Based on an article by Alexsandra Hac, Journalist, Gazeta Wyborcza, Lodz, Poland
Photos Water Tour: Daniel Marcos
Throughout centuries Zaragoza fought with the river. “River sides were practically the city dump, with no public spaces along it.
We forgot about Ebro and built walls to defend ourselves from it. Though an utopia re- mained on everybodies mind: that of people enjoying the river, spending time and having fun on its sides. The Expo helped making that dream come true,” said Prof. Fransisco Pellicer Corellano, Deputy Manager of Operations Department of Expo2008, during the Water Tour that was offered to the Conference Participants by the Zaragoza City Council.
The municipality along with the regional and national government prepared a project that led to a situation in which Zaragoza embraced Ebro. Key was to create urban and landscape projects changing the river sides. Getting rid of places full or garbage, eroded land with basically no grass, trees and plants. Brick walls were turned into gardens with pedestrian lanes. Land- scape elements and infrastructure that kids can use safely even when the water level gets high. The dirty dessert on the sides of Ebro turned green. Zaragoza created a gateway to the river that would pull the nature inside the city. Within few years a big park, botanic garden, and public spaces were built. All designed in a way that it could be flooded when the river rises.
“Citizens participation is a very symbolic aspect of the water and the most important legacy of the Expo,” says Prof. Corellano. Zaragoza was looking for 15.000 volunteers for the exhibition. 50.000 took part.
During the tour participants also visited the Water Treatment Plant. A decade ago Zaragoza was using the water from Ebro. Nowadays it’s taken from the river Yesa in the Pyrenees. Before the water is distributed it’s being purified with filters, active carbon, in settling tanks and disinfected.
Within the last 12 years Zaragoza spent almost 100 million Euro on improv- ing their water management, most of the money was spent on restoration and improvement of the network. Not only was the infrastructure renewed but also people’s attitude towards water consumption changed. In 2009 a person in Zaragoza was using 228 litres of water per day compared to the 507 litres back at 1979 and 396 at 1990.
The water is not only treated for drinking but also before it’s dumped to Ebro. It’s what they call an Integral Water Cycle – controlling it from the moment of taking from the river till putting it back. And that is where the tour ended, at the Waste Water Treatment Plant just outside Zaragoza.
“One fifth of the world population has no access to water, people have to work for hours to find it. It is our responsibility to use it in a rational and sustainable way. Life is impossible without water,” said Lola Campos from the Zaragoza’s Environmental Department.
Watch below video interview by correspondent Roel Landingin from the Philippines who interviewed volunteer Miriam Lee.