Research

Research on Water Recycling and Reuse

Research actively contributes to the development and success of water reuse schemes in Europe. And for this reason, one of our missions at WRE is to promote research and innovation on water reuse across Europe.

Below you will find highlights of research projects that are taking place in Europe and beyond, and a focus on recently published research articles on water reuse.

If you are involved in research and development on water reuse, and would like to let our community know on this page, contact us at: info@water-reuse-europe.org

Projects selection

A full list of current and past Water Reuse projects is available in our Members area.

Articles selection - January 2024

Title: Making waves: Promoting municipal water reuse without a prevailing scarcity driver

Authors: Duckett D., Troldborg M., Hendry S. and Cousin H.

In: Water Research

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: The wealth of water reuse research in scarcity and/or rapid urbanisation contexts has underpinned significant change in many relatively water scarce contexts. Less progress has been achieved in water rich contexts; a fact illustrated by the lack of change on the ground. The Climate Emergency demands that all municipalities urgently contribute to more efficient resource management of water. Consequently, to advance municipal scale reuse projects in locations where scarcity is not forcing the issue, for example Scotland, there is a need to predicate water reuse on different drivers, specifically climate change and the circular economy. Moreover, greater contextual sensitivity needs to be applied when exploring barriers to reuse to more critically exploit opportunities, for example avenues to reform complex regulatory frameworks, different contingencies around trust, and different potential degrees of the yuck factor. To achieve this, new initiatives need to be urgently undertaken to consider the barriers to reuse that will not be swept aside by the imperative of scarcity. The notion of a yum factor, whereby positive sentiments are nurtured to combat instinctive repugnance, coined as yuck by the bioethicist Arthur Caplan, is advanced as a strategic objective to promote more rapid expansion of municipal scale reuse.

Available here.

Title: Performance of lagoon and constructed wetland systems for tertiary wastewater treatment and potential of reclaimed water in agricultural irrigation

Authors: Mancuso G., Lavrnić S., Canet-Martí A., Zaheer A., Avolio F., Langergraber G., and Toscano A.

In: Journal of Environmental Management

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Climate change poses challenges to agricultural water resources, both in terms of quantity and quality. As an adaptation measure, the new European Regulation (EU) 2020/741 establishes different water quality classes for the use of reclaimed water in agricultural irrigation. Italy is also working on the definition of a new regulation on reclaimed water reuse for agricultural irrigation (in substitution of the current one) that will also include the specific requirements imposed by the European one. Nature-based Solutions (NBS) can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to facilitate water reclamation and reuse. The present study reports the outcomes of a long-term monitoring campaign of two NBS (e.g., a constructed wetland (CW) and a lagoon system (LS)) comparing influent and effluent concentrations of different contaminants (e.g., E. coli, BOD5, TSS, TN and TP) with the threshold values imposed by the new regulations. The results showed that in both the case studies, E. coli (about 100 CFU 100 mL−1) and BOD5 (lower than 25 mg L−1) mean effluent concentration need to be further reduced in reclaimed water to be suitable for unlimited reuse. As a negative aspect, in both the monitored NBS, an increase in TSS mean concentration in the effluent was observed, up to 40 mg L−1 in the case of the LS, making reclaimed water unsuitable for agricultural reuse. The CW has proven to be more effective in nitrogen removal (the effluent mean concentration was 3.4 mg L−1), whereas the LS was better at phosphorus removal (with an effluent mean concentration of 0.4 mg L−1). Based on the results, recommendations were made to further improve the performance of both systems in order to have adequate water quality, even for class A. Furthermore, the capacity of reclaimed water to meet crop water and nutrient needs was analyzed, and total nitrogen removal rate coefficients were calculated for the design of future LSs.

Available here.

Title: Key perceptions associated with attitudes towards water reuse in a Swedish town

Authors: Gullberg Y., Samuelsson K., Anders Brandt S.

In: Water Reuse

Publisher: IWA Publishing

Abstract: As climate change and urbanization affect current water management systems, new solutions and approaches rooted in public acceptance are needed to ensure future water supply. In this study, we examine public attitudes to reuse of recycled water and associated worldviews, values, and perceptions in a site without historical water issues. A survey of 143 randomly sampled residents in the municipality of the growing Swedish town Knivsta revealed that 81.4% of the respondents had a positive attitude towards using recycled water in general. The results did not indicate any differences in attitudes between those living in and outside the municipality’s urban areas. Perceived benefits and risks were found to be significantly related to both attitudes towards using recycled water in general and to the extreme case of using it for drinking purposes. Additionally, trust in public authorities was highly predictive of attitudes towards drinking recycled water. Furthermore, attitudes were found to be related to an environmental worldview and underlying biospheric, altruistic, and hedonic values. This indicates a need to consider the intended purpose as well as engaging with underlying values as part of the technology legitimation process for improving the chances of successful implementation of water recycling technologies.

Available here.

Title: Harnessing water fleas for water reclamation: A nature-based tertiary wastewater treatment technology

Authors: Abdullahi M., Stead I., Bennett S., Orozco R., Abdallah M.A.-E., Jabbari S., Macaskie L.E., Tzella A., Krause S., Al-Duri B., Lee R.G., Herbert B., Thompson P., Schalkwyk M., Getahun S., Dearn K.D. and Orsini L.

In: Science of the Total Environment

Publisher: Elsevier B.V.

Abstract: Urbanisation, population growth, and climate change have put unprecedented pressure on water resources, leading to a global water crisis and the need for water reuse. However, water reuse is unsafe unless persistent chemical pollutants are removed from reclaimed water. State-of-the-art technologies for the reduction of persistent chemical pollutants in wastewater typically impose high operational and energy costs and potentially generate toxic by-products (e.g., bromate from ozonation). Nature-base solutions are preferred to these technologies for their lower environmental impact. However, so far, bio-based tertiary wastewater treatments have been inefficient for industrial-scale applications. Moreover, they often demand significant financial investment and large infrastructure, undermining sustainability objectives. Here, we present a scalable, low-cost, low-carbon, and retrofittable nature-inspired solution to remove persistent chemical pollutants (pharmaceutical, pesticides and industrial chemicals). We showed Daphnia’s removal efficiency of individual chemicals and chemicals from wastewater at laboratory scale ranging between 50 % for PFOS and 90 % for diclofenac. We validated the removal efficiency of diclofenac at prototype scale, showing sustained performance over four weeks in outdoor seminatural conditions. A techno-commercial analysis on the Daphnia-based technology suggested several technical, commercial and sustainability advantages over established and emerging treatments at comparable removal efficiency, benchmarked on available data on individual chemicals. Further testing of the technology is underway in open flow environments holding real wastewater. The technology has the potential to improve the quality of wastewater effluent, meeting requirements to produce water appropriate for reuse in irrigation, industrial application, and household use. By preventing persistent chemicals from entering waterways, this technology has the potential to maximise the shift to clean growth, enabling water reuse, reducing resource depletion and preventing environmental pollution.

Available here.

Title: A new evaluation framework for the assessment of wastewater heat recovery potential coupled with wastewater reuse

Authors: Ramadhan, E. and Oh, J.

In: Water Science and Technology

Publisher: IWA Publishing

Abstract: The integration of wastewater heat recovery (WWHR) and wastewater reuse offers a numerous advantage, making its application possible in various sectors. Nevertheless, this concept faced challenges to the identification of appropriate location. Existing research lacks comprehensive evaluation methods that encompass a various factor for effective decision-making. This study introduces a new evaluation framework that involves different aspects, including thermal energy potential and spatial distribution analysis. The novelty of this research lies in its unique focus on the combination of WWHR and wastewater reuse. Moreover, it introduces a structured evaluation framework that considers multiple criteria and expert opinions, enhancing decision-making precision. Multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was applied to select assessment criteria, which were categorized into three aspects: water–energy supplier, water–energy consumers, and water–energy station. The relative importance of criteria was determined using the analytical hierarchical process (AHP). The results of the AHP highlight significance of factors: treated wastewater flow rate; treated wastewater temperature; water–energy supply distance, and type of water–energy consumer. These factors were assigned weight values of 0.297, 0.186, 0.123, and 0.096, respectively. It is emphasizing their influence in the decision-making process that potential locations depend on the water–energy supplier and water–energy consumer as supply and demand sources.

Available here.

Articles selection - September 2023

Want to keep up to date on the latest research on water reuse? Every quarter Water Reuse Europe selects for you five open-access trending articles on water reuse.

Enjoy reading!

Title: Predicting microbial water quality in on-site water reuse systems with online sensors

Authors: Reynaert E., Steiner P., Yu Q., D’Olif L., Joller N., Schneider M.Y. and Morgenroth E.

In: Water Research

Publisher: Elsevier

 

Abstract: Widespread implementation of on-site water reuse is hindered by the limited availability of monitoring approaches that ensure microbial quality during operation. In this study, we developed a methodology for monitoring microbial water quality in on-site water reuse systems using inexpensive and commercially available online sensors. An extensive dataset containing sensor and microbial water quality data for six of the most critical types of disruptions in membrane bioreactors with chlorination was collected. We then tested the ability of three typological machine learning algorithms – logistic regression, support-vector machine, and random forest – to predict the microbial water quality as “safe” or “unsafe” for reuse. The main criteria for model optimization was to ensure a low false positive rate (FPR) – the percentage of safe predictions when the actual condition is unsafe – which is essential to protect users health. This resulted in enforcing a fixed FPR ≤ 2%. Maximizing the true positive rate (TPR) – the percentage of safe predictions when the actual condition is safe – was given second priority. Our results show that logistic-regression-based models using only two out of the six sensors (free chlorine and oxidation–reduction potential) achieved the highest TPR. Including sensor slopes as engineered features allowed to reach similar TPRs using only one sensor instead of two. Analysis of the occurrence of false predictions showed that these were mostly early alarms, a characteristic that could be regarded as an asset in alarm management. In conclusion, the simplest algorithm in combination with only one or two sensors performed best at predicting the microbial water quality. This result provides useful insights for water quality modeling or for applications where small datasets are a common challenge and a general advantage might be gained by using simpler models that reduce the risk of overfitting, allow better interpretability, and require less computational power.

Available here.

Title: Selection of indicator contaminants of emerging concern when reusing reclaimed water for irrigation — A proposed methodology

Authors: Verlicchi P., Grillini V., Lacasa E., Archer E., Krzeminski P., Gomes A.I., Vilar V.J.P., Rodrigo M.A., Gäbler J., Schäfer L.

In: Science of the Total Environment

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Organic and microbial contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), even though not yet regulated, are of great concern in reclaimed water reuse projects. Due to the large number of CECs and their different characteristics, it is useful to include only a limited number of them in monitoring programs. The selection of the most representative CECs is still a current and open question. This study presents a new methodology for this scope, in particular for the evaluation of the performance of a polishing treatment and the assessment of the risk for the environment and the irrigated crops. As to organic CECs, the methodology is based on four criteria (occurrence, persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity) expressed in terms of surrogates (respectively, concentrations in the secondary effluent, removal achieved in conventional activated sludge systems, Log Kow and predicted-no-effect concentration). It consists of: (i) development of a dataset including the CECs found in the secondary effluent, together with the corresponding values of surrogates found in the literature or by in-field investigations; (ii) normalization step with the assignment of a score between 1 (low environmental impact) and 5 (high environmental impact) to the different criteria based on threshold values set according to the literature and experts’ judgement; (iii) CEC ranking according to their final score obtained as the sum of the specific scores; and (iv) selection of the representative CECs for the different needs. Regarding microbial CECs, the selection is based on their occurrence and their highest detection frequency in the secondary effluent and in the receiving water, the antibiotic consumption patterns, and recommendations by national and international organisations. The methodology was applied within the ongoing reuse project SERPIC resulting in a list of 30 indicator CECs, including amoxicillin, bisphenol A, ciprofloxacin, diclofenac, erythromycin, ibuprofen, iopromide, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), sulfamethoxazole, tetracycline, Escherichia coli, faecal coliform, 16S rRNA, sul1, and sul2.

Available here.

Title: Water treatment and reclamation by implementing electrochemical systems with constructed wetlands

Authors: Mosquera-Romero S., Ntagia E., Rousseau D.P.L., Esteve-Núñez A., and Prévoteau A.

In: Environmental Science and Ecotechnology

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Seasonal or permanent water scarcity in off-grid communities can be alleviated by recycling water in decentralized wastewater treatment systems. Nature-based solutions, such as constructed wetlands (CWs), have become popular solutions for sanitation in remote locations. Although typical CWs can efficiently remove solids and organics to meet water reuse standards, polishing remains necessary for other parameters, such as pathogens, nutrients, and recalcitrant pollutants. Different CW designs and CWs coupled with electrochemical technologies have been proposed to improve treatment efficiency. Electrochemical systems (ECs) have been either implemented within the CW bed (ECin-CW) or as a stage in a sequential treatment (CW + EC). A large body of literature has focused on ECin-CW, and multiple scaled-up systems have recently been successfully implemented, primarily to remove recalcitrant organics. Conversely, only a few reports have explored the opportunity to polish CW effluents in a downstream electrochemical module for the electro-oxidation of micropollutants or electro-disinfection of pathogens to meet more stringent water reuse standards. This paper aims to critically review the opportunities, challenges, and future research directions of the different couplings of CW with EC as a decentralized technology for water treatment and recovery.

Available here.

Title: Methanotrophic oxidation of organic micropollutants and nitrogen upcycling in a hybrid membrane biofilm reactor (hMBfR) for simultaneous O2 and CH4 supply

Authors: Mortensen A.T., Goonesekera E.M., Dechesne A., Elad T., Tang K., Andersen H.R., Smets B.F., Valverde-Pérez B.

In: Water Research

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Pharmaceuticals and other organic micropollutants (OMPs) present in wastewater effluents are of growing concern, as they threaten environmental and human health. Conventional biological treatments lead to limited removal of OMPs. Methanotrophic bacteria can degrade a variety of OMPs. By employing a novel bubble-free hybrid membrane biofilm bioreactor (hMBfR), we grew methanotrophic bacteria at three CH4 loading rates. Biomass productivity and CH4 loading showed a linear correlation, with a maximum productivity of 372 mg-VSS·L−1·d−1, with corresponding biomass concentration of 1117.6 ± 56.4 mg-VSS·L−1. Furthermore, the biodegradation of sulfamethoxazole and 1H-benzotriazole positively correlated with CH4 oxidation rates, with highest biodegradation kinetic constants of 3.58 L·g−1·d−1 and 5.42 L·g−1·d−1, respectively. Additionally, the hMBfR recovered nutrients as microbial proteins, with an average content 39% DW. The biofilm community was dominated by Methylomonas, while the bulk was dominated by aerobic heterotrophic bacteria. The hMBfR removed OMPs, allowing for safer water reuse while valorising CH4 and nutrients.

Available here.

Title: Operational drivers of water reuse efficiency in Portuguese wastewater service providers

Authors: Amaral A.L., Martins R., Dias L.C.

In:Utilities Policy

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Identifying the service providers that perform best in key operational indicators is important for increasing the sustainability of the wastewater treatment sector. Wastewater reuse is increasingly considered as a relevant aspect in this context. The current study first identifies the Portuguese service providers in the efficiency frontier regarding wastewater reuse and proceeds to identify its main operational drivers. Reused wastewater was then successfully estimated using the selected drivers. The main policy recommendations, resulting from this study, towards wastewater reuse upsurge include fostering the aggregation of smaller SP to benefit from economies of scale, and strive for adequate infrastructure maintenance practices.

Available here.

Title: Perspectives on multi-benefit water reuse systems: A confluence of water and wastewater management planning

Authors: Bunney S., Melville-Shreeve P., Chisholm A., Cotterill S.

In: Water and Environment Journal, 37 (3), pp. 561 – 572

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc

Abstract: The multiple benefits of water reuse have yet to be fully realized in our urban water management systems. One pathway to optimal implementation is to plan for their integration with wider assets in water resource or drainage and wastewater management plans. This paper explores the perspectives of water resource and wastewater management planners. Qualitative data was gathered from a workshop organized by the Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) with 25 participants from England’s Water Service Providers (WSPs), regulators (Ofwat and the Environment Agency) and consultants working within the UK water sector. The participants acknowledged that water reuse is relevant to both water resource and drainage and wastewater management planning, but that current regulatory and funding frameworks are constraining effective engagement between water resource and drainage and wastewater management planners by encouraging the development of separate plans. A general consensus of the participants was that it would be beneficial to include water reuse technology within current and future Water Resource Management Plans (WRMPs) and Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans (DWMPs). Participants suggested this could be developed through collaborative working partnerships and support from regulatory and funding frameworks that allow for the growth and development of innovative technologies and nature-based solutions. Participants also highlighted a stronger economic case could be made for water reuse technologies if the approach seeks to capture the wider benefits and not only the ‘best value’ solution. Societal acceptance and the availability of good quality data will be key to the successful adoption of any incentivized water reuse schemes.

Available here.

Articles selection - February 2023

Title: Indirect potable water reuse to face drought events in Barcelona city. Setting a monitoring procedure to protect aquatic ecosystems and to ensure a safe drinking water supply

Authors: Munné, A., Solà, C., Ejarque, E., Sanchís, J., Serra, P., Corbella, I., Aceves, M., Galofré, B., Boleda, M.R., Paraira, M., Molist, J.

In: Science of the Total Environment

                                      Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: The climate change and increasing anthropogenic pressures are expected to limit the availability of water resources. Hence, active measures must be planned in vulnerable regions to ensure a sustainable water supply and minimize environmental impacts. A pilot test was carried out in the Llobregat River (NE Spain) aiming to provide a useful procedure to cope with severe droughts through indirect water reuse. Reclaimed water was used to restore the minimum flow of the lower Llobregat River, ensuring a suitable water supply downstream for Barcelona. A monitoring was performed to assess chemical and microbiological threats throughout the water treatment train, the river and the final drinking water, including 376 micropollutants and common microbiological indicators. The effects of water disinfection were studied by chlorinating reclaimed water prior to its discharge into the river. Data showed that 10 micropollutants (bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, chloroform, EDDP, diclofenac, iopamidol, ioprimid, lamotrigine, ofloxacin and valsartan) posed a potential risk to aquatic life, whereas one solvent (1,4-dioxane) could affect human health. The chlorination of reclaimed water mitigated the occurrence of pharmaceuticals but, conversely, the concentration of halogenated disinfection by-products increased. From a microbiological perspective, the microbial load decreased along wastewater treatments and, later, along drinking water treatment, ultimately reaching undetectable values in final potable water. Non-chlorinated reclaimed water showed a lower log reduction of E. coli and coliphages than chlorinated water. However, the effect of disinfection vanished once reclaimed water was discharged into the river, as the basal concentration of microorganisms in the Llobregat River was comparable to that of non-chlorinated reclaimed water. Overall, our study indicates that indirect water reuse can be a valid alternative source of drinking water in densely populated areas such as Barcelona (Catalonia – NE Spain). A suitable monitoring procedure is presented to assess the related risks to human health and the aquatic ecosystem. 

Available here.


Titl
e: Evaluation of pathogen disinfection efficiency of electrochemical advanced oxidation to become a sustainable technology for water reuse

Authors: Forés, E., Mejías-Molina, C., Ramos, A., Itarte, M., Hundesa, A., Rusiñol, M., Martínez-Puchol, S., Esteve-Bricullé, P., Espejo-Valverde, A., Sirés, I., Calvo, M., Araujo, R.M., Girones, R.

In: Chemosphere

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Water treatment and reuse is gaining acceptance as a strategy to fight against water contamination and scarcity, but it usually requires complex treatments to ensure safety. Consequently, the electrochemical advanced processes have emerged as an effective alternative for water remediation. The main objective here is to perform a systematic study that quantifies the efficiency of a laboratory-scale electrochemical system to inactivate bacteria, bacterial spores, protozoa, bacteriophages and viruses in synthetic water, as well as in urban wastewater once treated in a wetland for reuse in irrigation. A Ti|RuO2-based plate and Si|BDD thin-film were comparatively employed as the anode, which was combined with a stainless-steel cathode in an undivided cell operating at 12 V. Despite the low resulting current density (<15 mA/cm2), both anodes demonstrated the production of oxidants in wetland effluent water. The disinfection efficiency was high for the bacteriophage MS2 (T99 in less than 7.1 min) and bacteria (T99 in about 30 min as maximum), but limited for CBV5 and TuV, spores and amoebas (T99 in more than 300 min). MS2 presented a rapid exponential inactivation regardless of the anode and bacteria showed similar sigmoidal curves, whereas human viruses, spores and amoebas resulted in linear profiles. Due the different sensitivity of microorganisms, different models must be considered to predict their inactivation kinetics. On this basis, it can be concluded that evaluating the viral inactivation from inactivation profiles determined for bacteria or some bacteriophages may be misleading. Therefore, neither bacteria nor bacteriophages are suitable models for the disinfection of water containing enteric viruses. The electrochemical treatment added as a final disinfection step enhances the inactivation of microorganisms, which could contribute to safe water reuse for irrigation. Considering the calculated low energy consumption, decentralized water treatment units powered by photovoltaic modules might be a near reality.

Article available here.

Title: Sensor setpoints that ensure compliance with microbial water quality targets for membrane bioreactor and chlorination treatment in on-site water reuse systems

Authors: Reynaert, E., Gretener, F., Julian, T.R., Morgenroth, E.

In: Water Research X

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Widespread implementation of on-site water reuse systems is hindered by the limited ability to ensure the level of treatment and protection of human health during operation. In this study, we tested the ability of five commercially available online sensors (free chlorine (FC), oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), pH, turbidity, UV absorbance at 254 nm) to predict the microbial water quality in membrane bioreactors followed by chlorination using logistic regression-based and mechanism-based models. The microbial water quality was assessed in terms of removal of enteric bacteria from the wastewater, removal of enteric viruses, and regrowth of bacteria in the treated water. We found that FC and ORP alone could predict the microbial water quality well, with ORP-based models generally performing better. We further observed that prediction accuracy did not increase when data from multiple sensors were integrated. We propose a methodology to link online sensor measurements to risk-based water quality targets, providing operation setpoints protective of human health for specific combinations of wastewaters and reuse applications. For instance, we recommend a minimum ORP of 705 mV to ensure a virus log-removal of 5, and an ORP of 765 mV for a log-removal of 6. These setpoints were selected to ensure that the percentage of events where the water is predicted to meet the quality target but it does not remains below 5%. Such a systematic approach to set sensor setpoints could be used in the development of water reuse guidelines and regulations that aim to cover a range of reuse applications with differential risks to human health.

Available here.


Titl
e: Potential application of hybrid reverse electrodialysis (RED)-forward osmosis (FO) system to fertilizer-producing industrial plant for efficient water reuse

Authors: Elmakki, T., Zavahir, S., Gulied, M., Qiblawey, H., Hammadi, B., Khraisheh, M., Shon, H.K., Park, H., Han, D.S.

In: Desalination

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: This study presents an experimental investigation and a parametric analysis of the applicability of agricultural fertigation and power generation using a reverse electrodialysis-forward osmosis (RED-FO) hybrid system, with a water stream discharged from a fertilizer-producing plant. The results of this study demonstrated the possibility of achieving high salinity power generation from the RED system utilizing high-salinity brine and low-salinity ammonia solution that simulates reverse osmosis (RO) brine and wastewater streams released by the fertilizer-producing industry. The feasibility of stream dilution for fertigation application is demonstrated when the resulting moderately saline RED effluent is introduced into the FO process as a draw solution. The effect of external load addition, flow velocities variation, and concentration changes of the working solutions on the overall stack internal resistance and, thereby, RED performance was evaluated. As such, the lowest internal resistance converged to a threshold value of 4.03 Ω, giving the highest gross power density of 2.17 W/m2 when a flow velocity of 1.18 cm/s, 10 Ω external load, and 0.015 M (NH4)2SO4/1 M NaCl solution pair were utilized. In addition, the effect of the number of ion exchange membrane pairs and wastewater stream recycling was studied and optimized to amplify the osmotically generated power. As a result, the most consistent power generation was achieved when using 20 pairs of membrane cells in a single-pass flow mode operation. The applicability of the RED effluent to a subsequent FO system as a draw solution (DS) was investigated, showing a dilution rate (17 %) and a conductivity (1–2 mS/cm of DS) suitable for agricultural fertigation applications.

Available here.

Title: Treatment of laundry wastewater by different processes: Optimization and life cycle assessment

Authors: Melián, E.P., Santiago, D.E., León, E., Reboso, J.V., Herrera-Melián, J.A.

In: Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Wastewater from industrial laundries is often difficult to treat because it usually presents high turbidity and chemical oxygen demand (COD). We studied several processes for the treatment of laundry wastewater which was provided by a hotel in the south of Gran Canaria, Spain. More specifically, we studied coagulation with iron (III) sulphate, Fenton, photo-Fenton and a biological treatment (using a biofilter, and a granular activated carbon, GAC, filtration). The coagulation and Fenton processes produced large amounts of sludge and could not meet the required standards for water reuse in Spain. The use of photo-Fenton and the BF resulted in complete turbidity removal and high COD removal. However, we found that the effluent from the BF did not meet the COD removal criteria for water reuse, and thus a GAC filtration post-treatment was employed to reduce COD to acceptable levels. The photo-Fenton process alone did meet the criteria for water reuse. The estimated cost to treat 1 m3 of wastewater was 6.72€ for photo-Fenton and 0.71€ for BF + GAC. The cost and life cycle assessment analyses that were also performed revealed that the acquisition of the necessary reagents is the main contribution to the overall economic and environmental costs for both options, and that the BF + GAC option is notably cheaper. Additionally, this option also causes much lower environmental impacts than photo-Fenton.

Article available here.

Articles selection - November 2022

Want to keep up to date on the latest research on water reuse? Every quarter Water Reuse Europe selects for you five open-access trending articles on water reuse.

Enjoy the reading!

Title: Impact of wastewater treatment plants on microbiological contamination for evaluating the risks of wastewater reuse

Authors: Bonetta, S., Pignata, C., Gasparro, E., Richiardi, L., Bonetta, S., Carraro, E.

In: Desalination

Publisher: Environmental Sciences Europe

Abstract: Background: Wastewater reuse represents a promising alternative source of water supply considering the water scarcity related to climate change. However, if not adequately treated, wastewater represents a source of microbiological health risk. The purpose of this work was to investigate the role of wastewater treatment on microbiological contamination by evaluating the possible risks associated with wastewater effluent reuse, taking into account new EU legislation (2020/741) on minimum requirements for water reuse. E. coli that produce Shiga toxins (STEC) and thermotolerant Campylobacter were monitored using an enrichment step associated with specific PCR, while Salmonella spp. and Legionella were detected with both cultural and molecular methods (PCR and q-PCR, respectively). Culture method was also used for the enumeration of different microbial indicators. The bacteria detection was compared in different wastewater plants with membrane bioreactor (MBR) system or with disinfection step with chlorine dioxide (ClO2). Moreover a comparison between molecular and culture methods was discussed. Results: The results obtained showed good abatement performance for WWTPs equipped with MBR. The high concentrations of E. coli (range between 0.88 and 5.21 Log MPN/100 mL) and contamination by Salmonella spp. in effluent disinfected with ClO2 (17% of samples) showed the need to control the quality of this effluent. In addition, despite the absence of Legionella spp. with the culture method required by EU regulation, high concentrations of Legionella spp. (range between 2 and 7 log GU/L) and the presence of Leg. pneumophila with qPCR (15% of samples) highlight the need to carry out further investigations for reuse associated with aerosol formation (e.g. spray irrigation in agriculture). Conclusions: The results obtained underline that the MBR technology can be suitable for wastewater reuse applications allowing to achieve the requirement proposed by the new European legislation. More attention should be given to wastewater reuse of effluents treated with ClO2. The use of the molecular methods for pathogens detection in wastewater could allow a more precautionary risks estimation associated with reuse. The overall results highlight that an evaluation of the effectiveness of the wastewater treatments is required for the prevention of a possible risk to public health. © 2022, The Author(s).

Article available here.

Title: Bayesian estimation of seasonal and between year variability of norovirus infection risks for workers in agricultural water reuse using epidemiological data

Authors: Seis, W., Rouault, P., Miehe, U., ten Veldhuis, M.-C., Medema, G.

In: Water Research

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Norovirus infections are among the major causes of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. In Germany, norovirus infections are the most frequently reported cause of gastroenteritis, although only laboratory confirmed cases are officially counted. The high infectivity and environmental persistence of norovirus, makes the virus a relevant pathogen for water related infections. In the 2017 guidelines for potable water reuse, the World Health Organization proposes Norovirus as a reference pathogen for viral pathogens for quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). A challenge for QMRA is, that norovirus data are rarely available over long monitoring periods to assess inter-annual variability of the associated health risk, raising the question about the relevance of this source of variability regarding potential risk management alternatives. Moreover, norovirus infections show high prevalence during winter and early spring and lower incidence during summer. Therefore, our objective is to derive risk scenarios for assessing the potential relevance of the within and between year variability of norovirus concentrations in municipal wastewater for the assessment of health risks of fieldworkers, if treated wastewater is used for irrigation in agriculture. To this end, we use the correlation between norovirus influent concentration and reported epidemiological incidence (R²=0.93), found at a large city in Germany. Risk scenarios are subsequently derived from long-term reported epidemiological data, by applying a Bayesian regression approach. For assessing the practical relevance for wastewater reuse we apply the risk scenarios to different irrigation patterns under various treatment options, namely “status-quo” and “irrigation on demand”. While status-quo refers to an almost all-year irrigation, the latter assumes that irrigation only takes place during the vegetation period from May – September. Our results indicate that the log-difference of infection risks between scenarios may vary between 0.8 and 1.7 log given the same level of pre-treatment. They also indicate that under the same exposure scenario the between-year variability of norovirus infection risk may be > 1log, which makes it a relevant factor to consider in future QMRA studies and studies which aim at evaluating safe water reuse applications. The predictive power and wider use of epidemiological data as a suitable predictor variable should be further validated with paired multi-year data.

Article available here.

Title: Adoption of water reuse technologies: An assessment under different regulatory and operational scenarios

Authors: Cagno, E., Garrone, P., Negri, M., Rizzuni, A.

In: Journal of Environmental Management

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Water reuse technologies may alleviate the water scarcity problems that affect many world regions, but their adoption is still limited. In particular, key actors in the adoption of water reuse technologies are water utilities, that provide both urban water and wastewater treatment services. Water utilities are embedded in the urban water system, which includes several stakeholders (urban water users, citizens at large, the environment) that may drive or pose barriers to water reuse adoption. Therefore, to ensure a smooth introduction of water reuse technologies, it is fundamental to understand how water reuse interacts with the existing urban water system and impacts its stakeholders. This paper contributes to the ongoing debate on water reuse by conceptualizing the interaction between water reuse technologies and the urban water system and its stakeholders, and addressing the adoption decision of water utilities by assessing its economic and environmental consequences. Based on a review of literature, policy and other secondary documents, and on primary data coming from interviews with experts from a water utility operating in Southern Italy, the study models the utility’s response to a shift from urban to reuse water. It then simulates how reuse water introduction impacts on the utility and other stakeholders of the water system, under various regulatory and operational scenarios defined through a thorough analysis of policy documents and literature. Results show that the adoption of water reuse reduces the utility’s margin by cannibalizing urban water demand, but appropriate policy measures may enhance the economic sustainability of reuse. System-level performances, such as impact on freshwater savings, costs for users, effects on the public budget, are also assessed, showing how different regulatory options moderate the intensity of impacts for the different stakeholders of the water system. Furthermore, the adoption of reuse water by the most distant users is found to enhance the economic sustainability of reuse and positively impact the utility’s margin.

Article available here.

Title: The status of potable water reuse implementation

Authors: Jeffrey, P., Yang, Z., Judd, S.J.

In: Water Research

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: A review of the current status of direct and indirect potable water reuse (DPR/IPR) implementation has been conducted, focusing on the regulatory and practical aspects and with reference to the most recent published literature. The review encompasses (a) the principal contaminant types, their required removal and the methods by which their concentration is monitored, (b) regulatory approaches and stipulations in assessing/ratifying treatment schemes and maintaining treated water quality, and (c) existing full-scale installations. Analytical methods discussed include established in-line monitoring tools, such as turbidity measurement, to more recent polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay methods for microbial detection. The key risk assessment tools of quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and water safety plans (WSPs) are considered in relation to their use in selecting/ratifying treatment schemes, and the components of the treatment schemes from 40 existing IPR/DPR installations summarised. Five specific schemes are considered in more detail. The review reveals: 1 over half of the schemes identified employ reverse osmosis (RO) followed by UV disinfection, with UV-based advanced oxidation used in many modern schemes as the final step; 2 Whilst quantitative PCR appears to offer many advantages for microbial detection, due to its sensitivity and specificity, it nonetheless demands pre-concentration of the sample and is subject to interference leading to possible false positives; 3 QMRA studies suggest that the risk imposed by DPR and, in particular, IPR is very small compared with de facto reuse, the latter being subject to far less regulatory scrutiny; 4 There appears to be no evidence of acute conditions, and diarrhoeal disease specifically, from the few epidemiological studies which have been conducted; and. 5 IPR implementation becomes challenging if unbounded environmental waters are used as a buffer, since “zero deterioration” in environmental quality must then be demonstrated. Whilst there are a number of ongoing projects where RO is not used because of the challenge imposed by disposal of RO concentrate, the prevalence of the sequential RO-UV combination implies the importance of quantifying the impact of process upsets on these unit operations.

Article available here.

Title: Recycled water acceptance: Data from two Spanish regions with opposite levels of scarcity

Authors: Vila-Tojo, S., Sabucedo, J.-M., Andrade, E., Gómez-Román, C., Alzate, M., Seoane, G.

In: Data in Brief

Publisher: Elsevier


Abstract: The dataset presented in this paper were collected for testing a perceptive-axiological model of recycled water acceptance for low and high contact uses. Participants were selected by proportional random sampling by sex and age the two Spanish communities with the most extreme values of water stress (Galicia, the rainiest region and Murcia, the driest). Data were collected by a company specialized in market research using an online survey housed on Qualtrics. Participants who matched the specified profile were contacted by email. The company compensated them financially. The final sample size consisted of 726 valid responses. The survey collected data on a variety of variables related to three conceptual dimensions: the diagnosis of the environmental situation, the axiological influence and the public perceptions regarding recycled water. The survey also collected demographic data from respondents. The survey was designed and reviewed by four experts in social psychology and two experts in methodology. The dataset featured in this article provides the raw survey data plus sociodemographic distribution, survey items, and other statistical data. This is the first and most comprehensive set of comparative data known to the authors on public acceptance of water reuse for high and low contact uses comparing regions with and without water scarcity. The authors have published an open access paper based on this data set, which are linked to this paper. Water industry professionals, policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders aiming to implement wastewater reuse systems in society may be interested in using the data as a point of comparison for their own study on public acceptance of water reuse or examining the data for relationships not yet explored in the literature.

Article available here.

Articles selection - May 2021

Want to keep up to date on the latest research on water reuse? Every quater Water Reuse Europe selects for you five open-access trending articles on water reuse.

Enjoy the reading!

Title: Treatment of greenhouse wastewater for reuse or disposal using monovalent selective electrodialysis

Authors: Ahdab, Y.D., Schücking, G., Rehman, D., Lienhard, J.H., V.

In: Desalination

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Minimal liquid discharge (MLD) in greenhouses minimizes the volume of discharged wastewater, thereby increasing the volume of effluent that may be reused. Sodium accumulation in wastewater is often considered the main bottleneck to achieving 100% reuse. Consequently, greenhouses have begun adopting reverse osmosis (RO), the most commonly used desalination technology for wastewater treatment. RO removes ions from wastewater indiscriminately, including multivalent nutrients to crops (Ca2+, Mg2+, SO42−, PO43−). In contrast, monovalent selective electrodialysis (MSED) selectively removes monovalent sodium while retaining multivalent nutrients in solution. For greenhouses that have not achieved MLD, MSED has an alternative application of reducing levels of nitrate, a monovalent ion and agricultural pollutant, in wastewater for disposal. This paper investigates the monovalent selectivity and potential of the widely-used Neosepta MSED membranes and the new Fujifilm MSED membranes to treat wastewater in greenhouses for reuse or discharge. Eight effluent compositions are tested as feedwater in a laboratory MSED system. Both membranes demonstrate selectivity towards sodium and nitrate across the tested compositions. Fujifilm cation-exchange membranes remove two to six sodium ions, compared to Neosepta’s two to eight, for every magnesium ion. Fujifilm anion-exchange membranes remove two to seven nitrate ions, compared to Neosepta’s two to six, for every sulfate ion.

Article available here

water droplet with a reflectionTitle: Fate of N-nitrosodimethylamine and its precursors during a wastewater reuse trial in the Llobregat River (Spain)

Authors: Šereš, M., Innemanová, P., Hnátková, T., Rozkošný, M., Stefanakis, A., Semerád, J., Cajthaml, T.

In: Journal of Hazardous Materials

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Agriculture is being negatively affected by the decrease in precipitation that has been observed over the last few years. Even in the Czech Republic, farmers are being urged to irrigate their fields despite the fact that sources of water for irrigation are rapidly being depleted. This problem might be partially solved via the reuse of treated wastewater in certain agricultural sectors. However, the public perception of the reuse of wastewater remains negative primarily due to unknown risks to the environment and public health. To overcome this barrier, a semi-operated irrigation field was established at Kostelec nad Ohří in the Central Bohemian region of the Czech Republic and planted with common garden crops such as tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum), potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) and lettuces (Lactuca sativa L.) irrigated with two different water sources, i.e., treated wastewater from a local nature-based treatment system, a hybrid constructed wetland (HCW), and local fresh water from well. The HCW was put into operation in 2017 and was reconstructed in 2018 and includes both horizontal and vertical flow beds; the trial irrigation field was added in the same year. The reconstruction of the facility significantly enhanced the removal efficiency with respect to all monitored parameters, e.g., biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), N–NH4+, total N and the suspended solids (TSS), except for total P. The HCW also ensured the significant removal of several observed pathogenic microorganisms (E. coli, intestinal enterococci and thermotolerant coliforms). During the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons, we observed the significantly enhanced growth of the crops irrigated with wastewater from the HCW due to the fertilizing effect. The risks associated with the contamination of crops irrigated with treated water are not negligible and it is necessary to pay sufficient attention to them, especially when introducing irrigation with wastewater into practice.

 Article available here.

Title: Reuse of treated water in European agriculture: Potential to address water scarcity under climate change

Authors: Hristov, J., Barreiro-Hurle, J., Salputra, G., Blanco, M., Witzke, P.

In: Agricultural Water Management

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: The use of reclaimed or treated water from urban wastewater treatment plants for irrigation has been proposed as an alternative water source to address water scarcity issues in Europe. In this paper using agro-economic modelling, we analyse if treated water available for agriculture has the potential to reduce freshwater abstraction and, consequently, water stress. Implementing exogenous treated water quantities as an additional water supply at NUTS 2 level in the CAPRI model, we found that treated water reuse is a possible alternative supply source to address water shortages with a very negligible effect on farmers’ income and food production in the EU. However, the actual water reuse and water stress reduction is very limited due to high costs. Even climate change effects on water availability and precipitation failed to induce higher use. The one-size-fits-all approach modelled via a flat rate water price only encourages the reuse of treated water in a limited number of EU member states. Thus, in order to maximise the potential of reused water to address water scarcity, different rates should be used so as to ensure higher treated water volumes at lower costs.

Article available here.

transparent bar graph with water

Title: Making Waves: Why water reuse frameworks need to co-evolve with emerging small-scale technologies

Authors:Reynaert, E., Hess, A., Morgenroth, E.

In:Water Research X

Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract: Novel technologies allow to reuse or recycle water for on-site applications such as toilet flushing, showering, or hand washing at the household- or building-scale. Many of these technologies have now reached technology readiness levels that require for verification and validation testing in the field. Results from such field tests of decentralized water reuse systems have been published over the past few years, and observed performance is often compared to quality targets from water reuse frameworks (WRFs). An inspection of ten recent journal publications reveals that targets from WRFs are often misinterpreted, and the emphasis of these publications is too often on demonstrating successful aspects of the technologies rather than critically evaluating the quality of the produced water. We hypothesize that some of these misinterpretations are due to ambiguous definition of scopes of WRFs (e.g., “unrestricted urban reuse”) and unclear applicability for novel recycling systems that treat the water for applications that go beyond the reuse scopes defined in current WRFs. Additional challenges are linked to the verification of WRF quality targets in small-scale and decentralized systems under economic and organizational constraints. Current WRFs are not suitable for all possible reuse cases, and there is need for a critical discussion of quality targets and associated monitoring methods. As the scope of water reuse has expanded greatly over the past years, WRFs need to address new applications and advances in technology, including in monitoring capacities.

Article available here.

water drop with circles

Title: From Acceptance Snapshots to the Social Acceptability Process: Structuring Knowledge on Attitudes Towards Water Reuse

Authors: Al-Saidi, M.

In: Frontiers in Environmental Science

Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.

Abstract: Water reuse is considered a technologically viable option to meet the increasing demands of the domestic, industrial and agricultural sectors. Alongside challenges such as environmental health, infrastructure and regulations, water reuse is often hindered by lack of acceptance and dismissive attitudes. This paper seeks to structure knowledge about acceptance of water use. It provides a systematic look at the overall reuse challenges and social attitudes towards water reuse considering the three integrative elements of water reuse, namely the water source, the technology, and the end use. It first maps the challenges and common insights that constitute the enigma of water reuse acceptance. Later, it conceptualizes acceptance as a social process consisting of the interdependent components of public perception, politicization, individual acceptance, and use adaptation. Using this conceptual framework, solutions to increasing water acceptance stemming from different bodies of acceptance studies are reviewed. The paper reiterates the need for a nuanced view on water reuse acceptance that incorporates spatio-temporal considerations as well as knowledge from different disciplines.

Article available here

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