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First application and market introduction of combined wastewater treatment and reuse technology for agricultural purposes

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RichWater (First application and market introduction of combined wastewater treatment and reuse technology for agricultural purposes)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-10-31

The main objective of RichWater project is the construction of a commercial prototype which combines water treatment with membranes and an adapted irrigation system so that the overall process is completely automated and operation and maintenance requirements are minimum. RichWater system comprises 4 individual modules: i) water treatment module, ii) mixing station, iii) fertigation module, and iv) control and monitoring module. A membrane Bioreactor (MBR) has been designed for the water treatment module in a way that plant nutrients contained in waste water (mainly Nitrogen and Phosphorus) are maintained after the treatment while pathogens are killed. The mixing station will mix the appropriate proportion of fresh water and the treated waste water coming from the MBR and feed the fertigation module. To achieve this, the level of nutrient content in the soil is detected by sensors and this information is sent by remote control to the control and monitoring unit which will translate the signals received into specific orders to the valves of the mixing unit.
The main innovation to be brought by RichWater is the development of a single compact system which is easy and direct to use by end-users (e.g. farmers). The system is able to identify the necessities of nutrients in the soil through sensors and adapt the dose of treated waste water according to those necessities in real time.
It is RichWater project ambition to develop an up-scaled commercial prototype (min. 150 m³ treatment capacity/day) and pursue the goal of implementing it in a real scale food producer in Southern Spain to reuse local community wastewater for irrigation purposes. The aim is to create a win-win situation between two sectors (the wastewater treatment and the agricultural sector) by turning public wastewater into a valuable end-product.
RichWater system is intended to be an effective solution to control and mitigate emerging risks posed by chemical contaminants and pathogens in reclaimed water used for agriculture. The system is designed for the use of individual farmers or farmers associations and its compact design makes it very appropriate for small agglomerations such as rural areas.
In work package 1, system requirements have been defined with a special focus on legal standards regarding wastewater reuse in agricultural production. European, national and regional requirements have been reviewed according to the final location of the demonstration site. Furthermore, it has been investigated the availability and quality of wastewater used as influent during the project demonstration.
The design of the system components (i.e. modules) in work package 2 was the core of the work during the first year of the project and provided the essential input for the construction of the prototype.
Work package 3 ensured conformity with legal requirements through the administrative procedures to obtain the licence required for waste water re-use practices. Selection of an adequate test site has been also performed under WP3. All the necessary measures to ensure the proper functioning of the prototype included clear of weeds, planting of the target crops, construction of a piping network, electricity installation, etc.
WP4 is devoted to the construction of the prototype. All prototype components are built by the respective responsible partner. Transport and assembling at the test site in Malaga concluded in July 2017.
Work Package 5 consists of the demonstration of the technology and started in August 2017, once the prototype was installed and the primary function tests were completed. The prototype has been tested by irrigating the tomatoes, mangos and avocados with the effluent of the treatment module. Water, crop and soil analysis have been performed to ensure the proper monitoring of the system.
Work package 6 comprises the required coordination of the planned R&D activities and to review the intermediate results. Likewise, this WP include the development of a Life Cycle Assessment, a Cost Benefit Analysis and the ETV verification.
Work package 7, devoted to dissemination activities, started at the very beginning of the project with the dissemination of the project objectives and expected results to relevant stakeholders. In this sense, the project web site was set up at month 3, and promotional leaflets, poster and banner other activities such as the presentation of the project in several events were the main outcomes during the first period. The development of the project video, the registration of RichWater trade mark, the preparation of a Business Plan and the organization of workshops and open field visits have been carried out during this second period.
Finally, work under work package 8, devoted to management activities has ensured the correct organisation, coordination, communication and co-operation between the partners and with the European Commission, and the fulfilment of the reporting requirements during the project. Four project meetings have been organized so far, all of them in Malaga in order to enable visits to the test site. Two partners, BIOAZUL and TTZ, have developed Certificate of their Financial Statements that have been submitted jointly to their financial report.
RichWater consortium expects that the project results satisfy the end users needs and challenges. The prototype has been designed to end up with a system fulfilling the following characteristics:
- Able to treat 150 m3/day of waste water
- Compact system
- High automation
- Minimized dosage of fertilizers for irrigation
- Competitive price of the technology
- Effluent free of pathogens and rich in nutrients
Potential impacts and use:
• “Reclaimed water” provides a constant source of water: This contributes to water sovereignty of farmers in rural areas suffering from water scarcity and to avoid that farmers suffer from water cuts and the consequent losses in production. This is of special importance in countries suffering from water scarcity such as Spain and other countries of Southern Europe (e.g. Greece, Italy, Portugal). Most of these countries are also intensive agriculture producers and this activity, as highly water consumer, is posing risks on the sustainability of fresh water bodies.
• For the SMEs participating in RichWater, it is expected to increase the number of clients by opening new markets and penetrating in countries where the consortium is not yet active.
• Less contamination of water bodies: Economic incentives to treat waste water can boost the interest on appropriate treatment and therefore reduce inadequate waste water discharge. Appropriate nutrient monitoring as foreseen in RichWater will prevent from excess dosage of fertilizers.
• Less use of chemical fertilizers: Reclaimed water has nutrients which are directly taken by plants. Therefore less chemical fertilizers are needed. This implies a reduction in the carbon footprint since emissions of carbon dioxide produced by production, package and transport of chemical fertilizers would be avoided.
• No need to transport waste water. This implies a reduction in the carbon footprint since the use of vehicles to transport waste water would be avoided.
• Employment and rural development: RichWater will push the modernisation of agricultural technology and will create qualified employment, not only for the construction of the systems but also for maintenance and operation.
RichWater prototype
Press conference with local authorities
Consortium at one of the test site green houses
Consortium at the Kick Off meeting
1st workshop with farmers