Catalan Water Research Institute research and innovation for the sustainable use of water

Girona will become the European ‘hub’ for water research with the EcoSTP international congress

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

The University of Girona (UdG) and the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA) will organize the sixth edition of the International Congress on Ecotechnologies for Wastewater Treatment (EcoSTP) . The event will take place between 26 and 30 June 2023 and is expected to be attended by up to 400 people from all over the world, experts in this sector.

The EcoSTP in Girona will present the latest in ecotechnologies for the treatment, reuse and recovery of urban and industrial waste water resources and will position Girona as the European hub for water research . The aim is to promote public-private collaboration and entrepreneurship, and bring the technologies presented at the EcoSTP closer to the market. Thus, for the first time, a session aimed at new technology-based companies will be included.

The congress will take into account the socio-economic aspects associated with the sector and its commercialization potential. With a multidisciplinary and multisectoral vision, over the course of five days, the presentations, workshops, courses and round tables will revolve around topics as diverse as nutrient recovery, digitization, the social perception of reuse, or waste water and pandemics.

Girona, a benchmark in research into waste water treatment

The promoters of this initiative are the professor of chemical engineering at the UdG and member of the LEQUIA research group, Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda , and the head of the Technologies and Evaluation Area (TiA) of the Catalan Research Institute of Water (ICRA), Maite Pijuan . Both represent groups and institutions with a long history of research in wastewater treatment. This strategic alliance strengthens Girona as the venue for the next edition of the EcoSTP congress. According to an article recently published in Chemosphere magazine, the UdG and the ICRA are among the ten research institutions with the most scientific publications in wastewater treatment in Europe.

The congress will be supported by Campus de l’Aigua, a platform of the UdG to facilitate the relationship between companies and institutions in the sector and the university. However, “the relevance of the water sector in Girona’s counties is not limited to the strictly academic field”, explains Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda . The Catalan Water Cluster (CWP) is one of the most important business associations in the sector and is also based in the city of Girona. In addition, entities such as the Costa Brava Consortium, Trargisa or Aigües de Girona, Salt and Sarrià de Ter have carried out pioneering and highly innovative projects

The organizers thus justify the congress taking place in the city of Girona and, in general, in Catalonia, where the map of the sector is very important: “In addition to the existence of the Catalan Water Agency (ACA) , in our territory we also find important companies in the water sector and research groups in other universities and technological centers”, he explains Maite Pijuan .

Back to attendance

The last edition of the congress took place this June. Organized by the Polytechnic University of Milan, it has brought together more than 300 people in a virtual format due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So far, the congress has also been held in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Verona, Cambridge (United Kingdom), and London (Canada). The UdG and the ICRA are now taking over and trust that “the expected return to face-to-face attendance will be a good stimulus to far exceed this figure and for Girona to become the world capital in the field of waste water during five days”.

The challenges of water

Throughout the 20th century, the water sector has had to face all kinds of challenges, and the situation becomes more complex in the midst of a climate emergency: strict environmental legislation, episodes of drought and floods, growth in demand, etc. . “The answer is to develop innovative, sustainable and intelligent technological solutions through research and innovation,” says Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda . However, according to Maite Pijuan , “it is not always easy for the results of R+D+I to reach the market and it is becoming more and more evident that water, like other essential services, cannot be detached from its social context, economic and political”.

A young congress

The first edition of the International Congress on Ecotechnologies for Wastewater Treatment took place in 2012. A group of scientists from the Action COST Water 2020 European network, led by Dr. Juan Lema from the University of Santiago de Compostela, detected the need to create a scientific event to present water purification technologies that were respectful of the environment. Since that moment, scientific concern for climate change, the depletion of resources or water pollution has not stopped growing, as has attendance at subsequent editions of this congress.