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Ecologia y medio ambiente
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Most of us would certainly agree with this
fine sounding phrase. But developing it
and putting it into practice is not easy.
Firstly, because we are already having
problems identifying the meaning or interpretation
we give to some words. For
example, water as a resource. Water is
not just a natural resource, it is the basis
of the industrial sector, a generator of
cultural heritage and a linchpin of society.
And we sometimes use the term scarce
when referring to a problem of distribution
or overexploitation. In any case, this
means that water management is very
complex. This is because there are different
agents involved and all of them have
different interests; these interests are often
contradictory and can lead to conflict.
Everyone understands the concept
of efficient management differently. Efficient:
why and for whom?
At the same time, we have to make decisions.
Decisions that involve a way of
managing the resource. For example,
authorising (or not) a withdrawal from a
water course, building (and how) a treatment
plant or defining (what and in which
range) the quality parameters guaranteeing
its drinkability... These examples, and
many more that we could cite, are some
of the aspects on which a group of people
are responsible for acting, deciding
and getting the decisions implemented.
The hypothesis presented in this book is
that to achieve this efficient management
there are no simple formulas or universal
solutions. However, this does not mean
that all solutions are equally correct. Experience
shows us that some are better than
Achieving effective water management
affects us all. But to reflect on and assess
the decisions made is a task that
must be delimited so it can be dealt with
in a book such as the one the reader has
in their hands. In this context, the authors
have already made two decisions.
The first makes reference to the size. In
this book, we are not going to discuss
the whole water cycle, just the part that
relates to urban water system. This is
understood as the set of decisions concerning
the collection of wastewater,
transporting it, treating it and returning
it to the environment or reusing it. Bearing
in mind that there are already excellent
manuals available providing design
and calculation criteria for plants, this
book wants to go a step further. Its aim
is to analyse the decisions that have to
be made at every stage. And to be able
to do it in a comprehensive way so as
to identify the questions that need to be
asked in each case. Which decisions
need to be made and what impact can
they have. Nor is the aim to give a comprehensive
view of each case; that would
take a whole encyclopedia. In any case,
we hope to interest the reader enough so
that they go to the references indicated
at the end of the book to obtain a more
exhaustive analysis of each of the cases
The second decision is to make it clear
that the book offers its own point of view.
This is our view and our proposal obtained
from almost twenty years of experience.
That is why an intimate style
has been used throughout. We discuss
cases we have experienced, some of
which have already been implemented
with success, some are under development,
others remain a possibility, others
are sleeping like a baby ... but all the
cases relate to real problems with all their
constraints and possibilities. From an initial
analysis of the findings, we are going
to discuss the ones that are, in our
opinion, the problems that must be addressed
for urban water management
and how this leads to different decision
levels. In each of them, we will try to discuss,
giving practical examples, a way to
overcome these problems. It is not necessarily
the only way or the best way. But
we hope the reader can draw their own
For all these reasons this book is for people
who are, in some way, involved in water
management and treatment, and who
are involved in making decisions about
this. People who are already making decisions
and want to know the thoughts of
others working in this field. People who
are not currently working in this field,
but are interested in it and want to know
what type of decisions that they will have
to face and analyse proposals made by
people already working in the field. And
finally, people affected by the issue and
wanting to broaden their knowledge.
We do not want to end this introduction
without thanking all the people and
institutions involved in the development
of some of the systems presented in this
book for their help. THANK YOU to all of
We can only hope that the work presented
here will be helpful to the reader. We
can guarantee though, that the experience
of contributing to better management
of the water resource is absolutely
"Water is a scarce resource
and its management has to be as effective
as possible"

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