Smart decentralized water management through a dynamic integration of technologies

The WATINTECH project proposes a combination of concepts of sewer mining with urban run-off treatment in decentralized treatment facilities to enhance the recovery of valuable resources including water, methane (heat, energy) and value-added chemicals, either extracting or producing them from the fluxes inside a sewage pipe. It is also postulated that this combination improves the management of centralized wastewater infrastructures under variable weather events (such as heavy rain episodes combined with long dry periods). The impact of sewer mining and wastewater characteristics on downstream wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) will also be analysed. In an ideal scenario, besides generating the value-added products for local reuse, decentralized treatment will also impact positively on the existing centralized sewage collection and treatment facilities, an aspect rarely taken into account in the design of decentralized infrastructure.

WATINTECH summons an inter-disciplinary consortium offering capabilities that cover the whole R&D value chain – from fundamental research to market uptake. The project will advance the state-of-the-art of novel technologies to achieve five main objectives in four experimental work packages employing different size laboratory and pilot-plants and one theoretical work package modelling process innovations and providing system wide optimization.

The project is structured around 5 Work Packages (WP):

WP1. – Reclaimed water production from sewage and urban run-off. A combination of forward osmosis (FO) and reverse osmosis (RO) will be studied to generate concentrated wastewater and reclaimed water. Wetlands will be studied to treat urban run-off. The concentrated wastewater will be treated by anaerobic digestion (WP2 activity), whereby the resulting residual nutrient rich waste stream can be used to manage the wetland’s nutrient needs and water requirements, the latter being particularly useful during dry periods.

WP2.– Energy recovery via anaerobic digestion of FO concentrated wastewater in a membrane bioreactor. Sulphide inhibition of methanogenesis will be remediated by a novel approach coupling an electrochemical system to oxidise sulphide.

WP3.– Caustic soda and oxygen generation from sewage via electrochemical treatment and study of efficiency to manage sewer corrosion and odour by addition of these chemicals locally.

WP4.– Impact on centralised wastewater treatment. Optimization of nutrient removal at the centralized wastewater treatment under conditions of changed wastewater composition resulting from upstream decentralized treatment. A focus will be on energy efficiency and low direct greenhouse gas emissions.

WP5.– Modelling of novel processes and decision support system. Mathematical models will be developed and, jointly with economic, environmental, technical, and social criteria, will be used to construct a decision support system that allows designing decentralized system approaches and how their potentially multiple functions can be prioritized to yield the benefits most needed in a particular situation. Such a decision support system will also be useful to identify hot spots (e.g. of sewer corrosion) to place decentralized systems strategically instead of on an ad hoc basis.


Duration:36 months
Total budget:
LEQUIA grant:220.000 Euros (ICRA alliance)
Program:Water JPI – WaterWorks 2014