Zlatna Panega water management and risk assessment
The TITAN Zlatna Panega Cement plant and nearby quarry are located in Zlatna Panega, Lovech region and are in proximity with environmentally "sensitive’’ water bodies: (a) the Glava Panega Lake, which is the main source of freshwater for plant operations and is fed by an underground natural spring and (b) the Zlatna Panega river that in turn is fed by the lake and is the receptor of plant’s water discharges. The lake and the river are within the ‘Karlukovo karst’ NATURA 2000 protection area. The lake is also a source of drinking water for local communities, which makes the operation in its vicinity more complicated and underlines the importance of controlling the freshwater quality and consumption.
The plant has been conscious about water-related issues, respecting local stakeholders’ water needs and uses, and for this reason has undertaken initiatives and made investments in improving efficiency and the overall water management in the Plant operations. A study on Hydrology-Hydrogeology was completed at the end of 2012, following a two-year survey program of surface water and groundwater, and covering the local watershed of Zlatna Panega, including the cement plant, the nearby quarry, and the surrounding residential areas. The objective was to understand the hydrogeological conditions in the scope areas and identify potential risks, in order to finally support the plant’s decisions for sustainable water management and use, with respect also to local communities.
Based on the results of the study, Zlatna Panega took one step further and applied the GEMI Local Water Tool (LWT), that is a ‘free ware’ tool for water risk assessment which helps to identify external impacts, business risks, and opportunities related to water use and discharge at a specific site or operation.
After identifying the natural water bodies that are ‘related’ to plant operations (water intake and discharge), it was possible through the tool to assess the local external conditions for each one, covering twenty water issues in the categories of: physical source characteristics and supply reliability, ecosystems, regulations, economics and social context. The combination of the external conditions with the importance level of each water body for the operations determined the risk level for our business, including the potential business liabilities as a result of external water-related drivers and constraints.
In a similar way, the site’s external impacts on the influent sources and the receiving water bodies were identified and ranked, in order to assess the extent to which the volume and/or quality of water used or discharged by our operations affect the availability of that water for other uses from local communities, or harm human health or ecosystems in any other way. Results of the water risk assessment through LWT showed that there is a moderate risk to our business and low impact from our operations to the water bodies.
The outcome of the study and the water risk assessment helped the Zlatna Panega plant develop a plan and a ‘‘roadmap’’ for sustainable water management, by mitigating impacts and risks, even though they were evaluated at low to moderate levels. Actions for the way forward in the coming years, include among others: awareness-raising activities for local stakeholders and water-relevant NGOs, engagement and partnership, further improvement in performance (i.e. increase the quantities of recycled and reused discharge water or apply rain water harvesting), efficient water and overall environmental management in the plant and quarry, and monitoring of groundwater quality through piezometric holes.