The Spanish research institute located in Madrid has developed a land application system which are ecological non-conventional wastewater treatment technologies in line with EU research and innovation policy agenda on nature-based solutions and re-naturing cities. These eco-technologies represent a very interesting solution for the treatment and management of wastewater from small municipalities that require low installation, operating and maintenance costs. They can also be considered for the regeneration and reuse of treated water from a secondary or tertiary process. Under certain conditions, the use of land application systems can mean an improvement in environmental management systems and corporate social responsibility, encouraging the sustainable use of resources, the circular economy and the protection of the environment.
Briefly, a land application system is a plot area, sized according to the influent to be treated, where a plantation is irrigated with wastewater. Part of the applied water evaporates, another part is absorbed by roots and the rest infiltrates in soil, recharging the underlying aquifer. The water treatment is produced by physical, chemical and biological processes that take place by the joint action of soil, microorganisms and plants. In certain cases, a primary treatment system, to remove coarse solids before application to the soil, would be advisable.
These systems provide more than just simple treatment because while treating water, they are also producing biomass with high economic value. Numerous functions and ecosystem services are also provided, such as aquifer recharge, ecological niche, carbon sequestration, and landscape improvement, among others. Unlike conventional wastewater treatment systems, no external energy input is needed, so the operating and maintenance costs are greatly reduced. Furthermore, it is a robust technology and the operation is very simple. These eco-technologies are therefore ideal for the treatment of urban wastewater from small towns that cannot effort conventional wastewater treatment technology and has strong flow oscillations (between winter and summer period).
The research institute is looking for industries (textile, agri-food, etc) and small municipalities for the design, implementation and/or monitoring of optimized LASs, as wells as companies from the chemical, environmental, agri-food and ICTs sectors to reach commercial agency agreements to improve both design and monitoring.