Reclaimed municipal wastewater is considered as a valuable non-conventional water resource. Especially in water scarce regions of the Mediterranean, the use of non-conventional water resources to complement or replace the use of fresh water resources provides multiple benefits in terms of supporting the local economy (e.g. in irrigated agriculture), improving the living standards of societies, reducing the pressures on natural resources and addressing climate change challenges.
Unfortunately, a substantial number of wastewater treatment plants installed in the Mediterranean region, particularly in MENA countries, have proven unsuccessful copies of western-based treatment system concepts. Aside from their high operational and maintenance costs these systems are often unsuited to address the local challenges of wastewater treatment. As a result, treated municipal water as a non-conventional water resource is commonly underexploited throughout the region.
To address these challenges, AquaCycle is set to bring an eco-innovative wastewater treatment technology that will consist of anaerobic digestion, constructed wetlands, and solar treatment for the cost-effective treatment of urban wastewater with minimal cost of operation and maximum environmental benefit. In doing so, AquaCycle aspires to change the paradigm of viewing wastewater as an unsafe effluent, to that of an abundant all-year-round resource that has multiple uses.
Moreover, as the novel technology will permit the recovery of valuable substances from the treated effluent, i.e. fertilizer and biogas, AquaCycle is set to showcase a prime example with regard to the transition to the circular economy. The constructed wetlands will be carefully designed to permit a rich biodiversity to thrive and serve as a tourist attraction.
The active involvement of local actors and stakeholders throughout the project duration, will be pursued through the use of novel participatory techniques that are set to introduce new governance mechanisms. In particular, by employing public participatory GIS, known as PPGIS, the stakeholders themselves will be encouraged to bring inputs towards the drawing up of municipal wastewater reuse action plans.
A Charter, promoting the reuse of municipal wastewater treatment will be drawn up, based on the insights and feedback collected from the multitude of actors and stakeholders that will be joining a series of participatory workshops that will be organized around the pilot demonstration sites in Lebanon, Spain and Tunisia.