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Project Innovative Wastewater Treatment Application for Isolated Locations

Due to the likely toughening of environmental legislation in the near future, many of the currently operating wastewater treatment systems will no longer be acceptable, and will have to significantly increase their efficiency. The Directive 2000/60/EC, establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, says that Member States shall establish maximum annual averages for the release of certain pollutants, such as substances that have an unfavourable influence on oxygen balance. Stricter regulations can be found for especially sensitive areas, for areas of abstraction of drinking water or for bathing waters.

The problem of meeting existing and forecasted more stringent new regulations affects especially small communities, hotels, campsites, etc in more or less isolated or remote areas and without access to sophisticated centralised wastewater treatment plants. Moreover, in the case of tourist resorts, it is not unusual that the wastewater load is increased up to five times during holidays season, making it impossible for local treatment systems to maintain an acceptable organic removal. On the other hand, these tourist locations frequently require to maintain a very high water quality (including the microbiological quality) in order to keep or increase the rate of visitors (especially in mountain lakes, coastal areas, etc).

Project number COOP-CT-2004-508144
Acronym IWAPIL
Geographical coverage Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy
Budget (in €) 844821
Programme INCO MED (FP6) - Cooperative Research
Web site
Objectives The aim of the present project IWAPIL is to develop and test an innovative a membrane bioreactor (MBR) intended for use in remote communities, mountain hotels, campsites, etc. The new system will be based on a newly developed membrane and membrane module and will allow to overcome most of the problems that make nowadays MBR’s not practicable for decentralised uses, where no skilled operators can be present. The innovative characteristics of the mentioned new membrane and membrane module will make it possible to achieve a low-maintenance costs and extremely efficient wastewater treatment system, whose effluent can be even reused either for irrigation or toilet flushing purposes, as it is totally germ-free.

Industrial objectives of IWAPIL

The industrial objectives of the IWAPIL project can be summarised as follows:
  • To develop and test a new MBR based on an innovative membrane and membrane module able to compete in price with existing systems (reasonable energy consumption, low membrane replacement rate, reduced cleaning chemicals use) for decentralised use in camping sites and hotels or small communities in isolated locations.
  • To achieve much more efficient depuration rates than existing decentralised plants, allowing to meet the most stringent current and future regulations, and even to reuse the water due to the total absence of pathogens.
To achieve a highly automated system with minimum maintenance which does not require skilled operators.

The environmental and social objectives of the IWAPIL project are:
  • To dramatically improve the environmental performance of decentralised wastewater plants all over Europe.
  • To allow the saving of important amounts of water through reuse, and to reduce the generation of sludge (waste).
  • To benefit the European tourism sector in remote areas through the effective conservation of the water resources, thus maintaining or creating new employments.
  • To promote the creation of new employments in the European wastewater sector in order to produce and install the new decentralised MBR systems and their components.
  • To promote the overall global competitiveness of the membrane sector for wastewater applications in Europe: it has to be mentioned that the PURON membrane system is the first totally European development in this field (the competing MBR systems are delivered by Canadian and Japanese companies)

Period [01/05/2004 - 30/04/2006]