World Sanitation Day (or World Toilet Day), which is celebrated today, November 19, has been promoted by the United Nations since 2013. This year its motto is "Sustainable sanitation and climate change" and seeks to raise awareness about the new reality to the one we face. Floods, droughts, and rising sea levels can damage any part of a public sanitation system - pipes, tanks, or treatment plants - and lead to wastewater discharges, which can create a public health emergency , as well as deteriorating the environment. For this reason, it is urgent to strengthen sanitation systems to withstand inclement weather and be sustainable.
According to the United Nations, some 4.2 billion people around the globe have sanitation systems that are poor and vulnerable or, in some cases, completely lacking. For this reason, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the roadmap to achieve a more equal and just world, include in their sixth point the commitment to achieve clean water and sanitation for the entire world population by 2030. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of both services in preventing and containing infectious diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever. Public-private partnerships (point 17 of the SDGs) are essential to make them universal.
The new challenge in the face of climate change is to ensure that cities such as León, in which the mixed company of Aguas de León manages the water supply and the sanitation network, evacuate with the least ecological impact a flow of water (wastewater and rainwater) growing. The problem is that the rainwater is not clean due to polluting emissions from car traffic and industries. Therefore, a revolution in management is necessary, hand in hand with digitization and new technologies. It involves introducing sensors throughout the network, treating the data globally, developing sewer cleaning programs and comprehensively managing tanks and reservoirs.
Responsible sanitation: everyone's action is essential
In addition, given the exceptional situation of more hours spent in homes created by the pandemic, Aguas de León recalls the importance of not flushing cigarette butts, oil, personal care products (masks, wipes, tampons and swabs) down the toilet and sink , among others) and medications. These wastes are responsible for important clogs in the downspouts of neighboring communities and public sewers, with an increase in the cost of between 10 and 15% in the cost of maintaining the networks, that is, an additional 230 million euros per year in Spain according to the Spanish Association of Water Supply and Sanitation (AEAS).