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Identifying best available technologies for decentralized wastewater treatment and resource recovery for India

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Saraswati 2.0 (Identifying best available technologies for decentralized wastewater treatment and resource recovery for India)

Reporting period: 2020-08-01 to 2022-01-31

Saraswati 2.0 is building on the work conducted and results achieved in the FP7 EU India project Saraswati (Supporting consolidation, replication and up-scaling of sustainable wastewater treatment and reuse technologies for India). This project had, as first of its kind, conducted a comprehensive documentation (around 1.500 plants) and evaluation of existing decentralized wastewater treatment plants in India. It had shown that a number of decentralized wastewater treatment plants in India do not perform properly and that there are few plants that would meet the more stringent standards as those proposed by the Indian Government in 2015. Thus, in many cases not even CATNAP (the cheapest available technology narrowly avoiding prosecution) has been applied, leading to high pollution levels. The Saraswati project therefore proposed to adopt the principle of BAT (best available technologies) in a more flexible way, adapting the definition of BAT to the local context, based on complementing the treatment efficiency with the costs of the treatment technology and affordability, and local context in the location of application. This will allow to identify BATs with more stringent standards if required and suitable for the location.

Hence, the vast environmental pollution caused by untreated wastewater across India is not tackled in an efficient manner as far as decentralized wastewater treatment plants are concerned. This in turn leads to adverse environmental and health effects for society.

Saraswati 2.0 aims at addressing this situation by identifying best available as well as affordable technologies for decentralized wastewater treatment with scope of resource/energy recovery and reuse in rural and urban areas. Thereby, ten pilot technologies in 7 Indian States demonstrating enhanced removal of organic pollution (BOD, TSS), nutrients (particularly Nitrogen), organic micro-pollutants and pathogens will be piloted. All pilots allow for resource recovery contributing to the principles of a circular economy and will undergo a comprehensive performance assessment complemented by an extended sustainability assessment. This will allow identification of BATs for the Indian context. In addition, suitable automation and control strategies will be tested and recommended, taking into account the presence of operators and their level of knowledge and expertise.
The work has been organized in the following thematic work packages:


Work package 2: Piloting candidates for BATs
The work started in P1 has been continued. Pilots 2,3,7 and 8 have been implemented in P2. The remaining pilots will be implemented in P3.

Work package 3: Monitoring experimental work and performance assessment
For those pilots implemented in P2, monitoring has started.

Work package 4: Automation and control
Basic control strategies have been proposed for pilots 2,3 and 4.

Work package 5: Sustainability assessments and BATs
Due to the delay of pilot implementation, the work in P2 has focused on preliminary work, developing templates for data collection and literature reviews. Two papers related to this work were published.

Work package 6: Dissemination, communication and exploitation
Tasks due in P2 were delayed due to the overall delay of the project, particularly of pilot implementation, which resulted in the inexistence of project updates to be effectively shared under the framework of the dissemination campaign. However, work under WP6 is planned to start moving ahead more actively as pilot implementation move forward during the upcoming months.

Work package 7: Management
An on-line consortium meeting was held in March 2021.
1. Progress beyond the state of the art
Progress beyond the state of the art is on the one side related to the piloted technologies. For each piloted technology, based on a review of the state of the art, knowledge gaps have been identified. The progress beyond the state of the art will be to close or contribute to closing the identified knowledge gaps. As a result, it is expected that the technology readiness levels can be increased for all piloted technologies by 1-3 levels.
On the other side, it is related to the developing of automation and control strategies for the piloted technologies. By an advancing the Human Machine Interface and defining the operator capacity as a variable within Hybrid Model Based Control strategies, we will go beyond current theoretical frontiers and gain insight into the trade-offs between multiple objectives and constraints, both on operational (Hybrid Model Based Control) and strategic level (system design optimisation and LCA).

2. Expected results
The thematic work packages 2-6 are expected to achieve the following results:
Work package 2: Ten innovative technologies will have been piloted across India (in seven Indian States).
Work package 3: The outcome of this objective will be a comprehensive set of monitoring data and analysis of these data in view of the technology performance under different operating conditions ascertaining utility of these technology under certain defined environmental condition or in general.
Work package 4: Robust control strategies for all piloted technologies as well as assessment of their limits of performance. Recommendations on which control strategies to use in which situations.
Work package 5: A detailed assessment of the overall sustainability of the piloted technologies and identification of best available technologies in the Indian context.
Work package 6: This WP will have a number of results such as a web page, presentations at conferences, publications, videos, webinars, etc.

3. Potential impacts

Saraswati 2.0 will in particular contribute to the following impacts:
Contribution to improved and efficient wastewater treatment systems, combined with recovery and reuse of energy, substances and treated wastewater: Saraswati 2.0 will implement 10 pilots which aim at improved and efficient wastewater treatment combined with reuse of energy including application of renewable energy sources, substances and treated wastewater. Hence, Saraswati 2.0 is also strongly contributing to the principles of a circular economy as e.g. outlined in the EU Action Plan for a circular economy.

Contribution to improved smart and comprehensive solutions for both quality and quantity monitoring and management of water resources: This impact is in so far addressed by Saraswati 2.0 as solutions for quality and quantity monitoring of the water flows within the wastewater treatment plants are concerned.

Contribution to strengthening the Sustainable Development Goals' (SDGs) agenda on water: Saraswasti 2.0 contributes directly to target 6.3 of SDG 6 (by 2020, improve water quality by reducing pollution, …., halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.). Saraswati 2.0 aims at providing wastewater treatment technologies for ten locations across seven Indian States. All pilots aim in particular at increasing recycling and safe reuse of the treated wastewater.