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  • Dear Readers!

    This editorial was written and ready for print and focused primarily on the EU’s Green Deal. And then coronavirus spread around the world and the text had to be revised. Despite the current situation, though, the Green Deal remains one of the most important projects for the European circular economy. And many other things have happened as well – the question surrounding DSD, for example.

    It is now official. On 22 April 2020, the first Cartel Panel of the Higher Regional Court [Oberlandesgericht] of Düsseldorf dismissed our appeal against the Cartel Office’s decision. Their ruling surprised us as we were sure that we had the better arguments in favour of us acquiring Duales System Deutschland GmbH. But we live under the rule of law and we will, of course, accept their decision. What we need to do now is to take the time required to take a detailed look at the Panel’s reasons for dismissing our appeal and then carefully decide what our next steps should be. In light of the fact that all other major competitors operate in this market, it will be interesting to see to what extent REMONDIS will get involved in the Dual System in the future.

    It is not so easy to look ahead at the moment, though, faced with the current coronavirus emergency. When the first media reports came through on 29 December last year that China had informed the WHO that it had an unexplained cluster of people suffering from an unidentified lung disease, no one realised just how hard or how fast this virus would affect the globalised economy. It is practically impossible to estimate the costs incurred by the economy grounding to a halt as a result of the virus. And it is not just the private sector that has felt the impact. Many city and district authorities were already in financial difficulties before the crisis began. Their situation can only get worse, now that their revenue from local business tax and their takings from their local amenities have plummeted. Maybe it is time to set aside old arguments and enter into long-term partnerships with the private sector that will benefit both parties – especially when it comes to delivering essential public services. Setting up public private joint ventures dedicated to providing essential services could help mitigate the consequences of the crisis. At the end of the day, ‘a load shared is a load halved’. One positive coming from these unprecedented times is the increased sense of solidarity among the population and towards many sections of the economy. REMONDIS, too, is there to help and support its municipal partners – during this crisis more than ever.

    Past pandemics have rarely lasted longer than two years. At some stage – whether with or without a vaccine – public life and business will return to normal. This will be the moment when it will become clear to all that our planet’s biggest problem – climate change – has not solved itself. Once again, the spotlight will be turned on the European Union’s Green Deal. Looking at a list published from within the EU, there is a danger of important regulations being watered down, especially in the area of the circular economy. In contrast, the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, expressly advises against neglecting climate action and environmental protection following the Covid-19 crisis in its ad-hoc statement published on 14 April 2020. In fact, it recommends the exact opposite. The economy must be kick-started so that it can grow again and should, it says, be “guided more firmly than before by considerations of sustainability, not least because this offers vast potential for economic growth.” Climate change is and will continue to be the biggest challenge for the future and REMONDIS, being one of the leading water and recycling businesses, will continue to put forward its solutions and play an important role.

    With this in mind: stay safe and stay positive.

    Thomas Conzendorf

The danger of flooding

  • Climate change has created a number of problems including a noticeable increase in heavy rainfall. In 2014, for example, 292 litres/m2 of rain fell on the City of Münster within just seven hours. In 2017, the low pressure system named “Alfred” battered the Harz region with days of heavy rainfall (over 300 litres/m2), causing damage in and around Goslar that ran into an eight-figure sum.

The importance of early warning systems

The LoRaWAN concept – the result of the collaboration work between EURAWASSER and WALTER tecyard – has now been installed to warn Goslar in good time when heavy rainfall is likely, so that it can adjust its flood-control reservoirs and better protect its residents and infrastructure. These reservoirs are there to direct floodwater out of the sewer system when the weather is bad and take the pressure off the downstream open drainage systems.

“This buys us a great deal of time – enabling us to make the best use of the flood-control reservoirs and sewer networks and so relieve the pressure on the open water system when there is heavy rainfall.”

Michael Figge, Managing Director of EURAWASSER

Technology-based warning with LoRaWAN sensors

“Different types of data, such as the level of the water in the flood-water reservoirs and the amount of rainfall, are monitored in real time and then transmitted using LoRaWAN sensors. Thanks to this energy-efficient system, we will be able to handle situations – like the one in 2017 – better in the future,” explained Benedikt Winkelmann, managing director of WALTER tecyard. This data is sent by radio transmission with LoRaWAN to the internet and from there to the mobile devices of the employees on duty and to the control centres. They can then detect critical situations in good time and use the information to forecast the filling of the flood-control reservoirs.

Valuable time saved

“This buys us a great deal of time – enabling us to make the best use of the flood-control reservoirs and sewer networks and so relieve the pressure on the open water system when there is heavy rainfall. This, of course, also benefits the town’s infrastructure and protects the local residents,” commented Michael Figge, managing director of EURAWASSER. This should help minimise major damage to private buildings, the public infrastructure and water facilities and reduce the workload of the emergency services – so that the town never has to suffer again as it did in 2017.

Expediting smart cities

Besides delivering data that enables dynamic control and warnings, LoRaWAN sensor networks also provide highly relevant data that can be used for improving and validating models as well as for future integrated infrastructure and town planning processes. Goslar, for example, will be using the LoRaWAN system for its winter services in the future. By measuring temperatures and moisture levels around the city, it can forecast changes in the weather so that gritters can be organised and deployed more efficiently. By doing so, other components of the infrastructure can be integrated, thus providing additional information that is vital during critical events. The technology is, therefore, helping to optimise EURAWASSER’s everyday work and paving the way for Goslar to become a smart city.

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