Compagnie des Eaux de Barcelone was established on 19 June 1867 in Liège, being the oldest precedent of the current Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, S. A. (SGAB). It was made up of the contributions of Crédit Général Liégeois, Compagnie Générale des Conduites d’Eau and other Belgian and French capital. Its aim was to provide the new Ensanche neighbourhood with the supply infrastructure that Barcelona had lacked until then.
On 14 May and 15 October 1881, Crédit Général Liégeois and Société Lyonnaise des Eaux (now integrated inSuez Environnement) formalizedagreements with Compagnie des Eaux de Barcelone by virtue of which Compagnie des Eaux de Barcelone contributed all its assets to a new company which was to be established in Paris.
On 20 January 1882 Société Générale des Eaux de Barcelonewas established in Paris.
The construction began of the Cornellà pumping station, which pumps water from the Llobregat aquifers to the city of Barcelona. The historical facility, whose construction was completed in 1909, still provides water to Barcelona metropolitan area at present.
The shareholders agreed to transfer the headquarters of Société Générale des Eaux de Barcelone from Paris to Barcelona.
A Spanish banking group, formed by Banco de Barcelona, Banco Hispano Colonial, Banco de Bilbao, Sindicato de Banqueros de Barcelona and Banca Arnús acquired Société Générale des Eaux de Barcelone, which became a Spanish-owned company, Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona, S.A. The sale agreement was formalized on 24 August 1920.
Built and inaugurated in 1955, since it was set up the Sant Joan Despí Drinking Water Treatment Planthas applied the most advanced water treatment technologies. The improvements to its processes include ozone treatment and reverse osmosis. After more than half a century of operation, the Sant Joan Despí plant is still one of the main supply sources of Barcelona metropolitan area.
The Environment Study and Research Centre (CEIA) was created to contribute to knowledge, research and dissemination of aspects related to the complete water cycle. The CEIA was the first step toward the creation, in 1998, of the Agbar Foundation, the institution which updates the values which inspire the group, contributes to their permanent diffusion and is established as a link between the group and society.
SGAB created Sorea to operate in Catalonia and the Balearics. It is currently responsible for supplying water to over 270 municipalities and serves over 2 million clients.
Lyonnaise des Eaux, which would later form part of the Suez Environnement group, acquired a block of shares which made it the reference shareholder of SGAB, together with La Caixa.
In 1985, Aguas de Barcelona established Holding Aplicaciones del Agua S.A., which brought together companies which offered services in different activities related to the complete water cycle. This represented one more step in the company’s expansion.
In 1992, SGAB took over Corporación SGAB and Aplicaciones del Agua. All the companies joined SGAB, which became a group managing public services.
The SGAB Foundation was created in 1998, starting from the Centre for Study and Research and Aplicaciones del Agua, to promote sustainable development and an improvement in the quality of life of human beings.
EMOS, later Aguas Andinas, the company responsible for water distribution and sewerage in Greater Santiago (Chile), was privatized and SGAB and Suez entered its capital.
The conurbation of Greater Santiago is SGAB’s biggest area of water and sewerage management, with a population supplied of almost six million inhabitants. The establishment in Greater Santiago required an investment of 1 billion dollars, the largest investment effort that SGAB has made in its history.
The SGAB Water Museum was inaugurated in 2004 in the facilities of the historical Cornellà de Llobregat pumping station, built between 1905 and 1909. The SGAB Water Museum was an initiative of the SGAB Foundation, with the intention of sharing a very special industrial heritage in order to promote the values associated with the culture of water and encourage favourable attitudes in relation to water and knowledge of this product.
SGAB entered the United Kingdom on acquiring the capital of Bristol Water, the company which distributes water to the English city and its area of influence, with over a million inhabitants.
In 2007, SGAB entered China and Algeria. In China, it manages drinking water supply and wastewater treatment projects in Jiangsu province. In Algeria, SGAB carries out the delegated management of water supply and sewerage in the province of Oran, in north-east Algeria, through the company Société des Eaux Oran, SPA.
In this same year SGAB, together with the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), formed Cetaqua, the Water Technology Centre, with the joint objective of promoting, carrying out, circulating and transferring research, technological development and innovation in complete water cycle management.
In 2009, the temporary joint venture led by SGAB and formed by Degrémont, Dragados and Drace built the Barcelona desalination plant, capable of producing 60 hm3 of water a year. It is Europe’s biggest desalination plant for urban supply, with state-of-the-art technology and efficient consumption. The same temporary joint venture is in charge of managing the facility for the first two years.
Following a friendly tender offer, in May Suez Environnement became the holder of a 75.74% stake in SGAB’s capital, while ‘la Caixa', through Criteria CaixaCorp, maintained 24.25%. In this operation, SGAB parted with its shares in Adeslas.
Aigües de Barcelona was established in 2013 as a new model of public-private partnership which integrates all the services associated with the complete water cycle. It thus added to the scope of its activity the sewerage service and the treatment of wastewater to be returned to the natural environment or for reuse.
Aigües de Barcelona holds an 85% stake in the new company, Aigües de Barcelona, Empresa Metropolitana de Gestió del Cicle Integral de l’Aigua, and the AMB holds 15%.