Wednesday September 25th, 2019 ARCO LAB

Waster water treatment for agricultural purposes: a European project born in Prato

Trattamento delle acque reflue per usi agricoli iter revisione normativa europea Partnership per la Urba Agenda of the Eu on Circolar Economy

The Municipality of Prato, with the scientific and technical support of ARCO Researchers, participated to the European Union Partnership of the Urban Agenda for Circular Economy  focusing on two major themes:

Urban regeneration through the reuse of abandoned or underused buildings

In recent years, cities have played an essential role in the development of the Circular Economy. They are the ideal place to study and implement action plans capable of influencing the decisions of both companies and citizens towards a more sustainable production system both from a human and environmental point of view.
To facilitate this change of perspective, in 2016 the European Union initiated the Urban Agenda with a new method of multilevel work involving European cities, Member States, the European Commission and other stakeholders to promote liveability, growth and innovation in Europe.

All 15 Urban Agenda aims to identify the legislative problems related to the issues of interest (better legislation), improve awareness and knowledge of the same topics (better knowledge) and finally find solutions to remove the obstacles to finding financing (better funding).

The work of the Municipality of Prato, together with the ARCO Researchers within the Partnership of the Urban Agenda on the Circular Economy, lasted two years.

The following timeline highlights the major steps of the path to the approvement of the new European law on waster water treatment and reuse fo agricultural purposes :

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June 2017 Helsinki

Kick-off meeting of the Partnership of the EU Urban Agenda on Circular Economy.
The Municipality of Prato, in the person of Valerio Barberis Deputy Mayor with Circular Economy, and ARCO, in the person of Leonardo Borsacchi, propose to the Partners to study the question of the use of water as a second raw material in Circular Economy

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September 2017 The Hague

Partnership Meeting at The Hague during which the Municipality of Prato and ARCO present G.I.D.A – Water Purification Systems Management of Prato together with Donatella Fibbi, quality manager of G.I.D.A. and Alessandro Brogi, President of G.I.D.A.

G.I.D.A. is a unique example of a circular economy in terms of water recovery. The urban and industrial water treatment and recovery plants use a biological system to purify the water from urban and industrial plants and subsequently to introduce it into the river or into the industrial supply network as a second raw material.
The Municipality of Prato, ARCO and the partners of G.I.D.A. therefore propose to study similar water treatment plants to let water become the main resources of European circular economy.

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October 2017 Prato

Meeting of the Partnership in Prato, Councilor Valerio Barberis and Leonardo Borsacchi, ARCO Researcher, propose to study the possibility of treating wastewater deriving from urban and industrial use for agricultural purposes.

The treatment of waste water thus becomes in effect a circular economy project as it allows to face the growing problem of water scarcity, sustainability of production chains and at the same time also allows to generate a positive impact on the local community. The G.I.D.A. and the whole industrial district of Prato is flanked by a very agricultural area composed of social gardens and peri-urban fields of agriculture deriving from projects for the recovery of unused lands aimed at favoring agricultural production with a short supply chain.

October 2017 Prato

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The Partnership is invited first to visit the Textile Museum of the City of Prato and to participate in an “Action Water Re-Use” workshop at the G.I.D.A. detailed explanation of the Action Plan.
In this context, however, the first legislative bottleneck emerges as it turns out that the current rule prevents the use of treated water for agricultural purposes.

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November 2017 Rotterdam

During the meeting in Rotterdam, the Partnership confirms the legislative bottleneck: European law does not allow the direct use of the waste water treated for agricultural use, therefore a regulatory review and a more detailed study of the composition of the water.

In parallel with the work of the Partnership on the treatment of waster water and their use for agricultural purposes, a direct interest emerges from the European Commission which had also been working to identify new ways of countering the growing problems of water scarsity in European countries, especially in its southern regions.

January 2018 Bruxelles

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Meeting with the Directorate General of the European Commission for Climate (DG Climate) of Valerio Barberis, Representative of Prato Municipality with a delegation to Circular Economy, Leonardo Borsacchi, ARCO Researcher and Alessandro Brogi, President of GIDA, meet the European Union’s Directorate General for Climate in Brussels who is working on new legislative solutions to reduce water scarcity.

On the same occasion, a meeting is held with EurEau, the European network of providers of drinking water and wastewater services, both in the public sector and in the private sector. EurEau brings together national water professionals to agree on the positions of European industry in water quality management, resource efficiency and access to water for Europe’s citizens and businesses.

March 2018 - Prato

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Meeting at the G.I.D.A. together with Simona Bonafè, Member of the European Parliament responsible for the law on the Circular Economy, on the subject of the reuse of treated wastewater for agricultural uses.

March 2018 Prato

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Circular Economy: Prato’s role in the European Partnership on “Circular Economy in the context of the Urban Agenda for the EU

Workshop held by Leonardo Borsacchi, ARCO Researcher, on the work ob that the Municipality of Prato, ARCO and G.I.D.A. are carrying out within the Partnership for the promotion of the legislative revision on the subject of the reuse of treated waste water for agricultural purposes.

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September 2018 Athens

Final meeting in Athens, the Partnership discuss the technical applicability of the Action Plan on the use of waste water and consequently collect ideas for the first draft of the Position Paper.

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November 2018 Tampere

Invitation to the annual EuroCities Forum in Tampere entitled “Low-emission cities for cleaner air and climate mitigation” and involvement in the special Working Group dedicated to water.

The forum aimed to better understand the links between air pollution, climate change and public health, exploring different scenarios for the design of integrated policies capable of offering mutual benefits. Focusing on examples from the energy, construction and transport sectors, participants discussed opportunities to fulfill the Paris Agreement, while creating immediate local benefits for people and health.

In the special Working Group dedicated to water, Leonardo Borsacchi was invited to talk about the Action Plan and the work done with the Partnership, on the treatment of wastewater for agricultural uses.

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Juanuary 2019 Bruxelles

Presentation to European stakeholders interested in the subject of water reuse in Brussels. On this same occasion, the works of the Partnership and of what has been done during the Tampere Forum are explained.

New Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Minimum Requirements for Water Reuse – Position Paper by the Eu Urban Agenda Partnership on Circular Economy.

Publication of the Position Paper with the proposed legislative revision of the European standard on the use of waste water from industrial and urban plants for agricultural uses

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January 2019 Bruxelles

The European Parliament votes and approves the revision of the norm concerning the treatment of urban or industrial waste water proposed by the European Deputy Simona Bonafè, member of the European Commission for environment, public health and food safety, with the collaboration of the Postion Paper realized by participants in the Urban Agenda for Circular Economy Partnership.

The amendments and the outcome of the vote can be check out here.

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