Water is a natural resource vital for social wellbeing and agriculture economy. Yet, during the past decades, geographic and climatic features, as well as active release of man-made chemicals, have been driving to water depletion and a loss of quality. This creates a major need for water reuse in increasingly situations, such as in agriculture. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are crucial sources for water reuse, since they promote the removal of unwanted substances. However, one of the major challenges restricting wastewater (WW) reuse is the presence of emerging contaminants (ECs), as they are usually not properly managed by conventional treatment technologies. These technologies still need urgent innovative development and integrated solutions, in order to promote sustainable water reuse and safety.
REWATER proposes to develop an innovative joint research and application of technologies producing a final integrated solution for reuse of WW for agricultural purposes, and their economic and environmental evaluation with a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
Its systematic approach, inspired in technological, organisational and bio-based economy, will minimise negative impacts of WW reuse in the environment, decreasing the undesirable introduction of ECs in agriculture and aquatic systems and reducing their spread within the food chain.
According to the Watch List of Substances established under the Water Framework Directive (Decision-EU 2018/840), emerging contaminants (ECs) such as specific pharmaceuticals and pesticides should be monitored, especially because of their reduced removal by conventional treatments in Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTPs).
Pharmaceuticals and their transformation products and pesticides were monitored in the Lis (Portugal) and the Putna (Romania) rivers, as well as the contributions of WWTPs located along these rivers. Pharmaceuticals and pesticides were detected from the source to the mouth of the rivers and in influents and effluents from the WWTPs.
To simplify the analysis techniques, small and very low-cost (paper-based and molecularly imprinted polymers) electroanalytical devices were developed and applied to the determination of ECs.
Because of the presence of the ECs in the analysed waters, tertiary treatment processes for their removal were studied: advanced oxidation (e.g. electro-Fenton), bioremediation (e.g. mycoremediation and phycoremediation), adsorption using biochars, and combinations of these processes.
The complementary evaluation of toxicity decrease after these treatment processes was based on integrated endpoints using different animal models, such as the pond snail and zebrafish embryo/larvae.
Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Costing is ongoing to assess the sustainability and the economic viability of the treatment processes at full scale.
*At the time of the proposal. Please consider this data as an accurate estimate; it may vary during the project’s lifespan.
Total costs include in kind contribution by grant holders and can therefore be higher than the total requested funding.