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Executive Meeting with Ángel Simón

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Water reuse is essential to alleviate future deficit

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  • Water is going to be key to being able to supply the 10 billion inhabitants.
  • Agbar is already working on a water reuse model that will make it possible not to depend so much on the occurrence of rainfall.

We present the second interview of the cycle of Executive Meetings 2023 in which Angel Simón, Chairman of Agbar, held an interesting conversation with the dean of the school, Dr. Casilda Güell. Simón has been with the company for more than 30 years, with a large part of his professional career dedicated to water and environmental management.

Food, water and energy will have to increase if we are to meet the needs of the population

Water will be the key to supplying the 10 billion inhabitants expected in the coming decades. Studies predict that the global water deficit will be 4,500 km3 in 20 years. This, coupled with the effects of climate change, makes it imperative to create resilient cities in which we are able to reuse resources to ensure our own survival. "Food, water and energy will have to increase if we are to meet the needs of the population in a scenario of increasingly frequent and intense droughts and floods," says Angel Simón. And we must be prepared for this.

Agbar is already working on a water reuse model that allows us not to depend so much on rainfall. One application of reuse is materialised in the biofactories, wastewater treatment plants where everything is used, that is, where the much-needed circular economy is put into practice, and which are energetically self-sufficient. This initiative, of which its chairman is proud, has earned the company the United Nations "Momentum for Change" award in 2018 for its work in the fight against climate change.

As an example, as far as Barcelona is concerned, the company's project to promote regeneration in the territory only needs administrative approval and financing, which could come from Next Generation funds or even from private initiative. All in all, says Simón, "It may take more or less time, but the reuse of water will be a fact in our cities and will become one of the great advances in the supply of water in cities, like chlorination of water or the treatment of surface water from rivers and the sea".

Innovation, Sustainability and Social Action

Ángel Simón believes that the key to a company's success today lies in several elements. On the one hand, knowing how to move along three lines of action: constant innovation, not only in terms of digitalisation but also in the way of managing and caring for people, sustainability and social action. He also believes it is very important to know the environment of each place in which a company operates, and above all to act from proximity, dialogue and transparency with the different stakeholders. Since 2021, Agbar has held an annual Stakeholders' General Meeting where it explains to them how the current year is going and what the objectives are for the future. This helps them to improve their commitment as a company, assures its Chairman.

The critical moments of recent years following the health crisis have led to incorporating lessons that have enabled Agbar to continue improving its vocation for service; for example, in the way of relating to people and seeking new alternatives to being in person, such as telematically or even in the metaverse. Its Chairman is particularly satisfied with and proud of this model.

Agbar was born on 17 June 1867 to bring water from the Dosrius aqueduct to Barcelona, and it did so at a key moment for the Catalan capital, the approval of the Cerdà Plan, a project that would not have been possible without its commitment. That was almost 156 years ago and that spirit is still alive in the company, says Ángel Simón. "The most satisfying thing is knowing that we are able to bring water to those places where there was none", he concludes.

Find out more about water management with the videopodcast of the second interview of the Executive Meetings with Ángel Simón here: