PROJECTE Resilience of urban wastewater systems to emerging challenges: from fundamental understanding to improved management practices (REaCH)


Ministeri d'Economia i Competitivitat (MINECO), Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER) Código: CTM2015-66892-R (MINECO/FEDER, UE)




Instut Català de Recerca de l'Aigua (ICRA)


Lluís Corominas Tabares



123.420,00 €

Urban wastewater systems (UWS) have the functions of collecting, transport (sewer systems), store (storm water tanks) and treat (wastewater treatment plants, WWTP) the urban wastewater and the stormwater before discharging to the receiving water bodies (river, lake, sea). UWS have been traditionally managed independently and without proper understanding the interdependencies amongst their elements, leading to suboptimal performance. The integrated management of UWS presents big challenges, but also great opportunities to decrease total management costs and environmental impacts and increase overall system performance. Within this context, the main objective of the REaCH project is to increase the knowledge about greenhouse gas emissions in sewer systems, wastewater treatment plants and rivers in order to identify best management strategies. More specifically, this project aims at monitoring N2O and CH4 emissions in the entire system (also including the emissions from rivers).

The project methodology involves experimental work in the lab under controlled conditions (using a singular pilot plant mimicking a sewer, a WWTP and a river) to assess the generation of N2O, CH4 emissions, and experimental work at full-scale to verify the finding from the lab experiments. The resilience of the pilot plant to two environmental stressors (seasonal variability and storms) will be investigated by changing the temperature and manipulating the hydraulic retention time of the system combined with simulated mix of raw wastewater with rainwater. State-of-the art models will be used to support the findings from the lab experiments. Moreover, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) will be applied to the evaluated strategies in order to identify the trade-offs between direct emissions to water, soil and atmosphere and indirect emissions from the production of energy and chemicals used in the process.

REaCH will contribute to better understanding the relationships between the UWS elements. In addition, the project will enhance the development of current UWS mathematical models and will propose solutions that facilitate the application of LCA in UWS. REaCH will also create two simple Decision Support Systems: First, a framework based on the principles of Life Cycle Assessment using a standard platform (Excel) and combined with advanced programming. Second, a web-based Guide to integrated management of UWS GHG emissions (REaCHGuide). REaCHGuide will be a user-friendly web-based tool for use by decision makers and technical personnel in the public and private sectors, to learn and get trained about GHG monitoring and mitigation. Examples include protocols for monitoring N2O and CH4 emissions, for the selection of best integrated management practices. The project will be undertaken by a research team with proven experience on the monitoring, control and optimization of the different parts of UWS and with a strong track record delivering high quality research, with state of the art infrastructure support from the host organisation.