LIFE Drain Rain allows runoff waters reuse in agricultural and urban irrigation along with all purpouse cleanings
The results of pilots in Ferrol and Calasparra verify the elimination of pollutants, increasing the availability of a basic and now “circular” resource to reduce water stresses associated with droughts.
In the 1,744 water analysis developed, the removal of heavy metals, fossil fuel residues, pesticides and contamination by E. coli bacteria was verified.
The conclusions of this project funded by the LIFE program of the European Union were presented during the final event inaugurated by the director of the Port Authority of Ferrol-San Cibrao, Jesús Casás López.
On October 20th, at the CIS Tecnoloxía e Deseño de A Cabana (Ferrol) the results of LIFE Drain Rain were presented. The project achieved the capture and improvement of the quality of runoff water also allowing its reuse for irrigation, urban irrigation and all kinds of cleaning and washing. At the opening of the event, the director of the Port Authority of Ferrol-San Cibrao, Jesús Casás López, highlighted the importance of the LIFE program and the LIFE Drain Rain project, in particular to contribute to solving environmental problems so pressing at this time. Casás also mentioned the Port Authority’s commitment with this type of initiatives and with innovation.
The LIFE Drain Rain project was planned to solve the problems associated with runoff water, as a response to rainwater dragging pollutants present on surfaces. This phenomena has a very important environmental impact, especially in paved areas where compact materials do not retain water. In addition, with violent and sudden rains, paved land favors flooding.
Due to the increase in episodes of extreme rainfall, as a consequence of climate change, and a greater extension of paved areas, the problem of runoff water has become highly relevant.
LIFE Drain Rain studied a solution to these problems in two different contexts: a port environment and a road, being representative examples of paved areas where rainfall carries pollutants. In the port, pollutants accumulate due to years of industrial and urban activity in the area as well as the current activity of this key infrastructure (loading / unloading of goods, transit of machinery etc.). In the case of the road, vehicles are the main source of pollution.
In addition to draining runoff water and removing contaminants, LIFE Drain Rain allows to obtain water for reuse that will increase the availability of resources in some applications. Thus, the water stresses associated with droughts will be reduced.
The LIFE Drain Rain solution proposes a combined system to drain water from runoff through a porous pavement that contains a photocatalytic material degrading pollutants. The solution is completed by a modular on-site water treatment system.
Two pilot plants
The first of the pilots was installed in the port area of Ferrol, a location with a high level of rainfall and a problem associated with the pollution of the Ría de Ferrol, a source of natural and socioeconomic resources. The results achieved, after 89 samplings with 159 water samples and 1,215 analyses carried out, reveal a reduction between 80 and 100% of the total suspended solids; 100% of the contamination by the E Coli bacter; between 75 and 100% of heavy metals; between 80% and 100% of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, PAHs (which come mainly from residues from the use of fossil fuels); more than 95% of Polychlorinated Biphenyls, PCBs (which come from materials already disused but still present in the environment) and more than 95% of pesticides.
A second pilot was installed in Calasparra (Murcia). The location was in the road RM-714 road allowing to validate the system in an area with low rainfall and high needs of water availability for irrigation. After 66 samplings, 102 water samples and 529 analyses, the results show a reduction of between 85 and 95% of total suspended solids, between 99 and 100% of E. Coli bacteria and 68% of metals.
In conclusion, it should be highlighted that LIFE Drain Rain reduces pollution and allows the regeneration of water. According to Spanish legislation this water can be used in urban uses such as irrigation of green areas, street cleaning, fire systems or industrial washing of vehicles and also, in the case of the road, for irrigation water in growing food for raw consumption, non-food crops or crops for industry and energy production, according to European regulations.
It has been demonstrated that LIFE Drain Rain is a versatile system applicable to different casuistry and meteorological circumstances. These features are key to its future transferability to new locations and replicability in new use cases, as promoted by the LIFE program.
Local synergies for global problems
Among the speakers invited to the event there were representatives of other relevant European projects currently developing activities and technologies to contribute to the improvement of water quality, the reduction of pollution and the change to sustainable and circular models in water management.
This is the case of the LIFE GREEN SEWER project, led by the CETIM technology center, which aims to validate a new secondary wastewater treatment system based on a direct‑indirect osmosis integration with an anaerobic membrane bioreactor. The system allows at the same time the recovery of energy and resources, reducing the presence of pollutants, costs and energy consumption. Saínza Arufe, researcher of the Area of Eco Bio Technologies of CETIM, presented the progress of the project, which is now in the validation phase of its pilot plant in the WWTP of Ferrol-Narón, located in Cabo Prioriño.
Dr. Jose Anta, from the Water and Environmental Engineering Group (GEAMA) of the School of Roads, Channels and Ports of the University of A Coruña (UDC), also participated in the conference , as coordinator of the European project H2020 Co-UDlabs. Urban drainage systems in Europe are ageing, however, they are critical infrastructures for protecting public health, reducing pollution impacts, and controlling flood risk. This European project aims to develop innovative solutions and technologies that allow existing systems to face current and future challenges, such as increasing urbanization or climate change. The particularity of this project is that, to achieve this goal, it will develop a network of laboratories throughout Europe, open to researchers and technicians from all over the world, so that they can develop their experiments and contribute to the generation of knowledge in this subject.
For her part, Dr. Daiane Trevisan, from CETIM, presented the H2020 NICE project, led from the center. It is a European project of great impact that, through a network of 13 country partners, will implement 11 pilots of nature-based solutions, for the improvement of the sustainability of the integral urban water cycle, while increasing the availability of water for reuse. These pilots, located in different European countries, Egypt and Colombia, will also demonstrate additional benefits related to the renaturation of cities and the reduction of CO2 emissions.