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Porto, a water sensitive city - Sustainable management of urban water cycle

From EPSA - European Public Sector Award

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Award nominee

The establishment of Aguas do Porto, in October 2006, brought a new perspective of water as a resource, with a determinant impact on life quality and socio-economic development of Porto city. The innovative philosophy for water management, at regional and national level, is based on the premise that the processes of urban development, environmental qualification, and local competitiveness require sustainability of the water resources.

The ‘Porto, a Water Sensitive City’ programme promotes the incorporation of the best management practices of urban water cycle in the planning policy, in order to improve the population’s quality of life and to contribute to sustainable economic development and regional competitiveness, fulfilling the vision for the future of the ‘Europe 2020’ Strategy.

In terms of sustainable development, the primary objective of transitioning to a water sensitive city is to improve effectiveness and efficiency of the water distribution network, through the ‘Porto without Water Losses’ project, which is embodied in a drastic reduction of water purchased but which does not reach consumers taps. With effective management measures, almost without investment, Aguas do Porto has reduced water loss by half in just eight months (56,000 m³ to 28,000 m³ per day).

Experts in water loss management say that it is difficult to obtain meaningful results in less than two/three years. It is unusual that water loss decreases by more than 15% than the previous year. Thus, the city of Porto, where the amount of water loss dropped dramatically in just eight months, becomes a case study at national and international level, promoting the benchmarking with similar organisations and the transferability of this model.

Apart from environmental benefits, between 2006 and 2010, the reduction of water loss has resulted in cumulative savings of more than 517 million. In this period the ‘Porto Gravity Water Supply’ project has resulted in a decrease of 65.5% in the consumption of electricity used for pumping water, corresponding to economic savings of €271,000. It is also estimated that, between 2006 and 2010, the project has prevented the emission of 719 tonnes of CO2, contributing to promoting a low carbon regional economy.

The ‘Porto, a Water Sensitive City’ programme is also based on the drainage and treatment of wastewater. Within ‘Porto 100% Sewerage’ project, a campaign is ongoing to promote the connection from all houses of the city to the sewage system, as well as the elimination of illegal connections to stormwater network. There was a decrease in the pollution of Porto streams and its beaches are no longer prohibited for public health reasons; they are now starting to have good quality water. In June 2007, all the beaches of Porto obtained the designation of bathing areas.

Award info
Award category: going green
Award type: nominee
Award year: 2011
Project type
Sector: Environment, climate change, agriculture (incl. food safety) and fishery
Type of activity:
Keywords: Sustainability, water loss, water sensitive city, efficiency gains, population well-being, transferability
Short English description: The establishment of Aguas do Porto, in October 2006, brought a new perspective of water as a resource, with a determinant impact on life quality and socio-economic development of Porto city.
Further information
Organisation: Águas do Porto, EEM
Other applicants:
Homepage: http://www.aguasdoporto.pt; http://www.praiasdoporto.pt; http://www.ribeirasdoporto.pt
Level of government: local level
Size of organisation: >100
Number of people involved: >15
Country: Portugal
EU membership: EU member
Language code: en
Start date:
End date:


Porto, a water sensitive city - Sustainable management of urban water cycle (41.145153, -8.5908661)
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