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IWAMA project results boosting efficiency in wastewater treatment across the region

29 May, 2019 - 15:52

IWAMA is one of the projects contributing to the BSR WATER platform with knowledge, expertise and experience in smart wastewater treatment. Ended in April 2019, the project published its ready outputs both in English and translated to the languages of the Baltic Sea Region.

We invite you to read about the project results and achievements that can help improving the wastewater treatment sector.


Global and local challenges

The global demand for water and energy in the cities is expanding due to population growth, urbanisation and rising standards of living. Over the last decades the water use has been increasing at more than twice the rate of the population growth making the pressure for municipalities to efficiently treat wastewater greater than ever.

For wastewater treatment plants, inability to operate efficiently can be extremely costly. The combination of ineffective process equipment, outdated management practices and lack of structured learning programs for employees can result in higher operating costs and lower revenue, which in turn withholds organisation's development and investment potential. Therefore, wastewater treatment plant operators should regularly analyse their wastewater treatment performance and ensure systems are operating with the most efficient equipment and technology.

The tools and solutions developed within the project IWAMA – Interactive Water Management can help WWTPs achieve utmost resource efficiency and realize potential cost savings by reducing energy consumption and improving sludge handling practices. In a separate publication "Baltic Sea protection commitments", IWAMA project introduces all developed project outputs, as well as actions taken up by the project's stakeholders to protect and improve the state of the Baltic Sea.


Conducting a self-assessment with the help of benchmarking tools

Benchmarking has become a key practice in the wastewater sector. It helps operators to determine the baseline performance of their plant, detecting possible gaps and set realistic performance targets.

IWAMA developed two comparative benchmarks: in smart energy and sludge management. With more than 65 plants from 9 countries contributing to this output, the benchmarks provide good reference to the regional situation and technicalities of the processes applied in the Baltic Sea Region taking into account energy consumption, effluent quality parameters, treatment efficiency and overall sludge treatment situation. The results of the benchmarking are available as reports offering the opportunity to calculate respective values and compare them to others. Large deviations from the regional average indicate a demand for a detailed audit identifying the potentials for optimization in the treatment process.


Performing energy and sludge audit to ensure maximum efficiency

Audit tools for smart energy management and sludge management ensure the effectiveness of the processes applied at wastewater treatment plants and outline the potential for improvements. The tools provide an opportunity for operators to perform self-auditing at their wastewater treatment plant, and thereby enhance the energy efficiency of the treatment, improve sludge handling, and detect measures for both short and long-term improvement of the processes.

First energy and sludge management audits supporting development of the tools were performed at nine wastewater treatment plants in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany. The audits on sludge management revealed that there is a large amount of waste activated sludge produced in the Baltic Sea Region. Waste activated sludge contains variety of pollutants (heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pathogens) and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous). In order to reduce the flow of pollutants into water bodies and to promote recycling of nutrients, it is essential to support smart sludge management in the region.


Finding most efficient technology

IWAMA project piloted seven investments focusing on efficiency and optimisation of energy and sludge management. All investments are innovative in their nature and provide new solutions for sludge humification and drying, reject-water treatment, energy balance, optimized process operation and mass flow management.

Pilot investments as well as many other most recent and replicable good practices, technical solutions and tools can be found in the online portal for water experts Baltic Smart Water Hub. The Hub was developed in the framework of the IWAMA project to support knowledge sharing and ease the free access to the best available technology in the field. Through the demonstrated cases in waste-, storm-, fresh- and seawater, Hub users can find ideas for investments, solutions to similar challenges and tools to use in the daily work.


Supporting the capacity development and lifelong learning of water sector

Lifelong learning is recognized as a crucial force in the process of improving the capacity of operators of wastewater treatment plants, and it is of utmost importance to provide equal opportunities for continuous education in this field. To be as efficient as possible, advanced technology needs to be managed by skilled operators.

IWAMA project launched several lifelong learning tools supporting sustainable increase of skills and competencies of wastewater experts: WWTP game, electronic Training Materials Package with the virtual testing, and publications of lifelong learning opportunities and challenges.


Several outputs developed in IWAMA support elaboration of recommendations on nutrient recycling and handling of hazardous substances in BSR WATER.

Baltic Smart Water Hub launched in IWAMA is taken up in BSR WATER as an online platform for sharing knowledge in the smart water sector of the Baltic Sea Region.