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Nicola Montemurro


Project Description

All over the world the reuse for irrigation of agro-industrial and municipal treated wastewaters is continuously increasing due to the water shortening and to the necessity of assuring environment protection (reduction of uncontrolled ground-waters exploiting and of water bodies pollution due to wastewaters discharge). However, in Italy, this practice has not yet been established in water management policies. Also in Apulia region, where the recent Piano di Tutela delle Acque and the current political programs allow the reuse, its practical implementation encounters problems and delays due to: 1) High depuration costs caused by the severe actual laws that, without considering the goal of the reuse (crop type and agronomic technique adopted, etc.), impose strict thresholds (L. 185/03), requiring the adoption of very expensive tertiary treatments. 2) Adoption of management strategies and conventional depuration technologies aimed to produce treated wastewaters to be discharged in the water bodies and whose thresholds are in line with this goal. On the contrary, the wastewater treatment for irrigation should be considered a transformation process, whose raw material is the wastewater while the final product is an alternative hydric resource. To this aim, plants projecting should be revised, modified and simplified as the complete removal of some substances (e.g. organic matter and nutrients) could even be not necessary. Such approach would also allow a significant cost reduction. 3) Concerns connected to the difficulty of managing technologically complex structures with the risk of not being able to respect the actual law (L. 185/03). 4) Farmers, mass media and regional authorities negative perception towards the risks associated with wastewater irrigation reuse. In order to furnish a contribute to overcome the cited problems, the In.Te.R.R.A. project aims to study, experiment and propose innovative and sustainable, technological and process, strategies aiming to promote an ample implementation of the irrigation reuse of agro-industrial and municipal treated wastewaters at a regional and national scale. In detail, the expected results concern: a) the technical and economical optimisation of the management of wastewater treatment systems through the simplification of treatment processes and avoiding the removal of substances useful for the soil and crops; b) the definition of guidelines for irrigation reuse of treated wastewaters with different microbial content as function of crop type (food or no-food) and agronomical management with the final aim of actual laws revision; c) the verification of the efficacy of quick and low cost tests for the evaluation, also in field conditions, of soils and waters eco-toxicity; d) the achievement of low cost sensors for continuous wastewaters quality monitoring and data remote acquisition; e) the development of shared processes and methodologies to inform and interest the stakeholders (farmers, plants managers, institutions, consumers) for a shared management of hydric resources; f) the evaluation through LCA methodologies of environmental aspects concerning different wastewater management modalities. The possible increase of the actual microbiological thresholds together with the adoption of innovative and sustainable technologies for agro-industrial and municipal wastewater treatment would make feasible the irrigation reuse. The technological and management innovations, which the project aims to achieve, will contribute to arise the competitiveness of the partners involved in the related market.

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