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First application and market introduction of combined wastewater treatment and reuse technology for agricultural purposes

4 June, 2050

First application and market introduction of combined wastewater treatment and reuse technology for agricultural purposes


Waste water source

The effluent coming from the municipal wastewater treatment plant of Algarrobo is the source of the reclaimed water. The municipal wastewater treatment plant treats wastewater originating from the 6,284 inhabitants of Algarrobo town. The flow at the wastewater treatment plant is characterized by a high seasonal fluctuation due to the presence of tourists during the summer period. Wastewater inflow during summer is in the range of 4,000 - 6,000 m³/day, while during the rest of the year is approximately 2,000 - 4,000 m³/day. The municipal plant is managed by the AXARAGUA, a private-public partnership created by the ‘Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Axarquía’. Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Axarquia is a supra-municipal public body responsible for common management issues of municipalities within La Axarquia Region.

Distribution System

A pumping station distributes the reclaimed water from a reservoir tank placed at the MBR plant. The distribution network is made of PVC pipes. The reclaimed water is further stored in 7,500 liters plastic tanks and there the nutrients contents are adapted so the final nutrition solution is distributed to PVC irrigation network.

Farming system

The reclaimed water is used to irrigate avocados, mangos and tomatoes.

Waste water treatment description

Nutrient removal : Ultrafiltration is used along a membrane bioreactor whose design is adapted to maximize the presence of nitrates while complying legal requirements.
Pesticide removal : none
Disinfection : UV disinfection and chlorination.
Suspended solids removal : Ultrafiltration and a membrane bioreactor (UF, MBR).


The wastewater treatment plant has a capacity of 150 m³/day.

Extent of the agricultural beneficiaries

The experimental test site is less than one hectare. There is a strong involvement of the local community of irrigators, in particular the ‘Community of Irrigators’ of Algarrobo which was established in 1879, has a total irrigated area of 757 ha and includes 547 farmers.


No clear data provided about the cost of the reclamation process. Funding was done by Horizon 2020 - Fast track to innovation.

Type of agreement

Formal cooperation agreement with city council, regional authorities and farmers in the region of La Axarquia.

Scientific results

The successful FP7 Treat&Use project is the base for the RichWater approach. The system has then been successfully applied in the test field in Southern Spain where various positive impacts (e.g. no additional fertilizer nor freshwater) could commonly be observed.

Main results of the Treat & Use project:

  • Results of crop production and yield are equivalent using treated waste water and clear water
  • Use of alternative water source for irrigation permits to safe valuable water resources (e.g. aquifers)
  • Low values of pathogens in water and fruit proof that TREAT&USE is a safe technology for waste water reuse in agriculture
  • The prototype can be up-scaled to higher production rates, including food industry uses
  • It’s technically possible to use waste water directly from the sewer and provide it with the appropriate quality required by legislation
  • The use of waste water reduces the needs of additional fertilizer (and for the tomato crops tested in TREAT&USE, there is no need of additional fertilizer at all)
  • Low Operation and Maintenance and high automated control system allow an easy operation of the end user with relatively low annual costs



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Type of initiative
Research initiative, Demonstration initiative
Waste water source
Waste water treatment
Nutrient removal, Desinfection, Suspended solids removal
Farming system
Permanent crops
Application use
Irrigation of food crops to be eaten raw
Irrigation method
Drip irrigation
Implementation stage
Initial implementation