The SUWANU EUROPE & Water Europe joint workshop about the use of reclaimed water in agriculture was held last 11th December in Zaragoza. This event, organised by the SUWANU EUROPE consortium, was one of the side events of the 5th EU Water Innovation Conference 2019 (EUWIC).
“Accelerating action to tackle water pollution and enhance EU preparedness to water-related climate change impacts” was the moto of this edition. This was an initiative organized by the European Commission (EC), with the cooperation of the Government of Aragon, whose purpose is to raise awareness among all water-related agents about the need to urgently face the challenges posed by water governance in the context of climate change.
The SUWANU EUROPE workshop was introduced by Antonia Lorenzo (Biaozul) which presented the Water & Agri-food working group that she leaders it within the Water Europe Platform. She highlighted the efforts to increase interaction and exchange of knowledge between members and enhance cooperation among members in R&D&i projects and commercial & business project.
Afterwards, Rafael Casielles (Bioazul) as the general coordinator of SUWANU EUROPE explained the aim of this thematic network focused on sharing all the knowledge and experiences in the field of using reclaimed water in agriculture. He also mentioned the actions developed until now.
Some of the works carried out in the regions of SUWANU EUROPE consortium were presented such as Andalusia (Spain) introduced by Enrique Mesa (University of Cordoba) and Po river basin from Italy presented by Adriano Battalini (CER). Rémi Declercq (Ecofilae) talked about the French region of Occitanie and Carina Arranja (Fenareg) who talked about Alentejo (Portugal).
The meeting continued with the intervention of AttilioToscano,from UNIBO, who presented the FIT4REUSE project. Supported by the PRIMA programme of the European Union, this initiative focuses on innovative, sustainable and safe treatment technologies, and on the use of treated wastewater and desalinated water in agriculture and for aquifer recharge.
Other water initiative presented was the HYDROUSA project. Simos Malamis from NTUA explained the main objective of the project: provide innovative solutions for decentralized water scarce areas in terms of water/wastewater treatment and management, which will close the water loops and will also boost their agricultural and energy profile.
Pilar Zapata from Bioazul introduced Water2REturn, a circular economy initiative focused on the recovery and recycling of nutrients turning wastewater into added-value products for a circular economy in agriculture. She highlighted the technology developed for the wastewater treatment and reuse.
Finally, Elvira Domingo talked about EIT Food platform, a pan-European consortium that focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation in the food sector. She pointed that EIT Food is working to transform the food system and create a sustainable, trusted and healthier system and she also presented the 2020 water scarcity programme.
The meeting finished with a participatory session where the best strategies to promote the use of reclaimed water in agriculture were discussed. All the attendees could participate using the mentimeter app where everybody made questions to the rest of the audience to discuss.
In addition, the results of a survey of consumers and the agri-food industry on their perception of the use of reclaimed water in crops were presented. The survey showed that there is a greater rejection by the agri-food industry to make use of this type of unconventional waters due to the fear that they can cause health problems for consumers. Instead, consumers are much more optimistic and give their approval to use reclaimed water in agriculture.