BENIDORM – Not everyone would immediately associate Benidorm with sustainability. The city that was the cradle of Spain’s mass tourism has taken remarkable steps in sustainable water management. Which is not an unnecessary luxury in dry Spain.
The Costa Blanca tourist hotspot now ranks third worldwide, and first in Europe, in terms of water use efficiency. According to the International Water Association (IWA), only Tokyo and Singapore are doing better globally. This success is due to advanced technology and smart strategies in water management.
This achievement becomes even more remarkable when you realise that the city has barely more than 70,000 registered inhabitants, while this number increases to almost 400,000 in the summer months. And all those people want to shower, cook, swim, clean, etc.
Technology is key to success
To gain insight, Benidorm has analysed all water pipes using artificial intelligence to estimate their lifespan. This is done based on material, slope, and proximity to the surface. The goal is to replace critical pipelines before they cause problems. This proactive maintenance is crucial for maintaining the water supply and preventing leaks. All these analyses take place in the Dinapsis centre, where employees continuously monitor the movements of all the water.
Smart water management
The municipality has divided the city into different zones, in which water consumption is accurately measured. Any deviations between the incoming and consumed water indicate leaks. Digital cameras are periodically introduced into the sewer system to record and detect any obstructions, such as wipes or construction debris.
Prevention is better than cure
With accurate location data of problems, authorities can intervene quickly and effectively to resolve blockages and leaks. This approach helps prevent greater problems for the population and excessive water loss.
Efficient water use
Benidorm also has a lower water consumption per inhabitant per day (110-120 litres) than the Spanish average of 150 litres. This is partly due to the large numbers of day tourists, who do use water but have less impact on the water footprint. The city also uses regenerated seawater, for example in the beach showers.
Example in sustainability
Benidorm’s approach shows that sustainable water management is possible even in tourist hotspots. But that is not the only sustainability area in which the city excels. The city also serves as an example of a tourist destination that focuses on the circular economy and sustainability in other areas. The city was one of the first to introduce low-emission zones. Many hotels fall under the ICTE sustainability quality mark S.
From a distance, you will notice the skyscrapers that characterise the city, but if you take a walk in the city the feeling which dominates is very spacious. The amount of greenery and parks you’ll see is remarkable. However, that feeling of space is not just a feeling, because more than 32% of the surface in the city is in fact green and that is 12 points more than recommended by the EU. According to the World Health Organisation WHO, Benidorm is also one of the 7 cities in Spain where the air that people breathe is the healthiest.