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From waste water to RichWater, an innovative technology for combining treatment and reuse in agriculture

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Start/End date: 
02/2016 to 07/2018

BIOAZUL - Pilar Zapata Aranda

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RichWater is a EU Horizon 2020 funded project which has provided an innovative technology for wastewater reuse in agricuture. An integrated approach combining treatment and irrigation in a single system enables taking maximum advantage of nutrients.

RichWater system consists in a low-cost and energy-efficient MBR (membrane bioreactor) to produce pathogen-free and nutrient rich irrigation water.

The treatment system is connected to:

  • the mixing module (for tailor-made mixing with freshwater and additional fertilizers)
  • the fertigation unit
  • a monitoring / control module including soil sensors to guarantee demand-driven and case sensitive fertigation.

By combining these modules, a complete and turn-key system for safe wastewater reuse in agriculture is available.

It is RichWater project ambition to develop an up-scaled commercial prototype (150 m³ treatment capacity /day) in South 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.

Main results: 
  • Production of 150 m3/day of treated wastewater (i.e. reclaimed water)
  • Low energy consumption (ca. 1.5 kwh/m3)
  • Irrigation of 3 target crops at experimental field: tomato, mango and avocado
  • Treated water suplying 50% of main macronutrients (N,P,K) to the target crops
  • Agronomic studies to compare irrigated crops irrigated with RichWater and conventional water
  • Cost benefit analysis and feasibility study
  • Market strategy

The project's outcomes are also visualised in the diagram below: