Tackling Water Loss, Climate Resilience, and Bringing Transformative Technologies to Spain

April 10, 2024
ASTERRA Profile Photo

Spain is one European country seeing a steady increase in population growth, along with an uptick in urbanization. While scaling up efforts in digitization are now in progress, Spain’s infrastructure is largely ancient – some existing even from the Roman Empire.

In Spain, modern infrastructure was installed in larger cities, but even in those cities, ancient infrastructure remains. Since humanity desires the retention of historic landmarks, infrastructure challenges persist. The maintenance and expansion of both old and new infrastructure is fraught with issues, such as water loss, wastewater leaks, and risk of damage to property or persons from natural disasters.

It’s easy to see why the Spanish population is on a growth trend. Getting around by train is efficient, with new and easy ways to navigate train stations, the weather is temperate, and the scenery is beautiful.

Continuing the positive development, Spain is in a proactive phase regarding its rail, roads, airports, mines, dams, and levees infrastructure. Its officials are taking proactive action that will protect the citizens and tourists of today, while setting it up for growth and development through the rest of the century.

To this end, Spain is host to the International Water Association (IWA) Water Loss Conference in Donostia-San Sebastián, April 14-17, 2024. The main objective of this conference is to present and discuss the latest advances, strategies, techniques, and applications of international best practices for water management. ASTERRA is a conference sponsor and will meet clients, influencers, and friends at booth 10 where they’ll discuss ASTERRA satellite-based infrastructure intelligence as a method for risk prevention for roads, railways, dams, levees, property, and mining operations.


At #WaterLoss2024, ASTERRA’s Jonathan Jacobi will share how our technology secures the drinking water supply, provides drought resilience, and supports risk and disaster prevention efforts. ASTERRA solutions accomplish this by detecting and analyzing underground soil moisture wherever it may predict or potentially cause critical infrastructure to fail. As a satellite-based solution, EarthWorks can assess up to 40 linear miles and 1,400 sq miles (64 km and 3600 sq km) at once, bringing significantly greater efficiency than any other traditional method for maintaining the resilience of infrastructure that protects lives, property, and the environment.

Here is how the solution works. From a 390-mile orbit, EarthWorks detects soil moisture using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to peer up to 10 feet (3m) below the surface. This information is combined with patented algorithms and proven artificial intelligence and a GIS solution to provide maps and actionable data. This avoids the time and cost of ground crews, sensors, complex lab procedures, and the destruction of terrain by gathering samples. EarthWorks assessments are easily repeated at chosen intervals to show changes over time.

Spain is in the early phases of the digitization of the water cycle. This digitization is a European Union-supported government initiative and involves significant grant funding. Called the Plan of Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PERTE), the common objective of the plan is to promote the use of new information technologies in the integral water cycle in order to improve its management, increase its efficiency, reduce losses in supply networks, and advance in compliance with the environmental objectives set by hydrological planning and international regulations.

Based on a 2023 report, Spain must improve and support its integrated water resources management. This includes acting as agents of change in numerous ways:

  • using innovation
  • maintaining attention to climate
  • awareness of water scarcity
  • tracking citizen demands for water
  • reviewing their economic positions (which can be poor in many regions of Spain).

This plan and related requirements are driving changes to the market. This is where ASTERRA stands out. ASTERRA, the best practice for water infrastructure monitoring, can guide public service utilities of all kinds, making this transition efficient and sustainable for the long term. ASTERRA recently announced contracts in Brazil and in other rapidly developing regions with old infrastructure, including highly populated areas.

Where there are unstable water sources and infrastructure in Spain, some of the ancient infrastructure remains, including Roman water infrastructure. Notable examples include the Aqueduct of Segovia Cordoba, Valencia (Valentia Edetanorum), Tarragona, and various other regions. These aqueducts were crucial for supplying water to important cities during Roman times and they showcase advanced engineering skills for that era.

In some situations, preserved ancient structures such as the Alcázar of Seville, reveal past historical eras but still solve modern problems. At the Alcázar, when problem-solving modern water issues in the Patio del Yeso, they discovered the Patio de la Monteria and its ancient water channels. ASTERRA EarthWorks could have revealed this without destruction, in less time, and much sooner.

In a New York Times article, it was described that crews in remote, mountain regions in Spain are digging out and utilizing 1000-year-old water channels to aid in locating and capturing needed water, which is scarce as a result of the drought resulting from climate change. These teams can put their picks and shovels down, because ASTERRA can locate subsurface water, making it easy for these remote regions to locate water sources and develop their infrastructure.

ASTERRA can guide Spain to be less reliant on ancient infrastructure by simply and efficiently introducing modern satellite infrastructure solutions to serve their communities. Today’s Spain has the benefit of using satellites and artificial intelligence to monitor its vast regions in maintaining and building infrastructure. ASTERRA often works with local market partners to provide a comprehensive solution. This is proven to reduce labor hours of boots on the ground and time finding leaks (up to three times faster), to save energy, water, lives, and money.

Image 1: New development near the Valencia Estacio Nord is complicated due to the ancient infrastructure and the combination of trains, underground metro system, and pedestrians in one of the busiest districts in the city.

Image 2: It is common to carve out pathways in ancient buildings for modern water access, but monitoring this infrastructure for hidden leaks is not as common. This made easy with ASTERRA.

Image 3: In Valencia, the periodic and devastating floods of the Turia River led to the river’s diversion to a create a park, which is enjoyed by millions yearly. Monitoring the points of diversion and the new channels created is a critical function.

Please contact us to learn more about ASTERRA’s solutions.

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