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Conditioning of drinking water with constructed wetlands.

We will develop a system for drinking water treatment with a co-natural technology called ecoremediation (erm), which can be used for cleaning drinking water, enriching groundwater and protecting water sources.

Clean drinking water makes life possible and is one of the main conditions for a healthy life. We have to be aware that every contact with water has an immediate effect as water through its circulation transports hazardous substances, which could be harmful to humans. The quality of underground water and consequently of the drinking water has been deteriorating during the recent period. One of the main reasons for the pollution with microorganisms, nitrites, nitrates, pesticides and their derivates is intensive agricultural activity. Pesticides and their derivates are present in drinking water for a long period because of their long residence time. Moreover, nitrates in the human body reduce to nitrites which cause different carcinogenic substances. By Slovenian and EU regulations, 2% of samples were unsuitable in 2005, mostly due to the contamination with pesticides and their derivates, and 35% because of exceeding microbiological parameters; in most cases Escherichia coli were present. According to the drinking water report from 2005, 8% of the residents of the REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA are supplied from small drinking-water catchments, where conventional treatment of drinking water is a problem because of the high costs of technology. All mentioned problems force us to develop and introduce alternative ways for drinking water treatment, especially where drinking water is not treated and public health is endangered. In classical technologies for drinking water treatment, the most common way for removing the particles is the use of sand filters, pesticides with membranes and adsorption filters and nitrates with reverse osmosis or chemicals (ion exchange). Nano-filtration can be used for removing the dissolved organic carbon, nitrates and pesticides and reducing the water hardness. Bacteria can be removed by membrane filtration and also with different chemicals (ozone, hydrogen peroxide, different chlorides). The problem with these processes lies in the possibility of changing the chemical water structure. Chlorination of water loaded with organic matter causes the formation of carcinogenic AOX (Adsorbable organic halogen compounds) compounds. Also, organic chlorides may be formed by ozonisation, and bromide ion oxidises to bromate ion. All these technologies are very complicated and expensive and thus inaccessible to small communities with less than 500 residents. Very efficient, simple and more accessible is the use of eco-remediation methods (ERM), which combine bioremediation, fitoremediation and mikoremediation. ERM technologies use natural, co-natural and artificial ecosystems for environmental protection and restoration. Such ecosystems have strong buffer, purification and biodiversity capacities, and they are able to assist by neutralization and decomposition of wasted waters, lands and the air from different pollution sources (agriculture, tourist facilities, industry, landfill sites, settlements) to different waters (underground waters, freshwaters,etc.). With a relatively low cost, we can achieve a relatively high level of efficiency when protecting the environment, drinking water sources, underground water, streams, rivers, lakes and the sea. This technology is most appropriate in rural areas. One of the efficient ERM methods very often used for cleaning waste waters from different sources are constructed wetlands (CW). The advantage of using CWs is their simple technology, reliability and low maintenance costs. They are used worldwide mostly for cleaning sewage waste waters. Their efficiency in removing nitrogen in different forms (nitrites, nitrates and ammonia), heavy metals, pathogens and also pesticides is very high. All these cleaning capabilities can be used for drinking water conditioning or groundwater recharge from fresh waters (lakes). While a few CW systems for groundwater recharge exist today, CWs for conditioning of drinking water are a scientific novelty. We expect to solve all the above listed problems by conditioning drinking water with CWs. We also expect to eliminate all kinds of pathogens (faecal or non-faecal). With precise dimensioning, appropriate design, substrates and plants in CWs, it is also possible to clean BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand), COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), nitrates, nitrites and heavy metals, which we have already confirmed through much research. Although still necessary due to legislation and the possibility of contamination in drinking water supply systems, chlorination of thus conditioned drinking water will be minimal. With drinking water conditioning, we will also eliminate all substances resulting from conventional drinking water treatment. Today, the sustainable approach to environmental protection and consequently in the field of drinking water protection is more and more present. The first step in water source protection is the protection and prevention of additional pollution. The second step is the restoration of the natural dynamic balance of the ecosystem in water protected areas, which could be achieved through eco-remediation.
Acronym: 
WETPUR
Project ID: 
4 211
Start date: 
01-06-2008
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
400 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Drink Technology
Market Area: 
Food and Beverages

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.