Best available technologies and treatment trains to address current challenges in urban wastewater reuse for irrigation of crops in EU countries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScience of the Total Environment. 2020, 710, 136312. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.136312
Conventional urban wastewater treatment plants (UWTPs) are poorly effective in the removal of most contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes (ARB&ARGs). These contaminants result in some concern for the environment and human health, in particular if UWTPs effluents are reused for crop irrigation. Recently, stakeholders' interest further increased in Europe, because the European Commission is currently developing a regulation on water reuse. Likely, conventional UWTPs will require additional advanced treatment steps to meet water quality limits yet to be officially established for wastewater reuse. Even though it seems that CECs will not be included in the proposed regulation, the aim of this paper is to provide a technical contribution to this discussion as well as to support stakeholders by recommending possible advanced treatment options, in particular with regard to the removal of CECs and ARB&ARGs. Taking into account the current knowledge and the precautionary principle, any new or revised water-related Directive should address such contaminants. Hence, this review paper gathers the efforts of a group of international experts, members of the NEREUS COST Action ES1403, who for three years have been constructively discussing the efficiency of the best available technologies (BATs) for urban wastewater treatment to abate CECs and ARB&ARGs. In particular, ozonation, activated carbon adsorption, chemical disinfectants, UV radiation, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) and membrane filtration are discussed with regard to their capability to effectively remove CECs and ARB&ARGs, as well as their advantages and drawbacks. Moreover, a comparison among the above-mentioned processes is performed for CECs relevant for crop uptake. Finally, possible treatment trains including the above-discussed BATs are discussed, issuing end-use specific recommendations which will be useful to UWTPs managers to select the most suitable options to be implemented at their own facilities to successfully address wastewater reuse challenges.
Embargo until 25 March 2022