CRYSTAL CLEAR

Panama 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

Hydrexa Latam seeks to help Panama develop its economy by bringing clean water and sanitation systems to the most remote areas.

Leonardo Carreño
BIOGRAPHY
Leonardo Carreño has over 20 years of experience as a Chemical Engineer and founder of companies in the sector of drinking water and basic sanitation. He is specialist in Integrated Environmental Management. Also, he has 13 years as a founding partner of Hydrexa Latin America, 1 year as a founding partner of Hydrexa Peru and 15 years as a founding partner of IFM SAS in Colombia.

What are some success stories of water-related projects in Panama?

Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro has seen success in tourism. A decade ago, the first water project took place there, and from there the area grew. We brought the technology, all built in Colombia, and in less than 60 days the plant was ready to operate. We have done direct filtering projects that are not known in Panama. Raw drinking water comes from the mountains, and it passes through a conditioning system to strain away all the pollutants. It is a filtration system that uses a storage tank. We have not only managed to significantly reduce processing time, but also the space required. It takes less space and fewer man hours, which makes water treatment technology more practical.

Who are your clients and strategic allies in the Panamanian market?

We have found support from the National Council for Sustainable Development (CONADES). It invests in drinking water and sanitation in rural areas. IDAAN has asked us for support, technology, and services in sanitation and drinking water. As for the private sector, there are companies in the construction sector with their own engineering projects. We have supported them, along with multinational companies, as well.

Would you like to explore more markets in the region?

One of the objectives for 2020-2021 is to expand our operations to Central America and the Caribbean, specifically in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. There are fantastic possibilities and opportunities.

What sectors would you like to cover in Panama?

We are interested in providing water for the food and beverage sector. Seven liters of water are needed to produce one liter of beer. The residue must be used and treated to comply with the regulations. Panama is avoiding imports and is giving support to the local agricultural sector. That support means opportunities for us. There is a great deal of talk about the exploitation and importation of copper. There is a lot of export of fruit in the north of the country, in Chiriquí and Bocas. The agricultural sector is growing in the north of the country.

What is your contribution to the development of Panama?

We sell all kinds of technology for the welfare of the population. In addition, we target development objectives. We aim to improve the quality of drinking water and sanitation. Furthermore, we have found rewarding projects in communities that have never had easy access to clean water. They appreciate our work, and that motivates us to continue. Our commitment has always been to see the development of the communities. If you have clean water, the development of a community happens naturally. Piña is a small town in Darién that never had much clean water, but today it has quality water and the opportunity to expand its tourism sector. It can reduce the levels of water contamination that leads to gastrointestinal illness. This commitment has led us to operate in different sectors of Panama that need water treatment and sanitation.

What other projects do you have in the process?

Panama has a plan to develop more drinking water and wastewater projects. Both have materialized in the sanitation facility along Panama Bay, and the plant is now operational after three years. Also, Arraiján already has a sanitation program. All these projects outside the city have a massive impact. Nowadays, Coronado has impressive population growth. That is the goal. In Colón, another of our flagship projects, there is progress. Additionally, Alto de Los Lagos is a housing project where the outgoing president developed 5,500 homes, and we built the wastewater treatment plant. The government has invested in improving the quality of life, and that means water and sanitation projects. There are interesting things coming up.