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€12m HYDROUSA project aims to douse Mediterranean drought

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Drought-prone Mediterranean islands could soon be awash with recovered water, thanks to a new multi-million-euro project launched in Athens.

Led by researchers at Brunel University London and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), the €12m HYDROUSA project aims to close the ‘water loop’ by demonstrating how nature-based technologies can be used to recover fresh water and nutrients from wastewater, groundwater and water vapour.

Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, the 54-month, 27-partner project will see experimental sites set up on the Greek islands of Mykonos, Lesbos and Tinos, with replication sites set up at a further 25 locations worldwide.

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“The Mediterranean’s islands and coastal areas face significant challenges in terms of water management and conservation,” said Dr Evina Katsou, a senior lecturer in Brunel’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Principal Investigator for HYDROUSA.

“Water reserves are scarce, while the high touristic activities during the summer months stress the limited water reserves, resulting in environmental problems and reduced agricultural activity.

“HYDROUSA goes beyond the current water and wastewater management practices by adopting innovative, nature-based water management solutions for different types of water, all characterised by a low energy footprint.

“Clear water loops will be demonstrated, and added value products will be recovered.”

Water Types

HYDROUSA will demonstrate a range of low-energy, innovative technologies and services, including:

  • Treating rainwater and storing it in natural underground aquifers for use in agricultural irrigation
  • Constructing biodiverse wetlands for treating wastewater, including a bioelectrified wetland for producing energy from anaerobic treatment of sewage
  • Desalinating seawater in low-cost tropical greenhouses 
  • Demonstrating an innovative compost cultivator for treating sewage sludge 
  • Marrying modern computer systems with ancient stone water channels for better flow management
  • Developing a locally relevant agroforestry system irrigated by reclaimed water from sewage.

HYDROUSA will also define how the technologies can work in the context of a circular economy, with business cases being developed for each.

Dr Simos Malamis, assistant professor at NTUA’s Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering and HYDROUSA Project Coordinator, said: “We aim to revolutionise the water supply chain by developing low-energy, nature-based solutions to manage non-conventional sources of water.

“We will build a more resilient economy with more jobs and a greener environment, and mitigate climate change by rebuilding flourishing ecosystems.”

Loops

Reported by:

Tim Pilgrim, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268965
tim.pilgrim@brunel.ac.uk