Yesterday, Agbar’s Executive Chairman, Angel Simón, participated in the Círculo de Economía’s “Dialogues: Business and Society Cycle” with the aim of reflecting on the current situation of the water sector and of the challenges and opportunities that the future has in store. “The recipe for success is the public-private partnership model. This requires a strengthening of the regulation of the sector and a fundamental solution to resolve the territorial water imbalances, and positioning technical knowledge at the heart of decision-making, thus preventing ideological or demagogic debates from curbing development and the introduction of effective solutions. This is achieved through governance”, he stated during a discussion with the President of the Círculo de Economía, Juan José Brugera.
Angel Simón likewise highlighted the commitment to the fight against climate change, to sustainability and to the circular economy as the main challenges of society and of the sector. “The global climate change problem needs to be tackled with local solutions, which must be aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)”.
In response to the delicate situation of drought being experienced by the country, Agbar’s Executive Chairman explained how Barcelona and the Metropolitan Area could confront this situation: “The first and best resource that we have in order to tackle it is reuse”. However, for this to become a reality, he stressed that it is necessary to obtain the consensus of all the parties involved. “We need a global water deal in Spain with the aim of taking measures in advance in order to plan the investments and thus address future periods of drought without partisan struggles”. He moreover explained that “in the Baix Llobregat (El Prat) wastewater treatment plant we have a 15 km pipeline which goes upstream to Molins de Rei. This wastewater treatment plant, which can produce 250 million litres a day, 2,000 l/sec. of reclaimed water of excellent quality from 2 million users, could pump it upstream to be treated in the Sant Joan Despí drinking water treatment plant, thus transforming it into safe drinking water”.
Another of the issues addressed during his intervention was that of the water bill. The event highlighted the 11.8% increase in the ATLL tariff introduced by the Catalan Water Agency, with the consequent impact on the bill of the end consumers, a figure above inflation. “In the case of Barcelona and the municipalities of the Metropolitan Area, the cost of the service by the operating company, which is Aigües de Barcelona, only represents 34% of the bill. The rest – over 50% – is basically administrative charges and the purchase of wholesale water”, he declared. He likewise recalled that Aigües de Barcelona does not cut off the water supply to anyone who cannot pay thanks to its solidarity funds.
He moreover took advantage of the occasion to share his view of the court rulings that are expected this year in the disputes such as ATLL and the water concession in Barcelona. “We will respect and of course abide by the court decisions, and we trust that they will be in favour of the group”, he stated. In relation to the water concession of Barcelona, he moreover said that “if the judgement is unfavourable, we would return to the situation prior to 2013, that is to say that the Barcelona Metropolitan Area would be responsible for the wastewater treatment and us for the supply”.
The main aim of this initiative of the Círculo de Economía with businesspeople with an extensive and recognized track record is to take advantage of their experience and reflections as a stimulus to confront the new challenges raised in companies and in society at the beginning of this new century. The current edition demonstrated how Angel Simón’s education as a civil engineer and his humanist outlook influenced his career when it came to focusing the business activity on people.