Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI) Endorsed at Arab Water Week

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  • 2017/03/31     Amman, Jordan

    Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA

    Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA

    By Atiqah Fairuz Salleh, Communications and Advocacy

    Reusing resources is a central dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, as can be seen in the emphasis on wastewater use in SDG 6 and in particular Target 6.3. The Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI) has been developed to encourage wastewater use in line with SDG Target 6.3 and monitor countries’ ability to meet this target.

    At the 2017 Arab Water Week in Amman, Jordan last week, UNU-FLORES, together with United Nations Programme on Human Settlements (UN-Habitat) and the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA), organised a pilot testing and validation workshop on the new monitoring methodology.

    Mr Tawfeeq Habashneh, Secretary General of the Water Authority of Jordan delivering opening remarks at the workshop on 22 March. (Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA)

    Mr Tawfeeq Habashneh, Secretary General of the Water Authority of Jordan delivering opening remarks at the workshop on 22 March. (Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA)

    Inaugurated by the Secretary General of the Water Authority of Jordan, Mr Tawfeeq Habashneh, the workshop discussed the challenges of effective wastewater monitoring and sought feedback on the WREI prototype methodology. In his welcome remarks, Mr Habashneh mentioned that workshop participants would benefit from guidance on indicators and approaches to monitoring, which include institutional as well as socioeconomic aspects of wastewater planning and management. At the end of the workshop, Representatives of the Governments of Oman, Palestine, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia, Indonesia and Brazil endorsed WREI as an integrative monitoring tool for SDG Target 6.3.

    The concept of a Wastewater Reuse Effectiveness Index (WREI) was welcomed as a useful monitoring tool to assist Member States’ policy and technical decision-making processes.

    Day 1 of the two-day (22–23 March) workshop discussed key issues and opportunities with regard to monitoring SDG Target 6.3. Participants discussed  the choice of indicators for an index as well as lessons emerging from the development of the WREI prototype in Brazil and Indonesia. Water scarcity and water quality issues drive the water reuse development agenda. Based on the São Paulo experience of pilot testing the prototype, participants also discussed the issue of sludge management (from wastewater treatment processes) and the importance of considering both biophysical and institutional indicators.

    The second day of the workshop was devoted to discussing key capacity development opportunities that could be exploited. Thinking about the need to build robust national systems as a precursor to establishing a global monitoring system, the role of national and regional universities, research and training institutes, and think tanks was discussed. The inclusion of these entities is crucial for hypothesis testing, index construction, calibration, scenario analysis, and benchmarking. The workshop illustrated that several opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas between regions – Asia, Europe, and South America – exist. The participation of the German Wastewater Utilities Federation (DWA) enabled information sharing on technological and planning and management practices and standards from Europe.

    Mr Rüdiger Heidebrecht (DWA) participates in workshop discussions on wastewater use. (Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA)

    Mr Rüdiger Heidebrecht (DWA) participates in workshop discussions on wastewater use. (Image: Sarah Awamleh/ACWUA)

    In their closing remarks, Dr Graham Alabaster (UN-Habitat) and Eng. Khaldon Khashman (ACWUA) committed themselves to working with UNU-FLORES on preparing a work plan within the next three months to develop regional capacity in support of the implementation of WREI as a monitoring tool for SDG Target 6.3. The workshop also discussed and adopted a final communiqué on behalf of 11 countries that attended the meeting.

    UN-Habitat and UNU-FLORES highlighted the key issues from the workshop communiqué in their presentations at the Expert Group Meeting (EGM) convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (UN-ESCWA) on 23 March at the Arab Water Week.