SEE* H2O – A new vision about the water use
City/Region : Loures Municipality , Portugal

Loures is embracing a new vision when it comes to water: adding value to the resource during all urban cycle, betting on an active monitoring, sharing knowledge amongst the citizens and involving stakeholders and interested parts.

This mind set results in a panoply of guidelines: Water Lines Recovery Strategic Plan, Hydrographic Network Monitoring Plan, Municipal Strategy for Environmental Education and, connecting them all, Water Sustainability Plan (on development).

All of this is resulting in a bunch of practical actions that are improving the value of the water on Loures’s territory.

Agendas addressed
DecarbonisationBiodiversityGreenfield land and natural space
Water resources and air qualityClimate changePublic space
Social inclusion and integrationLocal economies and employment
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Guarantee equal access to information & digital services
  • Support open data standards
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation
Oil Collecting Point - Env Education

Loures is a municipality that counts with 260 000 inhabitants, 167,24 square meters of area and 250 linear kilometres of water lines on it. Considering the huge presence of water on Loures territory, it was used in the past as a way of transportation and for recreational uses. Loures is a satellite municipality of Portugal’s capital, and it was hitted by the industrialization process and the pollution associated to it – the quality of the water lines was highly degraded. Despite that, nowadays is still a very used resource, particularly for the agriculture. Because of the land typology, Loures was also hitted by historical floods, and this situation can get worse with the climate change.

The Municipality is now working actively to improve the water lines and to add value to the water resource as a whole, positively influencing the resource among all the cycle.

In Action
Cleaning Intervention - Before and After

Loures is working actively on the axes:

Restore and Preserve – On the first place, an intensive study about Loures’ Hydrographic Network was done. With this study, the municipality was able to find out how to approach the maintenance and what are the priority points that need intervention. We have now a team dedicated to clean the water lines from waste and invasive species and several renaturalization projects ongoing (that are connected to territory adaptation to climate change).

Monitor – Loures Municipality is betting on monitoring to measure the improvement. All the water lines are monitored, in strategic places, covering chemical and bacteriological analysis. We have a real time sensor that gives the municipality information about the biggest water line of Loures: Trancão river. This sensor is connected to an IoT network that helps the technicians from the Municipality to act on time and on a preventive way. Fauna and flora registers are done too, in order to understand the biodiversity dynamics.

Educate – Loures has a strong environmental education strategy based in three pillars: Society Decarbonisation; Circular Economy and Enhance the Territory.  Connected to the last pillar, Loures is offering several activities connected to the biodiversity protection and water lines knowledge and promotion (taking the participants to the field). Still regarding environmental education but touching on the next axis, Loures installed an intelligent oil collection network (with sensors, avoiding unnecessary displacements), evolving all the schools in a contest whose the winner is the school that deposits more oil per capita. Loures was also giving training to the landowners next to the water lines in order for them to know how to preserve the resource.

Enhance the territory – Loures is working actively to improve the quality of the water, giving the water lines back to the population. On top of what was already mention, Loures is planning a huge urban park all connected to water, located on floodplain area.

Involvement - This axis is consummated by the Water Sustainability Plan (that touches in the entire above axes), that involve stakeholders with responsibilities during all the water cycle (AdTA, responsible for the wastewater treatment and SIMAR responsible for water supply). It should be noted that this plan gives a huge importance to the water use efficiency but one of the ambitions is to introduce treated wastewater (promoting circular economy) mostly on the agriculture field.

WaterLines Monitorization


Quotes from Mayor:

  •  “Water is an essential resource and, therefore, it must be preserved as a public good, managed in the public sphere”
  • about the works on the water lines: “It’s not from today. Loures is been actively working on catastrophe prevention and, most of the times, this is not visible for the most of the people”

•             During 2018, 115 756 m2 of water lines were cleaned, and during 2019, a total of 334 200 m2. This number is improving every year as the number of employees working on it (actually we have 10 full time employees working on it);

•             11 million euros’ project to implement structures to avoid floods on the lowest area of Loures’s territory;

•             Renaturalization of 9873 linear meters of water lines already in progress and a work starting this year (planned to August) to improve more 34500 m2 (water lines and surroundings);

•             36 landowners involved;

•             1 225 autochthonous trees to plant on the renaturalization ongoing project and 2 205 to be planted on the project that will star this year;

•             12 069 chemical and bacteriological parameters analysis done since 2017 on the field, 14 400 results from the real time sensor;

•             129 flora and 47 fauna species already identified;

•             Around 12271 children were involved in environmental education actions focused on biodiversity and on the value of the territory, since 2017 – all done by 9 full time employees;

•             Around 45 000 litres of alimentary oil collected (since 2018) corresponding to a saving of 45 000 000 000 litres of water to be polluted by the oil;

•             A necessity of 3 048 000 m3 of water for agriculture that can be switched to treated wastewater promoting circular economy and emitting less GHG (on planning phase).


When the Municipality started the implementation of this strategy were looking for social and environmental impacts that result from the change on living conditions of the society that inhabits the territory.

The water resource management is now oriented for the sustainability and resilience and it is working as a significant area of intervention to promote better behaviours and a new way of looking at the resource, not just as drinking water, but giving importance to the resource during all the cycle as the basis of the world as we know it.

Working together with the population, the private sector (stakeholders), entities that are connected to the territory (as NGOs and universities), Loures found a way to project and perpetuate the results among the time. Engaged citizens are, without any doubts, the most important actors for the change.

When we look for the water as a resource, we find now:

•             that 100% of the drinking water is safe and reliable,

•             a more efficient way of using it by the inhabitants and industries;

•             a more resilient territory being prepared to face climate change impacts;

•             promotion of circular economy looking to close the entire loop;

•             a strong governance connecting all these dots and involving all the interested parts.

Challenges and lessons learned
  • Planning is the first step to achieve success. The second step is to bet on a sustained surveillance and maintenance in order to be able to control and measure results – only like this you will be capable of keeping the improvement;
  • Public participation and stakeholders’ involvement are a key action to engage people to achieve the wanted results;
  • Disseminating the results is an effective way to take the outcomes to other territories, breaking the municipality boundaries.

*SEE - S stands for Sensibilização (Awareness), E stands for Eficiência (Efficiency) and E stands for Economia Circular (Circular Economy) 




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