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Agricultural water reclamation of sugar refinery process water

4 June, 2050

AquaRo II

Waste water source

The sugar refinery in Uelzen produces about 600,000 m³/year of process water, mainly in the period from September to January. This process water  can be used for irrigation purposes. Sugar beets consist of about 75 % water. A large fraction of this water is used as process water, a small fraction goes as vapour to the atmosphere. The process water has a COD of about 200 mg  O2/L.

Distribution System

A 7,5 km pressure pipe was installed for the charging of the storage reservoir. From the storage basin to the tapping points, the water is distributed via 17 km pressure pipes.

Farming system

The farmers using the water mostly cultivate grain, energy crops, sugar beets and rape seed. All the farmers practice rotational farming. Regarding the irrigation practice the arable land is irrigated via hose drum and sprinklers.

Waste water treatment description

Nutrient removal : none
Pesticide removal : none
Desinfection : none
Suspended solids removal : sedimentation


The process water coming from the sugar refinery is stored in an open reservoir with a volume of  400,000 m³. The stored process water stabilizes from February to April. After which it is analyzed and is finally authorized for irrigation. A pump with a capacity of 1,500 m³/h is responsible for charging the storage reservoir.

Extent of the agricultural beneficiaries

The area provided with reclaimed water is about 2,500 ha.


The farmers that use the irrigation network pay for each m³ irrigation water (0.20 €/m³). The costs for charging the storage reservoir are paid by the sugar refinery. The implementation costs for building storage reservoir and distribution systems were 5.2 million euros. The capital costs are 60 €/ha per year.

Type of agreement

The farmers of the initiative receive 30 mm/ha reclaimed water and skip in return the groundwater extraction of 10 mm/ha which is now available for non-initiative farmers.

Scientific results

Additional information




Type of initiative
Waste water source
Food processing Industry
Waste water treatment
Suspended solids removal
Farming system
Arable land
Application use
Irrigation of processed food crops, Irrigation of non-food crops
Irrigation method
Sprinkler irrigation
Implementation stage