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Technical Assistance: Methane Utilization and Nutrient Recovery in Selected Municipalities of Panama

20 March 2024|Briefing note

On March 14, 2024, a key training session was held in Panama City, focused on the implementation of the circular economy in the drinking water and sanitation sector. This meeting, organized in the Management Hall of the Panama Canal Authority, featured the presence of international and local experts, who shared knowledge and methodologies for methane utilization and nutrient recovery in selected municipalities of Panama.

The day began with welcome words from His Excellency Mr. Joachim Christoph Schmillen, Ambassador of Germany in Panama, followed by presentations from prominent representatives of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), National Water Council (CONAGUA), National Institute of Aqueducts and Sewers (IDAAN), Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Panama, and ECLAC, who highlighted the importance of moving towards a sustainable and inclusive water transition.

During the first session, Dr. Silvia Saravia Matus, Economic Affairs Officer in charge of water issues at ECLAC, and Ms. Natalia Sarmanto, Sustainability Expert at ECLAC, presented the relevance of the regional context and the roadmap to achieve efficient water management. Subsequently, Mr. Diego Fernández, Senior Expert at ECLAC, introduced the circular economy approach applied to the sector, followed by a presentation by Mr. Antonio Santos on nutrient recovery in wastewater treatment systems, with a specific vision for Panama.

The event also included the presentation of the Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) of Puerto Armuelles, Montijo, and Soná, offering a platform to discuss practices and technologies applicable locally. The methodology session, led by expert Mr. Pedro Chavarro, focused on the estimation and utilization of methane in the Soná WWTP, a vital component for environmental sustainability and energy efficiency.

The working groups, moderated by ECLAC experts, allowed participants to apply the proposed methodology to the Soná WWTP, culminating in a results presentation session, led by Mr. Alfredo Muntañez, Financial Expert in Water and Sanitation Sector at ECLAC, which highlighted the investment estimation and financial evaluation needed to implement these innovative practices. The initial calculations made in the workshop for the project's WWTPs yielded promising results that will be explored and detailed in upcoming meetings with national partners, to better understand the financial viability of the project.

The day concluded with final reflections by Mr. Diego Fernández and Dr. Silvia Saravia Matus from ECLAC, who reiterated the commitment to the continuous improvement of the water and sanitation sector in Panama and thanked the active participation of all involved.

This meeting marked a step forward in Panama's commitment to sustainable water management, highlighting the crucial role of the circular economy and international collaboration to face current and future challenges in the sector.

The workshop was financed by ROSA, UNPDF, and GIZ.
You can find the materials used here.
View photos here.