Strength and sustainability of infrastructure

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Prof. Agis M. Papadopoulos, Chairman of the Board EYATH S.A.

On the occasion of World Water Day: resilience and sustainability of infrastructure

In his novel The Scent, Patrick Zushkid gives an excellent description of what Paris and other cities were like in the 18th century: without water and sanitation, with incredible stench and disease decimating the population. For more than 120 years, these basic infrastructures have been self-evident throughout the developed world.

In the third decade of the 21st century, the provision of water and sewerage is characterized by the need to become sustainable. For this reason, it is included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Urbanization, the intensification of agricultural cultivation, advanced production techniques all contribute to the need to meet growing needs with a resource that is finite – and due to climate change increasingly hard to find. If one considers that Thessaloniki at the beginning of the 20th century was supplied by Hortiatis and today is supplied by Aliakmonas, which collects its waters from the mountains of Western Macedonia, and Arabissos, which is 70 km away, it can realize the magnitude of the problem. . Resolving it requires long-term planning, consistent implementation, consistent operation and of course the necessary resources, physical, human and financial.

The operation of the water supply also involves very significant energy consumption, with financial and environmental costs. The carbon footprint of water supply, how many kilos of carbon dioxide are released to reach a liter of water in our home, is an extremely interesting indicator of viability. It is the aim of EYATH to reduce energy consumption, applying techniques to improve the efficiency of refining and water transfer, but also to use, to a greater extent, electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

It is also clear that the management of valuable water resources needs to be improved: reducing network losses, targeting consumers to reduce unnecessary water use, looking for alternatives to irrigation and other uses, so as not to spend high quality drinking water, are just a few actions that need to be promoted at a faster pace and with the active participation of society.

EYATH had planned for this year’s World Water Day an event together with the Polytechnic School of AUTh. and other city bodies, to discuss exactly these issues. Instead, we celebrate the day by developing safety plans to protect our staff so that we can ensure the city’s water supply and sewerage. The resilience of the system is our first priority, to which we will respond with planning and collective effort.

The pandemic that we have been experiencing for two weeks now – and which unfortunately we do not know how long it will last – reminds us in the harshest way of two things: (a) that normality cannot be taken for granted – and therefore we must always be ready to manage the unpredictable and (b) that the most valuable resource is people.

When, with good luck, we overcome this ordeal, we will be able to present and discuss the company’s plan for sustainable water supply and sewerage in the coming decades. Until then, take care of yourselves and one another and manage our physical resources wisely.

 


 

Under the shadow of the corona virus, this year’s World Water Day, and the United Nations launching the hashtag #SafeHandsChallenge, “challenging” audiences to upload videos promoting meticulous hand washing.

The example is given by the General Director of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom  Ghembreyesus:



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