating natural processes of erosion and, by correlation, this area's eventual disappearance from the map”. That, she said, is the idea behind educational outreach: explaining to islanders “why leaving this fragile ecosystem untouched, and if possible restoring it to how it was, is so crucial”.

Volunteers coming to participate from Eivissa should meet in the port at 8.30am. Round-trip travel between the islands will be covered by Baleària, and bus service to and from Illetes will also be free of charge. Snacks will be provided at the end of the day.

Second round of aerial spraying in assault on invasive pest

foto processiona--tanca-d-allaThe Formentera Council's environment department reports plans are under way this week to start the second part of an aerial dusting strategy designed to stem spread of the pine processionary caterpillar on Formentera. The second application will be identical to the first; same helicopter, same crew, same target area.

The team charged with conducting the operation is already on the island. They will spend the day Monday preparing signage and checking and calibrating equipment.

The start of operations is dependent on fair weather, which weather forecasters predict will come Thursday, though additional methods of application are available if winds die down before then, such as with isolated aerial spraying.

Formentera collects 527.4 tonnes of organic waste during five-month trial run

foto materia organica 1At the close of a pilot programme for organic waste pickup that ran from May 15 to mid October, the Formentera Council's environment office reports that 170 participating businesses generated 527.4 tonnes of waste.

Environment secretary Daisee Aguilera applauded the collaboration in 2018 of the local medium- and large-quantity waste generators who joined the effort. "It's the first time a pickup service of this kind is available across the entire island", said Aguilera, "and thanks to the commitment of participating businesses, we ended up with 127 more tonnes than originally forecasted".

Two collection routes were established this year to serve the island's medium- and large-scale waste generators. Businesses also had an environmental advisory agent and three patrol staff from the administration's environment department.

A new life as compost

The push is part of the waste management plan currently under review on the island. The goal? To cut the cost of shipping waste to Eivissa's Ca Na Putxa landfill. Europe has made extending the useful lifespan of products a top priority. The Council's work in the current initiative involves turning organic waste into a boon for Formentera's countryside.

The nearly 530 tonnes of organic waste were harnessed to make 1,700 cubic metres of compost using a "pile method" in which organic waste is mixed with shredded garden trimmings and then left to mature during a roughly eight-month process. The plan's engineers say the compost will be given to the local farmers' cooperative to add nutrients to soil and improve crop yield.

Data from the pilot programme will be used to study adding organic waste collection to the future waste management contract, due to take effect in 2020.

Formentera holds Posidònia Fòrum

foto compilant dadesThis Friday the tourism and environment bureaus of the Formentera Council will host Posidònia Fòrum, a day of dialogue between business, residents and the administration as the Council works towards sustainability with one of the island's most precious heritage features: posidonia seagrass.

Posidònia Fòrum
The working day will focus on the milestones towards conserving posidonia, a key species in the Balearic ecosystem. The day is also about developing a sustainable model of tourism that encourages sound use of natural and cultural resources, economic stability and quality of life improvements for the local community.

The day, which kicks off at 9.30am in the Council's Sala de Plens, is split in two parts—tourism first, and then initiatives associated with Save Posidonia Project. Tourism secretary Alejandra Ferrer will start things off with an opening address. Journalist Carmelo Convalia will follow Ferrer with a talk on changes over the last decade in Formentera tourism. Next, the island's head of tourism, Carlos Bernús, will talk about promoting tourism and occupancy figures in 2017. CEGOS, a consulting and training firm, will enlist company representatives to share their analysis of the “Tourism Barometre”.

After a break, environment secretary Daisee Aguilera will help get the second part of the day under way with a report on the take-aways and SPP growth in 2017 and 2018. Then participants will get a look at some SPP projects, like IMEDEA's Antroposí; GEN-GOB's study of the seagrass and how it can be used sustainably; and marine biologist Manu San Félix's presentation of Posidònia Maps. A round table about the delicate balance between tourism and the environment will be followed by a discussion with suggestions from within the sector and from actual residents. Secretary Ferrer will oversee the conclusions and closing portion of the event.

Save Posidonia Project
Since its inception in 2017 (International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development) SPP has been a pioneer project in the western Mediterranean. SPP reflects the Formentera Council's goal of promoting sustainable tourism and launching an action plan to raise funding for Posidonia oceanica conservation. The goal is to bring awareness to the seagrass's importance for both present and future generations.

The project continues today in 2018, accruing active participants and encouraging adoption of swaths of seagrass meadows around the island.

Many have elected to sponsor posidonia meadows over the last two years, helping as they do further awareness around the importance of the underwater plant for our future.

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