Physical sciences, Earth sciences

Improving wastewater treatment

Researchers are tackling wastewater quality by redesigning treatment systems and providing policymakers with better information.

Climate change threatens global water security as changing weather patterns could intensify demands while shrinking supply. Elsewhere, increased flooding and run-off will put strain on urban wastewater treatment systems, potentially impacting on health and sanitation.

The 'Sustainable and integrated urban water system management' (SANITAS) project aims to better equip urban wastewater professionals to tackle these challenges through technical and management training. Funded by the EU, scientists, industry and water authorities are pushing the traditional barriers between policy and research to collaborate on new technologies for wastewater systems.

So far, SANITAS has improved wastewater treatment designs by creating precise and compact systems that are also cheaper and more energy efficient. These designs reduce by-products, like greenhouse gases, sulphide, methane and micropollutants, which are harmful to the environment and city sewerage infrastructure.

Researchers are also developing practical decision support tools to evaluate environmental impact versus operational costs, including cost–benefit analysis, benchmarking tools and scenario modelling. Importantly, scientists are learning to connect their science to policy through clearer communication of policy inputs.

These policy and technical innovations will improve the quality of treated wastewater, which returns to the water catchment areas that are our water sources. In addition, this work will position Europe as a leader in wastewater policy as the water security debate intensifies.

last modification: 2015-02-05 15:18:34

Study in Poland