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

The ecoSTP2023 Congress will highlight waste water in times of climate change and drought

Tuesday, 20 June 2023

The University of Girona (UdG) and the Catalan Water Research Institute (ICRA-CERCA) are organizing the sixth edition of the EcoSTP International Congress on sustainable technologies for the ecological treatment of waste water. The event will take place between June 26 and 29 at the Faculty of Arts of the UdG and the Palau de Congressos de Girona and will bring together more than 500 experts from all over the world. The program includes presentations, courses, workshops and technical visits to present and discuss the latest developments for the treatment, reuse and recovery of urban and industrial wastewater resources from a multidisciplinary perspective.

In Catalonia, the drought is highlighting the importance of regenerated water, that is, purified water that receives additional treatment and that can be reused for industrial, municipal, agricultural and environmental uses, as well as for irrigation golf courses and the recharge of aquifers. However, it is often unknown that the regeneration technology is already available and that the scientific community has been working for a long time to turn sewage treatment plants into true bio-refineries capable of recovering energy to heat and produce electricity, nutrients to make fertilizers, and other resources of added value for the industry.

The Costa Brava Girona Water Consortium, made up of the Provincial Council of Girona and 47 municipalities on the coast and the pre-coastal Girona and main sponsor of the event, was precisely one of the pioneering institutions in the Spanish State as a whole, in at the end of the eighties, when developing water regeneration and reuse projects.

In this context, the ecoSTP2023 International Congress will present innovative developments in technologies that make the purification process more sustainable, less expensive and more efficient, and will also consider the socio-economic aspects that influence its final implementation. It will be a Congress with a multidisciplinary and multisectoral vision, with four days of presentations, workshops, courses, technical visits and round tables that will revolve around topics as diverse as the recovery of nutrients, digitization, the social perception of reuse, or sewage treatment plants as elements of a pandemic surveillance system. In addition, the congress has the participation of the companies and institutions of the innovative water ecosystem, and aims to involve society.

A Congress that breaks records

The first congress on sustainable technologies for the treatment of waste water took place in 2012 in Santiago de Compostela. Since then, scientific interest in researching and developing more sustainable water purification processes has not stopped growing, which has been reflected in the growing number of people who have attended the editions after the Congress in Verona (Italy), Cambridge (United Kingdom), London (Canada) and, virtually in the middle of the pandemic, in Milan (Italy). Even so, the figure of 400 congressmen had never been reached. The current edition in Girona, with more than 500 participants from 45 different countries, beats all records and expectations.

The Minister for Research and Universities, Joaquim Nadal, will inaugurate ecoSTP2023 in an institutional event that will take place on Monday, June 26, at six in the afternoon, at the Palau de Congressos in Girona. The program includes more than 170 oral presentations and 220 poster type presentations, with speakers coming mostly from the academic field but also from industry and public administration. The plenary sessions will feature renowned international specialists such as Zhiguo Yuan (University of Hong Kong, China), Eva Martínez (Isle Utilities, Great Britain), Gustaf Olsson (University of Lund, Sweden) and Krishna Pagilla (University of Nevada, United States ).

Professor of chemical engineering, researcher of the LEQUIA research group and director of the UdG’s Environment Institute, Ignasi Rodríguez-Roda, and head of the Technologies and Evaluation Area (TiA) of the Catalan Institute of Water Research (ICRA-CERCA), Maite Pijuan, promote the initiative. Both represent two research groups and two institutions with a long history dedicated to the water sector. This strategic alliance strengthens Girona as a research hub in the field of water, and it would not be possible without the existence of a consolidated business fabric in the territory and without the commitment of the institutions. Thus, the Catalan Water Cluster (CWP), one of the most important business associations in the water sector, based in the city of Girona, and entities such as the Costa Brava Girona Water Consortium, have become pioneers and references in the development of highly innovative projects in the field of water.

A Congress that looks towards society

In addition to being a scientific congress, the initiative will also approach the environment and society. The organizing committee has scheduled a series of activities to bring the theme of the Congress to various groups in the Girona counties. On June 27, researchers from the UdG and ICRA-CERCA will give a seminar for secondary school teachers and technicians in the water sector, in the same Palau de Congressos. Participants will also be able to attend a poster presentation session and interact with the speakers.

On the same day, technicians from Associació La Sorellona will offer a walking tour of the city’s renaturation actions that will be carried out as part of the GiroNat project to achieve a greener and healthier Girona. The route will be open to all citizens and will show restoration projects in the River Ter, the renaturalization of ponds and school yards or the promotion of biodiversity. Finally, the UdG will divulge research works of the UdG and ICRA-CERCA presented at the Congress as part of the PreBat Campus and the Young Research Campus, two programs aimed at second-year high school and fourth-year ESO students.

International and local institutions and companies contribute as sponsors of the ecoSTP2023 International Congress. The Costa Brava Girona Water Consortium is the Platinum sponsor. Gold sponsors include s::cann, Badger Meter, Isle Utilities, Aqualia, Consorci Besòs Tordera, Fundació Rivus and Hach. Finally, the Silver sponsors are TELWESA, Aeris Tecnologías Ambientales, Catalan Water Partnership (CWP), GS Inima, Royal Society of Chemistry, Createch and the Social Council of the UdG. In addition, the Congress has the collaboration of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Girona City Council and the Fundació Auditori Palau de Congressos de Girona.