Decentralised water and wastewater treatment technologies to produce functional water for irrigation

Adriano Battilani, Michele Steiner, Martin Andersen, Soren Nohr Back, J. Lorenzen, Avi Schweitzer, Anders Dalsgaard, Anita Forslund, Secondo Gola, Wolfram Klopmann, Finn Plauborg, Mathias N. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The EU project SAFIR aimed to help farmers solve problems related to the use of low quality water for irrigation in a context of increasing scarcity of conventional freshwater resources. New decentralised water treatment devices (prototypes) were developed to allow a safe direct or indirect reuse of wastewater produced by small communities/industries or the use of polluted surface water. Water treatment technologies were coupled with irrigation strategies and technologies to obtain a flexible, easy to use, integrated management of the system. The challenge is to apply new strategies and technologies which allow using the lowest irrigation water quality without harming food safety or yield and fruit or derivatives quality. This study presents the results of prototype testing of a small-scale compact pressurized membrane bioreactor and of a modular field treatment system including commercial gravel filters and heavy-metal specific adsorption materials. Decentralised compact pressurised membrane biobooster (MBR), was able to remove up to 99.99% of the inlet Escherichia coli and 98.52% of total coliforms. E. coli was completely removed from irrigation water in 53% of the samples by the last MBR prototype version. In 2008, 100% of samples fulfilled WHO standards (1989) and Global Gap requirement for faecal contamination. MBR removed from inlet flow in the average 82% of arsenic, 82% of cadmium, 97% of chromium, 93% of copper and 99% of lead. Boron and manganese were not removed from permeate. The field treatment system (FT'S) proved to be effective against faecal contamination when applied with its complete set up including UV treatment. The sole gravel filter and heavy metal removal device (HMR) cannot provide sufficient and steadily treatment for microbial contamination. Nevertheless, gravel filter can remove up to 60% of E. coli but the removal process was not stable nor predictable. FTS removed 76% of arsenic, 80% of cadmium and copper, 88% of chromium and lead, and up to 97% of zinc. Like the MBR. boron and manganese were not removed from the irrigation water. Gravel filter directly fed with secondary treated wastewater was found able to remove 41% of arsenic, 36% of cadmium and lead, 48% of chromium and 46% of copper. The residual heavy metals concentration after the gravel filter was further reduced by the HMR: 35% for arsenic, 22% for cadmium, 25% for chromium, 33% for copper and 53% for lead. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)385-402
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • SOIL
  • Agricultural water reuse
  • Decentralised treatments
  • Faecal contamination
  • Heavy metals
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Agricultural water
  • Decentralised
  • E. coli
  • Field treatments
  • Food safety
  • Fresh water resources
  • Functional water
  • Gravel filters
  • Heavy metal removal
  • Integrated management
  • Irrigation water quality
  • Irrigation waters
  • Low qualities
  • Metals concentrations
  • Microbial contamination
  • New strategy
  • Pressurized membrane
  • Prototype testing
  • Prototype versions
  • Removal process
  • Reuse of wastewater
  • Specific adsorption
  • Total coliforms
  • Treated wastewater
  • UV treatment
  • Water and wastewater treatments
  • Water treatment technologies
  • Adsorption
  • Arsenic
  • Biological water treatment
  • Bioreactors
  • Boron
  • Boron compounds
  • Cadmium
  • Chemical contamination
  • Chromium
  • Contamination
  • Copper
  • Escherichia coli
  • Gravel
  • Health
  • Heavy water
  • Inlet flow
  • Irrigation
  • Lead removal (water treatment)
  • Manganese
  • Metal testing
  • Metals
  • Technology
  • Wastewater
  • Wastewater reclamation
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Water conservation
  • Water pollution
  • Water quality
  • Water resources
  • Water supply
  • Chemicals removal (water treatment)
  • adsorption
  • bioreactor
  • coliform bacterium
  • concentration (composition)
  • decentralization
  • European Union
  • fecal coliform
  • filter
  • food safety
  • irrigation system
  • pollutant removal
  • recycling
  • surface water
  • trace element
  • wastewater
  • water quality
  • water resource
  • water treatment
  • LIFE
  • Water quality and water resources
  • Water (environmental science)
  • Agriculture
  • Environmental issues
  • Industrial processes
  • Biotechnology industry
  • Production equipment
  • arsenic
  • bioreactors
  • cadmium
  • cellular biophysics
  • chromium
  • copper
  • irrigation
  • lead
  • membranes
  • microorganisms
  • prototypes
  • wastewater treatment
  • water pollution
  • wastewater treatment technologies
  • functional water production
  • decentralised water treatment technologies
  • EU project
  • low quality water
  • freshwater resources
  • surface water pollution
  • irrigation strategies
  • integrated management
  • irrigation water quality
  • food yield
  • prototype testing
  • small-scale compact pressurized membrane bioreactor
  • modular field treatment system
  • commercial gravel filters
  • heavy-metal specific adsorption materials
  • decentralised compact pressurised membrane biobooster
  • inlet Escherichia coli
  • Cd
  • Cr
  • Cu
  • Pb
  • As
  • residual heavy metal concentration
  • FTS
  • microbial contamination
  • heavy metal removal device
  • gravel filter
  • field treatment system
  • faecal contamination
  • Global Gap requirement
  • WHO standards
  • MBR prototype
  • total coliforms. E. coli
  • Biochemistry studies - Minerals
  • Food technology - General and methods
  • Physiology and biochemistry of bacteria
  • Public health - Sewage disposal and sanitary measures
  • Public health - Air, water and soil pollution
  • Horticulture - Miscellaneous and mixed crops
  • boron
  • manganese
  • Bacteria, Eubacteria, Microorganisms
  • food quality
  • wastewater reuse
  • fruit crop
  • vegetable crop
  • irrigation management system
  • SAFIR project
  • conventional freshwater resource
  • polluted surface water use
  • sewage spillage water contamination
  • faecal contamination removal


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