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BECC AND NADB PARTICIPATE IN WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES AT ANEAS’ 30TH ANNUAL CONVENTION

Posted on January 02, 2017

BECC AND NADB PARTICIPATE IN WORKSHOPS AND CONFERENCES AT ANEAS’ 30TH ANNUAL CONVENTION

The Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the North American Development Bank (NADB) joined in various workshops and conferences during the 30th Annual Convention and Expo held by the National Association of Water and Wastewater Utilities (ANEAS) at the Baja California Convention Center in Playas de Rosarito on November 7-11, 2016.

The convention was held in connection with the 50th anniversary of the State Commission for Public Services of Tijuana (CESPT). During the five-day event, the organization hosted 7,000 visitors from 16 countries. Additionally, roughly 1,153 exhibitors from organizations and companies related to the water sector participated in the Expo.

During the convention´s opening ceremony, Baja California Governor Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, stated: “Baja California is strongly committed to addressing existing water issues, since a severe drought is currently being experienced by the state”. He mentioned four projects representing a total investment of $11.8 billion pesos are currently underway to respond to the challenge. In this context, he stated that construction tasks have begun in San Quintin to build a desalination facility that will initially provide 250 liters per second. During its second phase, the plant will produce an additional 250 lps of water to address the local demand and advance the development of the valley area.

Additionally, he said a contract was signed a few weeks ago to kick off the construction of a desalination plant in Playas de Rosarito. In Ensenada, an ocean water desalination facility is in its final construction phase.

During the workshops and conferences, members of the BECC and NADB staff had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new trends and alternatives being implemented at the national and international level to address the shortage of water, as well as water conveyance, distribution, and management challenges faced by large cities.

The Energy Efficiency in Water Utilities workshop addressed issues related to the BECC´s Audit Program, which is being implemented in communities along the entire U.S.-Mexico border area. Workshop attendees also discussed the results of the implementation of a new learning network model for the State of Coahuila in collaboration with the German Development Agency (GIZ).

BECC’s Technical and Quality Control Programs Manager Fernando Ortiz participated in this workshop and said the organization’s Energy Efficiency/Energy Audit Program for water utilities has conducted approximately 13 energy efficiency audits to help identify more than 130 specific mitigation actions that are already being implemented.

“Almost all (mitigation actions) have one or two-year Return on Investment periods. In other words, these are very financially feasible projects that once completed, can help the utilities achieve significant power savings, in the order of 15% to 20%," Ortiz said.

As an example, he commented on the case of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, where the energy efficiency actions recommended by the BECC audit were implemented and helped the utility achieve savings of at least $10 million pesos annually.

In the panel discussion entitled Human Capital Investment: A Path to Water System Efficiencies, NADB Program Manager Jorge Silva highlighted the significance of their organization, inasmuch as their status as a development bank enables them to address all agencies within their jurisdiction and provide them direct training.

He said the key issue is to provide institutional capacity building or improvement options. "Although we do not have full power to influence these changes, we are advancing initiatives to provide employees professional development opportunities in an attempt to retain them in the organization and turn them into water management professionals, so as to be able to plan for a five to ten-year horizon, which will yield vital results for the utilities,” he said.

He pointed out that the utilities´ high turnover rate is the main issue to be addressed; however, this employee turnover occurs because appointments are for a maximum of four years, which is a very short period of time and therefore, more and more people have to be constantly trained.

In coordination with ANEAS, BECC and NADB hosted a special workshop entitled “Lessons Learned and Good Management Practices for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” moderated by BECC Project Manager Jessica Hernandez, who noted that the event sought to have the country's leading water and wastewater utilities present their success stories and have a forum to share information that contributes to improve the efficiencies of water and wastewater systems along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

The workshop was organized so that newly appointed officials charged with water management responsibilities in the incoming Chihuahua and Tamaulipas administrations could become familiar with the lessons learned by existing water and wastewater utilities.

Ismael Rodriguez, the new president of the Junta Central de Aguas de Chihuahua, acknowledged that the workshop represented a great opportunity to meet and learn from the best.

“We are looking at the best utilities, those with best water management practices, physical and commercial efficiencies, what they have done over time, their main strategies, and the challenges they face. For us... it is necessary to identify a path to success and know that this can be done and we have to do it,” he said.

Ana Maria Villegas, on behalf of the director general of the Tamaulipas State Commission, Luis Pinto, said: “This workshop is significant because it allows us to share information and get input about new experiences that will help us address challenges and maintain all of our water and wastewater systems operating at an optimal level.”

Finally, during the "Capital and Infrastructure Projects for Water Utilities" panel, BECC General Manager Maria Elena Giner stated that the number one challenge for utilities is capacity building, as it relates to the areas of governance, finance, and social issues.

She also spoke about initiatives currently being implemented in border communities, and highlighted that in addition to water and wastewater treatment, renewable energy, and solid waste, two additional emerging issues are being addressed –one is the issue of energy efficiency in water utilities and the other is the use of green infrastructure for stormwater management. 

“It is about determining how we can implement infrastructure to harvest rainwater runoffs and recharge local aquifers, prevent flooding, and also prevent sediments from entering the sewage system and damaging the water and wastewater collection infrastructure,” the BECC Manager said.  

She also pointed out there are success stories, such as water and wastewater master plans that extend beyond administrations and support continuity in the long-term management of existing utilities. 




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