Dwarf gull, garganey and whiskered tern are just three of approximately 120 bird species that take refuge in the aquatic habitat and surrounding area of a water treatment lagoon system in the Spanish town of Medina del Campo. While some species live there permanently, others stop in for a rest each year during their migratory passage.

With the help of funding from IFM’s community grants program, water management company Aqualia is partnering with bird conservation organisation SEO Birdlife to continue work on restoring the lagoon ecosystem.

Our community grants program aims to support portfolio companies to collaborate with community organisations on projects that produce locally-focused environmental and/or social benefits.

The restoration of the Medina del Campo lagoons began in 2008 when Aqualia commenced its waste water treatment plant operations adjacent to the lagoon system. Aqualia observed that the purification ponds had become a recurring stop for birds during migration. Instead of replacing the old wastewater filtering system, the company opted to protect and maintain it. Aqualia launched a sustainable water purification and re-use project that has increased biodiversity, water quality and water level stability in the lagoon ecosystem.

The construction of nests on the water’s surface and amongst the vegetation around the lagoons has helped to create conditions that have attracted growing numbers and species of birds. Each year, SEO Birdlife conducts a census of the lagoon system’s bird population and variety of species. Bird populations have increased since the project began, and at last count, the annual population numbered approximately 8,600 birds. Since November 2020, five new species to the area were recorded, including the Savi’s warbler (pictured) – the first sighting in the province in five years.


Plans to modify the wetlands with constructed islands are scheduled to commence at the end of summer following this year’s migratory season. Recycled materials from works in the local area will be used to build the islands. The materials will be subject to stringent testing to ensure they do not contain polluting elements.

An important part of the project is the creation of an environmental classroom for local schoolchildren that aims to increase environmental awareness and understanding. Cameras have been set up at the lagoons to facilitate virtual tours until in-person tours are possible, subject to COVID-19-related restrictions.


The Savi’s warbler


Aqualia recognises that the activities of the end-to-end water cycle are an integral part of the natural environment and caring for the environment is intrinsic in the day-to-day management of these services. The company’s partnership with SEO Birdlife to restore the lagoon system supports the sustainable treatment of waste water while also helping to increase and protect the biodiversity of this local ecosystem.

At IFM, we believe that it is important for the long-term success of our infrastructure investments that they actively contribute to the sustainability of their local communities. Our 2020 Community Grants Program has helped to fund nine projects across the globe, and we look forward to supporting more projects through our 2021 program, which opened for applications in July.

Media release: IFM Investors 2020 Community Grants Program