Water reuse for agricultural irrigation in Alicante
4 June, 2050
Rincón de León water reclamation plant
Waste water source
Municipal wastewater from the city of Alicante, with mean values of SS (17 mg/L), turbidity (4.8 NTU), COD (52 mg/L), BOD5 (13 mg/L). The The Rincón de León wastewater treatment plant and water reclamation plant belong to EPSAR (public sanitation agency of the Valencia Region) and are currently operated by AMAEM (SUEZ Group).
The Rincón de León water reclamation plant has a storage tank for reclaimed water. Each of the three reclaimed water distribution systems belongs to and is operated by the corresponding irrigation district.
There are three irrigation districts (CR) currently using reclaimed water from the Rincón de León water reclamation plant, namely CR Aralvi, CR Agricoop and occasionally CR Riegos de Levante. CR Aralvi spans over several municipalities (San Vicente del Raspeig, Mutxamel, Alcoraya, Rebolledo, Bacarot) and provides water for irrigation of a golf course. The main crops cultivated by CR Aralvi are almond trees (70 %), vineyards (8 %), nectarine trees (5 %), orange trees (2 %) and olive trees (1 %). About 15 % of the agricultural land of CR Aralvi is not currently cultivated. CR Agricoop uses reclaimed water for agricultural irrigation as well as for golf course irrigation. Drip irrigation is the prevailing current irrigation system. The main irrigated crops are: almond trees (530 ha), citrus trees (94 ha), tomatoes (450 ha) and pomegranate and olive trees (30 ha). El Plantío golf course has a surface of 80 ha. Field crops use spray irrigation, while trees are drip irrigated.
Waste water treatment description
Nutrient removal : Nutrient removal is done by the WWTP where the disinfection system with reverse osmosis is put behind.
Pesticide removal : none
Disinfection : UV light disinfection
Suspended solids removal : Coagulation, flocculation, and sand filtration
Other : The water reclamation process includes two parallel options:
1) ultrafiltration and UV light disinfection and
2) reverse osmosis filtration. Rincón de León water reclamation plant provides reclaimed water in accordance to the water quality requirements of Spanish regulations for water reuse RD 1620/2007.
The capacity of the Rincón de León wastewater treatment plant is 75,000 m³/d. The annual flow of reclaimed water has ranged from 20 % (2010) to 36 % (2014) of the treated effluent flow. Reclaimed water for agricultural use is estimated at 12 hm3 per year.
Extent of the agricultural beneficiaries
The three irrigation districts (CR) currently using reclaimed water for irrigation are: CR Aralvi, with a total agricultural area of 2,040 ha, CR Agricoop, with a total agricultural area of 1,104 ha, and CR Riegos de Levante, that only uses reclaimed water occasionally. The attached picture shows the extent of the three irrigation districts.
A cost agreement has been established between EPSAR (public sanitation agency of the Valencia Region) and the irrigation districts. The agreement specifies that water treated using ultrafiltration (UF) and UV light disinfection is provided at no cost to the irrigation districts. However, reclaimed water produced using reverse osmosis has an operational cost of 0.016 euro/m³, that irrigation districts pay directly to EPSAR. Those funds are subsequently transferred by EPSAR to AMAEM, the water reclamation plant operator, to cover the extra treatment cost involved. Finally, irrigation districts cover the costs of conveyance and distribution of reclaimed water from the reclamation plant to their irrigation fields.
Type of agreement
Reclaimed water (12 hm³/year) is provided at the outlet of the water reclamation plant at no cost for agricultural uses, except when reclaimed water is produced using reverse osmosis (see costs section). Each irrigation district covers the costs involved in pumping and distributing reclaimed water from the reclamation plant to their irrigation fields. The yearly reclaimed water allocation for each irrigation district is established by the Water Master Plan of the Jucar Basin Authority (Confederación Hidrográfica del Jucar, CHJ) and are the following: CR Aralvi, 6.7 hm³/year, and CR Agricoop 5.0 hm³/year. Approximately 33 % of those flows corresponds to reclaimed water produced using reverse osmosis.
Scientific reports & Peer reviewed papers
Casals, The future of water reuse requires long-term thinking: approval of a master plan is an essential tool for guiding the development of water reuse infrastructures. Water reuse can guarantee drinking water availability in water stressed areas. A framework of water rates and funding strategies must be carefully designed to promote sustainable water use: if the benefits for the urban water cycle are global, the costs must be equally shared. Urban water reuse has the potential to improve urban environmental conditions and the wellbeing of its citizens.
I., Flor, M., Santacreu, D. (2019). Reutilización para usos urbanos: el caso de la ciudad de Alicante. Congreso Nacional del Agua 2019.
García, A. (2018). Present and future of reuse in Spain: Alicante, a story of Succes. IWA Regional Conference on Water Reuse and Salinity Management, 11-15 June 2018, Murcia, Spain.
A research project was conducted to explore de viability of the initiative. The project is now under its full implementation stage: reclamation and agricultural irrigation. The different treatment trains at Rincón de León wastewater treatment plant allows blending of differently treated effluents, resulting in a customized water quality that satisfy the flow and quality requirements (mainly related to salinity limits) of irrigation districts. This customized production of reclaimed water is a common occurrence at the Rincón de León wastewater treatment plant and water reclamation plant.