Cementos Molins and Damm join CUADLL’s project to recharge the Vall Baixa del Llobregat aquifer

They join the Community of Water Users of the Vall Baixa and Delta del Llobregat, whose objective is to improve the management of the Llobregat’s groundwater.

Cementos Molins and Damm have announced their participation in an innovative project led by the Community of Water Users of the Vall Baixa and Llobregat Delta (CUADLL). This initiative aims to expand the ponds in the vicinity of the Llobregat River to improve the sustainable use of groundwater in Catalonia. Through the construction of elements for capturing and channelling water from the river, it is hoped that the aquifer will be recharged, improving both its quantitative and qualitative state.

The aquifer of the Vall Baixa and Delta del Llobregat is vital for the region, as it allows optimal use of groundwater, equivalent to an annual production of approximately 60 hm3, comparable to the capacity of the desalination and treatment plant of El Prat, the largest in Europe for urban supply. To guarantee its sustainable use, a set of recharge infrastructures has been designed, including the Molins de Rei reservoirs.

The Molins de Rei recharge ponds consist of a catchment in the river, a small settling pond and four infiltration ponds, covering a total of 14,000 m2. Its construction has been carried out in two phases, the first of which was carried out between 2021 and 2022 and was financed by CUADLL and the Interreg Sudoe Programme through the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF). The second phase of the project, which began in 2024, is co-financed by Cementos Molins and Damm, whose headquarters are located in Baix Llobregat. Both companies also own wells in the Vall Baixa and delta aquifer.

According to Carlos Martínez, director of corporate development and sustainability at Cementos Molins: “We are committed to sustainable development and we are proud to collaborate in this project that seeks to preserve water resources in Catalonia. This initiative is a perfect example of Cementos Molins’ commitment to the environment, to local communities and to companies and entities that share our same purpose. We can only achieve our goals through our joint work and effort”.

According to Enric Queralt, technical director of CUADLL, “The recharge ponds are a good measure to ensure that a natural infrastructure such as the aquifer has a greater and better storage capacity. We must achieve a sustainable aquifer, so that in situations of drought like the one we are experiencing, it can supply more water to the metropolitan area of Barcelona”.

In view of the current drought, the project proposes connecting the new reservoirs to the regenerated water from the ERA (water regeneration station) of El Prat, thus closing the water cycle. This innovative solution allows for the re-infiltration of the reclaimed water into the aquifer, which contributes to its natural self-purification and improves its quality. The project is aligned with the concept of Nature-based Solutions (NBS), recognising the fundamental role of ecosystems in human well-being. In addition to improving the groundwater resource in a sustainable way, the project has a positive impact on the water footprint, allowing participating companies to reduce their environmental impact.

The location of the ponds has been selected according to hydrogeological criteria, being one of the most efficient infiltration areas of the river in the Vall Baixa, and due to its proximity to the wetlands of Molins de Rei, which allows an ecological complementarity between both infrastructures.

This collaboration represents a step forward in the search for innovative solutions to improve water management in Catalonia, while demonstrating the strong commitment of both companies to local communities.

Other initiatives implemented
Damm, aware of the need to make more efficient use of water, in 2009 launched a series of investments in the El Prat de Llobregat plant that has enabled it to reduce water consumption by 34% for each litre of beer bottled, going from 6.78 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of beer bottled to 4.5. This translates into a saving of 1 hm3 of water that is no longer extracted from the aquifer annually, despite a 60% increase in production. Furthermore, in line with its commitment to the circular economy, 80% of the water used in the brewery is returned to the system for reuse.

Cementos Molins, for its part, has managed to reduce its water consumption at its Sant Vicenç dels Horts facilities by 21% compared to previous years. The company has used artificial intelligence to redesign the optimisation system of the vertical raw mill, which, together with other production improvements, allows it to save up to 30% of the annual water consumption in this industrial process. In addition, all the concrete plants now have closed water circuits, collecting water in settling ponds. Seventy-five per cent of them use recycled water both for washing tanks and in the manufacture of concrete.