The SUEZ Working for Water call for projects, launched on 10 September 2015, invites associations, researchers, entrepreneurs and individuals to present innovative initiatives and solutions to preserve resources; the winners will receive funding and support from SUEZ experts. Project proposals must address five key challenges that have been identified. This article, the second in a series of five, looks at the second challenge: helping ensure the good ecological state of bodies of water in order to better preserve the environment and biodiversity. Crédit: SUEZ
With the adoption of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in 2000, the European Union set ambitious goals for its member states to preserve water resources. This directive aims to ensure good chemical and ecological conditions for surface water, and good chemical and quantity-based conditions for groundwater.
Ensuring the good ecological state of water means ensuring that the various aquatic ecosystems and ecological processes are functioning correctly.
One of the key drivers for achieving these good conditions is still reducing the negative externalities of human activities on aquatic environments at their source, such as by reducing the pollution of environments, carefully managing water extraction levels and strictly controlling wastewater discharges. For instance, phosphorus and nitrogen pollution can lead to eutrophication : the proliferation of plants which saturate and deplete aquatic environments, preventing their natural purification (their capacity to transform substances – often organic – through various processes). This imbalance in the environment impacts its fauna and flora in many ways such as by disrupting the ecological continuity of waterways or weakening the reproduction cycles of certain species. Preventing this pollution is therefore a key challenge for preserving water resources and the biodiversity dependent on them. Schéma de la Zone Libellule – Crédit: SUEZ
Proactive actions can also be taken to encourage the development of biodiversity. Conserving, protecting and even creating areas of wetland (such as marshes, ponds, mangroves and lagoons) is one of them. Wetland areas represent crucial environments for biological diversity and supply the water and primary productivity that a countless number of plant and animal species (birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates) depend on for their survival. 169 countries that have signed up to the Ramsar Convention have made commitments to preserve them. New artificial areas of wetland can also be created, such as the area designed by SUEZ in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region: the Zone Libellule or dragonfly area. This artificial wetland area, located downstream from a treatment plant, notably aims to facilitate the elimination of residual micropollutants from the wastewater before it is discharged into nature, thanks to the purification capacities of its various plants.
More ad hoc corrective actions can be taken, including weed removal operations. For instance, in Olivet, France, invasive weeds have blocked the Loiret River, endangering local fauna and flora. Regularly removing these weeds allows the river to return to a balanced state.
Schéma de la Zone Libellule – Crédit: SUEZ
Water quality and biodiversity development are two challenges that are closely interdependent, at the heart of the Working for Water call for projects.
The Working for Water call for projects is open until 31 December 2015.
You will be able to find out more about it in this video:
The final selection will be made and the winner(s) announced in March 2016. The total annual budget for the call for projects is €100,000.
The jury, co-chaired by Bertrand Camus, CEO of SUEZ’s water business in France, and Serge Lepeltier, Chairman of the Académie de l’Eau and former French Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development, will include representatives from various institutions, universities and associations, as well as leading figures from within the company.
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