5. Impact

The overall aim of the topic is to contribute in overcoming the paradox of European research, which struggles with the enormous gap between the high level of scientific knowledge production and the low level of translating this knowledge into innovative marketable applications. Therefore the promising results of two former projects are taken up and merged into an innovative, new idea.

The proposed project contributes towards the expected impacts listed in the work programme (EC 2011) and addresses the specific topic KBBE.2012.1.4-02, as it intends to:
  • Scale up, optimize and demonstrate the benefits of innovative and safe wastewater treatment and reuse technologies, based on outcomes of previous European research initiatives (prototypes, operational tools, management systems);
  • Verify the performance and long term viability of low-energy MBR systems in real cases from an integrated point of view considering technical, economical, operational, environmental, social and health aspects;
  • Bring forward the stage of the development to reach the last stage before entering the production and the market through tests and validation of the existing results via demonstration and RTD activities, thus fostering the market uptake for SMEs in the close future;
  • Disseminate the project results amongst a broadest audience as possible, public authorities and local farmers;
  • Accomplish technology transfer, training- and standardisation activities in cooperation with appropriate European bodies;
  • Provide a toolbox of technological solutions and related guidelines, that decision makers can undertake immediate and long-term effective strategies to reduce negative environmental effects;
  • Strengthen the European and Mediterranean Agricultural sector, which faces severe environmental legislation and concurrently strong reductions in profit margins due to increasing fertilizer prices and water shortages;
  • Support the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (2000), the Directive on pollution caused by dangerous substances (2006), and the Directive on Environmental Quality standards (2008);
  • Foster the aims pronounced by the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (2004) or the European Strategy for key enabling Technologies (2009);
  • Stimulate the development of new patents and dedicated business plans through a strong involvement of European SMEs, which own the IPR of the produced results and knowledge;
In detail, the project will have the following major direct impacts:
  • Develop and present novel and efficient solutions for treatment and reuse of wastewater to European´s policy makers and legal representative in order to support them with needed information and strategies for a long-term reduction of environmental pollution;
  • Foster the market implementation & feasibility by a commercial prototype and monitoring their long-term performance;
  • Strengthen the market potential of the participating SMEs (increase the turnover by 15%) and end-users (higher productivity and reduced costs for water and fertilizer) and thus their overall competitiveness in Europe;
  • Provide monitoring and performance data regarding the long –term viability of those technologies to ensure precise, effective and reliable performance;
  • Increasing the number of southern European farmers with access to a reliable amount of safe irrigation water and nutrients for their agricultural production. There are two main target groups, first farmers which use already wastewater for irrigation (increase of treatment efficiency and effluent quality) and farmers which suffer from water shortages and are interested in alternative water sources. The share of farmers which will use treated wastewater as a save source for irrigation will be increased by 15% in Spain and 10% throughout the southern Europe. Regarding the number of more than 1.5 million farmers in the region, this would result in a potential of at least 150.000 TREAT&USE units;
  • Ensure the safe, local and cheap reuse of nutrient rich wastewater through closing the local nutrient cycle, while protecting water bodies and groundwater from negative impacts.
  • Ease the stress on natural water resources and protect them from pollution through discharge of untreated wastewater;
  • Provide an energy and cost efficient wastewater treatment for decentralized wastewater treatment to develop peri-urban and rural areas in Southern Europe and to ensure safe water supply to farmers in water scarce periods, thus reducing harvest loses;
  • Provide a safe and healthy working environment for farmers applying wastewater for irrigation;
  • Ensure clean harvesting products which are healthy and do not spread potential risks to consumers.
  • minimising fertilizer and water consumption (substituting 35% of the freshwater abstraction for irrigation and 15% of fertilizer would result in ca.30,000 Mm³ water and 4,560,000t fertilizer savings) 
Moreover, the following indirect or secondary impacts will be addressed:
  • Strengthen the European and Mediterranean agricultural sector by supporting them to cope with upcoming legislation on wastewater treatment and water and fertilizer shortages.
  • Strengthen the development of rural areas by giving the agricultural production a sustainable base in terms of water and nutrient supply (closed loop approach);
  • Foster European Sector of Environmental technologies and biotechnology and thereby facilitate economic growth combined with sustainable developments. Specifically, this adopts the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (EC 2004) and the European strategy for key enabling technologies (EC 2009).
All previously mentioned impacts require the intense and result-oriented follow-up of the TREAT&USE work plan, described in detail along chapter
  1. First of all this will be started by preparing essential background knowledge for starting all TREAT&USE research activities within work package
  2. Thereon based and considering the specific needs of end users and local cultivated crops, a tailor-made MBR system will be designed and developed and local irrigation technologies will be adapted or new ones are installed. Once the entire system is implemented and functioning a demonstration and validation phase of 7 month is carried out. Within that a lot of specific performance parameters are investigated to finally evaluate the overall performance of the TREAT&USE system. Moreover the demonstration phase provides time for various optimisation actions. All gained knowledge will be adopted for a planned market uptake and is used to develop marketing strategies and business plans. The spreading of all TREAT&USE achievement will finally be reached via the dissemination activities