Innovative solutions for wastewater management in rural areas

Poland's accession to the European Union demands to be adjusted to many areas of life to European standards. Particularly large investments represent challenges that must be accomplished in the near future to meet the demands of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. One of the most important problems in the management of waters is their protection against eutrophication. Solution to the problem of eutrophication in Poland is connected with the development of prevention strategies not only for large cities, but also for the rural areas. These areas due to specific economic activity (agriculture) are particularly vulnerable to eutrophication, and the integrated management of water resources in these conditions is particularly important.

About 30% of Polish population lives in rural areas. These areas are characterized with a huge disproportion between number of people that are supplied with water system and those who are using sewage systems connected to sewage treatment plants. Therefore to resolve the eutrophication problem, there is a demand for working out the strategy not only for urban agglomerations (prevailing point sources), but also for rural areas (dispersed point and nonpoint sources) with less compact settlement. In rural areas, due to specific conditions, the construction of conventional systems for collection and treatment of sewage is often difficult from technical and financial point of view. Thereby there might be applied natural methods of sewage treatment, for example with the use of macrophytes and aquatic plants, so called hydrophytes, or other small scale systems. Hydrophyte systems may serve as facilities for removal of pollutants from diffused and field sources (for example from farmlands), and from point sources (for purification of municipal sewage, small scale food-industry or leachate) as well as facilities for utilization of sewage sludge. Biomass produced from hydrophytes can also be utilized as a local energy source.

The aim of the project is to reduce eutrophication of surface waters in the surveyed catchments (Borucinka and Grabia) through analysis and presentation of innovative solutions concerning sewage sludge management for rural areas. This purpose will be achieved through determination of innovative technologies for sewage treatment and sludge management, estimation of natural environment potential in limitation of pollution discharge in the catchment and through elaborating solutions that integrate technological and natural potentials. An important issue in testing new solutions will be the possibility for energy recovery and closure of water and material flow in small-scale systems

An unique and innovative element of the project is the integration of technological aspects and the potential of the natural environment, aiming to reduce the inflow of nutrients to surface waters. Works will be performed by the team of researchers from Gdansk University of Technology, Gdansk University and Lodz University as well as from Bioforsk - the Norwegian Institute. Project work will be coordinated by Pomeranian Centre for Environmental Research and Technology - POMCERT. Steering Committee, consisting of scientists in the related fields of science, will be responsible for supervision of the scientific level of the project.