Non-conventional waters


Re-use and recycling of treated municipal water

Expansion of urban population and increased coverage of domestic water supplies and sewage network will give rise to greater quantities of municipal waste water source particularly for irrigation. This water source, in comparison with other water sources, has the advantage of being renewable, increasing with time, not at all affected by climate and also a rich source for fertilization thereby reducing the energy consumption needed for manufacturing fertilizers.

For the arid and semi-arid countries of the Mediterranean the re-use of treated municipal waste water may have a great impact on future usable water sources than any other technological means of increasing water supplies, such as water harvesting, weather modification or desalination.

The treated water source can be effectively used for irrigation, industrial purposes and groundwater recharge and for protection against salt intrusion in groundwater aquifers. Furthermore, the treatment of such waste water and possible use of sewage effluents is a health and environmental necessity to civil society, especially in urban areas.

In the Mediterranean the annual water use in the domestic and industrial sector could reach 83 BCM. Assuming that 80% of waste water will be collected and treated, the annual collected waste water could reach 66.7 BMC, corresponding to the potential treated waste water for use. Therefore, in arid and semi-arid countries of the Mediterranean, those seriously suffering shortages in fresh water resources, waste water reclamation and reuse represent a potentially important additional source of water.

Many countries have included treated waste water (TWW) reuse in their water planning; policies have been formulated, but few have had the capacity to implement them in their water management practices in terms of actions to deal with water pollution control and waste disposal. In most countries of the region the full utilization and reuse of TWW is still far from the desired final goal, i.e. to be fully treated and re-used as an important water source in spite of the vital role it could play in reducing the high pressure imposed on the limited available fresh water.

The biggest question, however, is to know what are the reasons limiting the full use of this water source. Unfortunately, in the Mediterranean region, the re-use of treated municipal waste water as an efficient practice for freshwater saving, is still facing major constraints, some of them being technical, due to the absence of agencies adequately equipped for waste water management, shortage of local network of research for scientific and problem solving and no access to good quality laboratories and monitoring system and experience in management and cost recovery. In addition, most developing countries of the region have not national policies and strategies relating to waste water management in general and waste water reuse for agriculture in particular, to guide programmes, projects and investments relating to waste water collection, treatment, re-use and disposal in a sustainable manner.

Among the main obstacles to the use of recycled water are health fears and hazards due to the absence of a well defined waste water treatment technology to be adopted under the prevailing conditions. Equally, an important element constraining the re-use of TWW is the lack of realistic standards, guidelines and regulations tailored to match the level of economic and technical capability of the involved institutions under the prevailing local conditions. Indeed, solving those obstacles that limit the sustainable and safe reuse of the municipal treated waste water will require concerted efforts and research programmes supported by regional and international organizations in order to achieve the major benefits this water source could provide.

Timing:
Starting: 8.01.1990
Scheduled ending: 25.06.2019
Real ending: 25.06.2019
Objectives:

The main objective of this research line is to come up to the major agronomic, health and environmental concerns and to provide the local communities and the regional agriculture services with reliable data to design the treatment plants of municipal waste waters adapted to the local contexts and to disseminate the best practices for their reuse in agriculture.

The programme was mainly aimed at exploring the synergies of the research carried out within different programmes and countries, facilitating communication with researchers and national and regional institutions from the Mediterranean countries, and allow broad dissemination and transfer of the knowledge technology and practices within the region with the overall goal of establishing new strategies for the treated municipal waste water use based on proper integrated crop, water and soil management and integrated re-use of municipal waste water into water resources management strategies and planning.

The specific objectives are: i) to exploit complementarities in research objectives, methodologies and data analysis of on-going programmes; ii) to facilitate efficient dissemination, exploitation of information on waste water treatment and re-use to improve effectiveness in the transfer of knowledge and technologies within the Mediterranean countries; iii) to identify practical, affordable practices that safeguard the environment and the human health especially of those whose livelihood depends on waste water; and iv) to set up a realistic, effective  and sustainable management approach that takes into account the tradeoffs between the health of producers and the consumers of food crops irrigated with waste water.

Justification:

The programme was intended to gain more knowledge in the area of municipal waste water treatment and re-use with clear implications for the overall water resources quality, and to provide further key knowledge to resolve the water resources pollution which is globally one of the most important issues. Furthermore, the programme technically improved water planning and management and thereby enhanced water supplies related to specific problems in the Mediterranean region. The findings, conclusions and recommendations resulting from the programme have indicated that more scientific understanding and more technical solutions to the water problems are now available in the region.

In addition to the provided technical and scientific gains, the research programme played an important role in building national capacities in this sector due to the participation of a relatively high number of scientists and researchers in developing the programme, the creation of a centre of excellence for the treatment and re-use of municipal waste water in IAV – Hassan II, Agadir, Morocco, where a great number of candidates carried out their Ms.C. programme (Annex IV). The scientific publications strongly prove the notable impact of the programme on increasing and updating know-how as well as strengthening the exchange of information on the use of municipal waste water for agricultural development in the Mediterranean.  

The research programme on the re-use of treated municipal waste water addressed the priority related to advanced water treatment by simultaneously involving a greater number of scientists and professionals from the Mediterranean. The research programme, which has continued for more than 15 years, has given guidance on the following issues:

  •  The current and future contribution of treated waste water to the total national water budget;
  •  Criteria required to achieve maximum benefit from treated waste water reuse of the different water use sectors;
  •  Modalities for strengthening the national capacity building in this field;
  •  Improve utilization of water resources and waste water supplies, with consideration for local physical conditions;
  •  Promote integrated approaches for appropriate waste water management through the application of innovative cost–effective technological options for water treatment and re-use.
  •  Saline water practices and management strategies;
  •  Soil-water-plant interrelationships under saline irrigation practices;
  •  Modelling under saline irrigation practices;
  •  Water management and salinization problems in protected agriculture.
Potential:

Expansion of urban population and increased coverage of domestic water supplies and sewage network lead to produce great quantities of municipal waste water particularly for irrigation. This water source, in comparison with other water sources, has the advantage of being renewable,  increasing with time, not at all affected by climate changes and a rich source for fertilization thereby reducing the energy consumption needed for manufacturing fertilizers. Therefore, the re-use of treated municipal waste water may have a great impact on future water usable sources in the Mediterranean countries. 

Results:
Notes:
  • Strengths

Re-use of waste water is one of the most important issues in Mediterranean countries. Also the EU Directive 2000/60 asked to use such resource in order to increase water availability and decrease pollution in the environment. It clearly indicates the need to achieve more scientific understanding and more technical solutions in the field of re-use of municipal waste water.

  • Weaknesses

Difficulties are mainly related to setting up experimental fields. 

Reference person/s: Hamdy Atef /
Collaborators: Lahmer Fadila / Mimiola Giancarlo / Todorovic Mladen /
Thesis: Soilless closed cycle production of green bean using subirrigation: effects on yield, fruit quality, substrate and nutrient solution parameters
Effect of treated wastewater on green bean plants cultivated under soilless technique and soil condition
Effet de cinq substrats sur une culture d’haricot vert irriguée par les eaux useés épurées sous serr : aspect nutritionnels, agronomiques et physiologiques
Subirrigation vs. drip-irrigation: effects on yield, fruit quality and nutrients concentration into the substrate and nutrient solution of soilless grown salad tomato
Urban wastewater : problems, risks and its potential use for irrigation
Comportement d’une culture de courgette sous serre irriguée par les eaux usées épurées et cultivée en hors sol sur du sable amendé : effets des différents types et doses de matière organique
Effet de deux substrats (sable et fibre de coco) sur le bilan hydrique et minéral de la courgette noire irriguée par les eaux usées épurées
Impact de l’irrigation par les eaux usées épurées par lagunage aéré et les eaux de puits fertilisées sur une culture de haricot vert pratiquée en plein sol et sur substrat sableux
L’effet de trois substrats sur une culture de melon irriguée par les eaux usées épurées et par les eaux de puits fertilisées sous abris serre
Effet de l’irrigation par les eaux usées épurées et les eaux de puits fertilisées sur la production d’une culture de melon conduite sur trois substrats. Bilan minéral et cinétique d’absorption des éléments nutritifs
Effet de l’irrigation par alternance d’eau usée épurée et eau de puits fertilisée sur une culture de courgette : réponses agronomiques et physiologiques
Irrigation d’une culture de pomme de terre en plein champ par alternance des eaux usées traitées et des eaux de puits fertilisées. Effets sur la croissance, le rendement, les aspects physiologiques de la plante et le sol
Impact de différentes doses d’irrigation par les eaux usées épurées par infiltration percolation sur une culture de pomme de terre: Solanum tuberosum. Réponses physiologiques et agronomiques
Impact de l’irrigation par différents régimes d’irrigation par les eaux usées épurées sur une culture de courgette de plein champ Cuccurbita pepo : Réponse physiologique et agronomique
Effects of metal pollution on water quality in Shoubra El-Khiema Qalubia Governorate in Egypt
Impact de l'irrigation par les eaux usées épurées sur la productivité d'une culture de tomate de plein champ, le bilan d'azote et la salinité du sol
Impact de l'irrigation par les eaux usées épurées sur la productivité d'une culture d'haricot vert de plein champ, le bilan d'azote et la salinité du sol
The use of treated wastewater as supplementary irrigation for bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) production
Optimisation des apports d'azote et de l'irrigation par les eaux usées épurées par infiltration-percolation sur une culture de poivron sous serre
Optimisation des apports et de l'irrigation par les eaux usées épurées par infiltration-percolation sur une culture de chrysanthème (Chrysanthemum coronatum) sous serre
Irrigation d'une culture de chrysanthème par une eau usée épurée : effet de différentes doses d'irrigation sur le rendement et la croissance
L'irrigation d'une culture de courgette par une eau usée épurée par infiltration-percolation : impact sur la croissance et le rendement
Supplementary irrigation using treated sewage effluent on bread wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Wastewater treatment: comparison between conventional and soil filtration systems
Institutions involved: Istituto di Ricerca sulle Acque (IRSA)
Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II of Agadir (IAV-Agadir)
Università degli Studi di Bari
 
 
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