Horizon 2020 and SWIM-SM address the burning issue of treated waste water re-use and the need for innovative and adaptable technologies

on 08 May 2012.

Given the scarcity of water resources in the Southern Mediterranean Region, one of the highest in the world, a new paradigm is required that will consider non‐conventional water resources – mainly recycling of agricultural runoff, re‐use and storage of treated wastewater, and desalination using renewable energy - as an asset to be managed as part of the country’s integrated water resources management framework. 

This integrated approach would not only increase water availability for specific purposes that is hygienically safe, ecologically sustainable and beneficial for society as a whole, but also contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation of its impacts through greenhouse gases reduction of.

In recognition of the above, a sub regional training was held in Tunis, Tunisia from 10-13 April 2012 within the framework of ENPI Horizon 2020 Capacity Building/MEP and Sustainable Integrated Water Management - Support Mechanism (SWIM-SM) projects. The course was launched by Mr. Stefano Corrado of the EU Delegation to Tunisia.

The four day training brought together practitioners, managers and decision-makers from water and wastewater authorities, environmental agencies, health departments, in addition to junior university staff in fields related to desalination and waste water treatment. The initiative brought together thirty four participants from Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.

The training introduced participants to state-of-the-art wastewater treatment and reuse schemes, including Best Available Technologies (BAT) in rural/local areas, adaptable treatment technologies and effluent standards for various reuse purposes, while highlighting the risks involved. Special emphasis was given to artificial recharge with treated wastewater technologies, and their role in wastewater reuse schemes, as well as on the state-of-the-art in desalination processes and their economic, energy and environmental impacts.

Mr. Mufid Duhaini, Head of the Wastewater Department at the Ministry of Energy of Water in Lebanon said that “This workshop answered a lot of questions on how, where and when treated wastewater can be reused especially for aquifer recharge”.

Reflecting on the positive outcome of the initiative, Ms. Rashida Lyazidi from the Ministry of Energy, Minerals and Water of Morocco stated that she gained a deeper understanding of the EU legislation with regard to wastewater treatment and reuse schemes, as well as enhanced capacity to accurately evaluate the application of Soil Aquifer Treatment for aquifer recharge. Ms. Lyazidi also recommended adding to the course additional material on reuse in sectors other than agriculture.

On the last day of the course site visits where organized to the constructed wetland for wastewater treatment in Jougar, with the support of CITET (Centre International des Technologies de l’Environnement de Tunis), to the pumping station and the irrigated perimeter with treated wastewater in Soukra,  with the support of the Département du Génie Rural et de l'Exploitation des Eaux of the Ministry of Agriculture and finally to the urban agriculture project using treated gray water and harvested rainwater of the Club UNESCO also located in Soukra.

The training was implemented by UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA) with the collaboration of the SWIM-Support Mechanism.