Aqua España is the Spanish Association of Water Sector Companies, which for more than 40 years has brought together private companies that offer products and services for the analysis, control and treatment of water for its different uses, such as urban, industrial and irrigation consumption. The association is not involved in bottled water, nor in the operation of municipal public water supply and sanitation services.
Its mission is the technical and economic development of the private water sector in Spain, as Agustí Ferrer, general manager of Aqua España, explains. We talked to him about this important resource for human and business development.
What are the main challenges facing the water sector?
The main challenge of the water sector is to offer viable solutions for water sustainability. It means, to offer products and services that make water available in sufficient quality and quantity for its different uses, in an economically viable way, so that there are companies that can offer these solutions. In this context, water reuse is particularly relevant. We will see more and more of these practices. Today we do not see all those that existing technology allows because people find it difficult to accept the concept of reuse. It is an act of ignorance that we trust will be overcome. In this matter, I explain the example of astronauts. Astronauts reuse their water repeatedly. And they maintain excellent health. The technology used by astronauts has been available on earth for decades to the general public. There are countries that already use it on an urban scale. And Spain will have to use it if it wants to have water, because our country is in an evident process of desertification.
To what extent is it important for water analysis, control and treatment products and services companies to join Aqua España?
It is very important for companies in a sector to be part of the business association that represents the companies operating in that sector. The reason is that this allows the company to be informed, connected and to influence the rules of the business game. Without this, the company always has information gaps, it is more difficult to keep up to date, it is more likely to have incidents and conflicts, its adaptation to legal and technical changes becomes more difficult and late. In our sector, being part of Aqua España allows companies to be informed, connected with the sector and influence the rules of the game of this business. And it is also a mark of confidence. We have data that tells us that 3 out of 4 managers in Spain will trust an Aqua España company to be a collaborator or supplier more than another company in the sector that is not.
Are companies prepared to meet water legislative requirements?
Solvent companies are. Our associates are. And it is precisely in Aqua España that we work to make this adaptation easier for companies, offering information, training and connecting them with other professionals who can help them. And, when necessary, agreeing with the Public Administration on deadlines for sectorial adaptation.
Has technology been a key factor in the evolution of the sector in recent years?
Of course, it has. The water sector has evolved a lot technologically and in recent years digitalization is playing a fundamental role. Currently, this has an important support from the Public Administration, especially in the face of water scarcity. We need water in sufficient quality and quantity for the economy to function, not only to survive as people. Given the scarcity of water, it is essential to control this water and its use in detail. And for this, technology is essential. All this makes it clear that the water sector is an essential sector. Today and in the future. And due to its complexity, it is increasingly incorporating professionals from different technical and high-value disciplines. And it encourages the creation of start-ups, some of which are located in business parks, such as Trade.
What made Aqua España decide to move to the SC Trade Center?
In 2011 we moved to the SC Trade Center in response to the desire of several businessmen and managers to have a meeting space that was easier to access than the city center of Barcelona, which was where we previously had our headquarters. In 2011 we held many face-to-face meetings with managers from various places, and entering the city center at certain times was problematic, especially in a private car, since there was also a parking component. It was felt that the SC Trade Center was well connected by road both inland, north and south, and offered better parking space. And the rates were competitive with Barcelona. All this led to the choice of the SC Trade Center.
In all the time you have been installed at the SC Trade Center, what do you value most?
What we value most is the comprehensive service offered by the center. From reception to cleaning, IT services… This allows us to focus on our business and forget about the maintenance of certain services. And personally, I love the natural environment of the Trade. To look out the window and see the forest. And to look out on the terrace and see horses is a privilege.
Has the Trade responded to the space needs that you have had during all these years?
Yes, over the years Aqua España has been in 3 different spaces within the SC Trade Center. Over time we have had different space needs and the Trade has allowed us to have the space we needed at all times.
We have even used the Trade Center facilities on several occasions to organize face-to-face training courses and meetings with many people. The rooms on the first floor or the terrace offer very good facilities in a privileged environment.
How do you rate the atmosphere at the Trade?
I think the atmosphere at the Trade is very positive. Both with the center’s staff and with other tenants. By our nature, we do not have synergies with the other resident companies, but we do share this good general atmosphere. And above all we appreciate the professional approach that the Trade’s management takes to the center. This is important because we are in a business center to have an optimal environment for work productivity.
As water experts, do you have any recommendations for saving water in the context of drought?
One of Aqua España’s areas of work is precisely the efficiency of water use in buildings. In this area it is worth saying that Sant Cugat is a national reference because it has a very clear municipal ordinance on this issue and a recognizable history in the matter. We have been collaborating with them for years.
And beyond the water facilities in general, an important thing and where the residents of the Trade have a leading role, is in the use of water fountains. Aqua España has played an essential role in the extension of these solutions in Spain thanks to our legal loobying. And years ago, we asked the Trade to install one, as they have in many office buildings. Today it is a reality enjoyed by the Trade’s tenants. And it also saves a lot of plastic bottle consumption.
Would you recommend the SC Trade Center?
I would recommend the Trade especially to companies that do not want to have their own, traditional premises, but want a modern space that makes their work and business development easier. And specifically to those who want to have their own closed office, outside of the coworking model, which, while it may be interesting for certain entrepreneurs, for many organizations it is neither productive nor desirable.