Friday, October 30, 2020

The reutilization of wastewater and sewage sludges for crop irrigation and fertilization represents a concrete possibility regions to conserve freshwater and to generate an alternative source of organic matter for the agro-environment. However, the safety concerns linked to the contamination of ecosystems with organic pollutants highlight the urgent need of developing techniques to minimize risks associated with irrigation with treated wastewater and fertilization with sewage sludge.

RESIDUE project proposes an innovative solution for the reuse of wastewater for agricultural purposes in conditions of water scarcity and climate change, encouraging the spread of sustainable agricultural practices. The use of wastewater represents a resource with undoubted environmental and agricultural advantages and numerous countries in the Mediterranean basin, including Spain, Italy and Israel, adopt this strategy to face long periods of drought and conserve water resources for civil use. The use of regenerated water is not free from some risks for public health, due to its microbiological content. The RESIDUE project aims at assessing the potential risks arising from the use of wastewater for irrigation and sewage sludge as fertilizers, from the possible exposure of the soil to contaminants and their absorption by plants during agricultural practices , with the ultimate aim of developing a technology able to significantly reduce the risk of transfer of organic and pathogenic contaminants to agricultural products. In many European countries, the legislation in this regard is fragmentary, therefore the RESIDUE project can contribute to the definition of the conditions for the wastewater and sewage sludge utilization, by protecting consumer’s health. The RESIDUE operational plan will follow a three-step approach:

1. Determination of the potential risks deriving from the use of effluents from the wastewater treatment plants to bridge any knowledge gaps in current purification practices.

2. Development of a new composting technique for residual sludges based on the production of biochar and its integration into the traditional composting process.

3. Experimental verification of the sustainability of the detoxification of the substrate in soils irrigated with wastewater, also through the use of reference substances radiolabelled with 14C, in order to understand the processes underlying the processes of (bio)-degradation and sequestration of contaminants

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