The University of Girona is one of the 20 partners of an EU project funded with 7 million Euros to develop a biological wastewater treatment for rural areas. UdG will host one pilot plant to validate the technology and one of the demonstration scenarios will be located in the province of Girona.
A research team from three different groups of Universitat de Girona (UdG) take part in INNOQUA, a European project aimed at developing and implementing wastewater treatment solutions for rural communities. Currently, around 20 milion inhabitants of the European Union are not connected to sanitation systems.
The research groups in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (LEQUIA) and the research group in Environmental Physics are integrated in a consortium of 20 partners from 9 different countries funded by EU program Horizon 2020. The project involves universities, technological centres, enterprises, water agencies and NGOs.
INNOQUA, which starts in May 2016, has a duration of four years. The budget is 7 million Euros and involves European (France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands) and Latin American countries (Equator and Peru).
A tool that can be adapted to different scenarios
INNOQUA will develop an eco-efficient and sustainable sanitation system based on two biological treatments: lumbrifiltration with earthworms and filtration-purification by Daphnia, a planktonic crustacean. The system can be complemented with radiation treatment with solar or UV light in order to increase water quality for its further reuse. Moreover, an advanced monitoring and control system with a mobile device will perform the online follow-up of the process. Thus, an eco-innovative modular tool that can be adapted to different scenarios will be developed.
The UdG hosts one of the pilot plants
The project also includes market-driven activities. The tool will be optimised and validated in the pilot plants of Universitat de Girona and National University of Ireland in Galway. Then, demonstration will be performed in 11 scenarios located in the 9 participant countries, one on them in the Girona province. These scenarios present different wastewater treatment challenges related to the use of domestic and agricultural water, and the preservation of fresh water natural resources. This stage will have a duration of 1 year and will involve local stakeholders for the installation, operation, dissemination and acceptation of the technologies.
The three UdG research groups that take part in INNOQUA are coordinated by Dr Victòria Salvadó and are: the group in Analythical and Environmental Chemistry (Dr Victòria Salvadó and Manuela Hidalgo), the group in Environmental Physics (Dr Jordi Colomer and Dr Teresa Serra) and the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (Dr Jesús Colprim). All of them will play a key role in the validation phase and provide the consortium with the technology of biological filtration by Daphnia sp. Moreover, the groups will lead one of the demonstration scenarios in the Girona province. The project has received support from entities such as Consorci d’Aigües Costa Brava, the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) and Spanish Water Technology Platform PTEA.
Water Framework Directive obliges all European Member States to achieve “the good status of all the waters”. However, in the EU currently 20 million inhabitants in rural communities (between 10 and 15% of the population) do not have access to proper sanitation systems. Worldwide, this figure reaches 2.6 billion people, 35% of the population, mainly in small communities in underdeveloped countries. The lack of basic sanitation negatively affects health and social development and impacts seriously on the environment, on the adaptation to climate change and on the capacity of a society to develop economically.