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Feasability study
Innovation in progress

Innovation in progress: unveiling Calzada del Agua’s solution

‘Calzada del agua’, a feasibility study in the Mexican city of Oaxaca is one of the promising projects that Partners for Water subsidises

To get a basic idea of what this project entails please read the introduction interview we conducted with Nahuel Beccan Davila, a partner at consortium member BD+P. José Antonio Tello, public affairs expert at consultancy firm Centro SC joins us for the second installment in this interview series.

‘We are the local partner for this project’, José explains. ‘Something you need in Mexico, because navigating the institutional, social, political and legal framework can be difficult. To give an example, there are three levels of government involved in this project. The Mexican water authority at the federal level, the state government which in this case operates the water utility and the municipality of Oaxaca. And because Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage city we also work with the office involved in protecting archeological and historical sites.’

Bringing stakeholders together

The municipality is the driving force behind the project – promoting, operating and implementing it. ‘Their support and leadership are important to gain the trust of other stakeholders’, José tells us. ‘We are constantly in the process of working out how to best navigate this complex framework and bringing stakeholders together. We, for example, organise workshops and get more in-depth through one-on-one conversations. In addition, since this project is international, we also smooth over time zone and language differences.’

Important social places

Rainwater that would normally go straight into the sewage system is captured, filtrated and reused with the BlueBloqs technology. The project site was carefully chosen; a piped river runs underneath the street and furthermore there is natural aquifer. José adds: ‘Although there are more projects like this in Mexico, what makes this one unique is that we directly link the captured water to the end user, in this case a local market. Not only do they need lots of water, but markets are also important social places in Oaxaca. This way we hope to make our efforts visible to the larger public.’

Institutional frameworks

‘The technology works, and we can adapt it to the local context and conditions, but that’s not the biggest challenge. The difficulty for a project like this lies in navigating our legal and institutional frameworks. We are not quite as ready yet as, for example, you in the Netherlands. We are in close contact with regulators to ensure we get the right authorisation from them. We also formalise and explain everything we do. This way we earn the trust of all parties involved.’

What makes this project unique is that we directly link the captured water to the end user

Natural track to follow

Stakeholders are very interested in the scalability of the programme due to the water shortages in Mexico. ‘The opportunities and needs to do so are there’, José tells us. ‘This project is a first insight into how feasible it is. If we do scale up, of course there will be new challenges like finding other suitable locations to capture and filtrate water and finding the right end users. But, I believe that once this method has successfully been demonstrated, scaling up will be the natural track to follow.’

‘The Dutch government and PfW have been very supportive of this initiative. And they’ve been a role model to us as well, demonstrating how to work together with international stakeholders. So, I hope the Dutch government support continues so that we can keep finding innovative ways of establishing efficient methods for collaboration. This way we can make sure that the local adaptations of this great idea stay as close as possible to the original plan.’

Innovation in progress series

During the Partners for Water programme 2022 – 2027, several projects that received the Partners for Water subsidy will be followed from start to finish. Over the next few years, they will take you with them on their transformative journey. You’ll be able to gain insights into their promising solutions, innovative processes and collaborations with local partners, as well as their struggles, challenges and valuable lessons learned. Stay tuned and follow their journey through the Partners for Water website and our LinkedIn page!

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