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Special Issue "Sustainability of Wastewater Treatment Processes and Management: Past, Present and Future"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2013)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Vincenzo De Feo

Dipartimento di Farmacia, Università degli Studi di Salerno, Via Giovanni Paolo II, 132, 84084 Fisciano, Salerno, Italy
Phone: +39089964113
Fax: +39 089 968738
Interests: fatty acids; phytochemistry; flavonoids; plant metabolites; sterols; phytotherapy; antibacterial; medicinal plants; essential oil; natural products
Guest Editor
Dr. Andreas N. Angelakis (Website)

1 National Foundation for Agricultural Research (N.AG.RE.F.), Institute of Iraklio, 71110 Iraklio, Greece
2 Hellenic Union of Municipal Enterprises for Water Supply and Sewerage (EDEYA), 41222 Larissa, Greece
Fax: +30 2810245873
Interests: Water resources; Environmental engineering; Wastewater treatment; Aquatic wastewater management systems; Water and wastewater management for small and decentralized systems; Water and wastewater quality; Treated wastewater renovation and reuse; and Water and wastewater technologies in ancient civilizations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The appropriate management and treatment of wastewater is fundamental because it directly and indirectly affects human development. The purpose of this Special Issue is to discuss the sustainability of wastewater treatment processes and management looking back at the past (from ancient civilizations to modern times), critically evaluating the state-of-the art and arguing on the future perspectives. The first successful effort in wastewater management was the wastewater drainage of the early cities in the East. During the Bronze Age, wastewater management was practiced in several Minoan palaces and settlements in modern day Crete. The Romans were masters in water and wastewater engineering. Passing from the old world to the modern, one of the most revolutionary inventions in the sanitary field was the water closet. The 20th Century saw the development of wastewater treatment processes (e.g., Imhoff tank, trickling filter, activate sludge process, etc.). In the future, the sustainability of wastewater treatment processes and management can be effectively pursued creating the condition for the coexistence of natural (e.g., constructed wetlands) and advanced processes (e.g., membrane biological reactor). This challenge is particularly important for developing countries. History can be of great help, learning from past mistakes and rediscovering ancient sustainable technologies.

Dr. Giovanni De Feo
Dr. Andreas N. Angelakis
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).


Keywords

  • activated sludge
  • ancient civilizations
  • constructed wetlands
  • developing countries
  • membrane biological reactor
  • sewer
  • sustainability
  • toilet
  • trickling filter
  • wastewater

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle A Point Source of a Different Color: Identifying a Gap in United States Regulatory Policy for “Green” CSO Treatment Using Constructed Wetlands
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2392-2412; doi:10.3390/su6052392
Received: 8 February 2014 / Revised: 11 April 2014 / Accepted: 16 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (772 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Up to 850 billion gallons of untreated combined sewer overflow (CSO) is discharged into waters of the United States each year. Recent changes in CSO management policy support green infrastructure (GI) technologies as “front of the pipe” approaches to discharge mitigation by [...] Read more.
Up to 850 billion gallons of untreated combined sewer overflow (CSO) is discharged into waters of the United States each year. Recent changes in CSO management policy support green infrastructure (GI) technologies as “front of the pipe” approaches to discharge mitigation by detention/reduction of urban stormwater runoff. Constructed wetlands for CSO treatment have been considered among suites of GI solutions. However, these wetlands differ fundamentally from other GI technologies in that they are “end of the pipe” treatment systems that discharge from a point source, and are therefore regulated in the U.S. under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). We use a comparative regulatory analysis to examine the U.S. policy framework for CSO treatment wetlands. We find in all cases that permitting authorities have used best professional judgment to determine effluent limits and compliance monitoring requirements, referencing technology and water quality-based standards originally developed for traditional “grey” treatment systems. A qualitative comparison with Europe shows less stringent regulatory requirements, perhaps due to institutionalized design parameters. We recommend that permitting authorities develop technical guidance documents for evaluation of “green” CSO treatment systems that account for their unique operational concerns and benefits with respect to sustainable development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability of Domestic Sewage Sludge Disposal
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2424-2434; doi:10.3390/su6052424
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 9 April 2014 / Accepted: 14 April 2014 / Published: 25 April 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (597 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Activated sludge is now one of the most widely used biological processes for the treatment of wastewaters from medium to large populations. It produces high amounts of sewage sludge that can be managed and perceived in two main ways: as a waste [...] Read more.
Activated sludge is now one of the most widely used biological processes for the treatment of wastewaters from medium to large populations. It produces high amounts of sewage sludge that can be managed and perceived in two main ways: as a waste it is discharged in landfill, as a fertilizer it is disposed in agriculture with direct application to soil or subjected to anaerobic digestion and composting. Other solutions, such as incineration or production of concrete, bricks and asphalt play a secondary role in terms of their degree of diffusion. The agronomical value of domestic sewage sludge is a proved question, which may be hidden by the presence of several pollutants such as heavy metals, organic compounds and pathogens. In this way, the sustainability of sewage sludge agricultural disposal requires a value judgment based on knowledge and evaluation of the level of pollution of both sewage sludge and soil. The article analyzed a typical Italian case study, a water management system of small communities, applying the criteria of evaluation of the last official document of European Union about sewage sludge land application, the “Working Document on Sludge (3rd draft, 2000)”. The report brought out good sewage sludge from small wastewater treatment plants and soils quality suggesting a sustainable application. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainable Wastewater Management: Is it Possible to Regulate Micropollution in the Future by Learning from the Past? A Policy Analysis
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 1992-2012; doi:10.3390/su6041992
Received: 14 December 2013 / Revised: 30 March 2014 / Accepted: 1 April 2014 / Published: 10 April 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (609 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper applies a policy analysis approach to the question of how to effectively regulate micropollution in a sustainable manner. Micropollution is a complex policy problem characterized by a huge number and diversity of chemical substances, as well as various entry paths [...] Read more.
This paper applies a policy analysis approach to the question of how to effectively regulate micropollution in a sustainable manner. Micropollution is a complex policy problem characterized by a huge number and diversity of chemical substances, as well as various entry paths into the aquatic environment. It challenges traditional water quality management by calling for new technologies in wastewater treatment and behavioral changes in industry, agriculture and civil society. In light of such challenges, the question arises as to how to regulate such a complex phenomenon to ensure water quality is maintained in the future? What can we learn from past experiences in water quality regulation? To answer these questions, policy analysis strongly focuses on the design and choice of policy instruments and the mix of such measures. In this paper, we review instruments commonly used in past water quality regulation. We evaluate their ability to respond to the characteristics of a more recent water quality problem, i.e., micropollution, in a sustainable way. This way, we develop a new framework that integrates both the problem dimension (i.e., causes and effects of a problem) as well as the sustainability dimension (e.g., long-term, cross-sectoral and multi-level) to assess which policy instruments are best suited to regulate micropollution. We thus conclude that sustainability criteria help to identify an appropriate instrument mix of end-of-pipe and source-directed measures to reduce aquatic micropollution. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Biological Kinetics in a Conventional Municipal WWTP by Means of the Oxygen Uptake Rate Method
Sustainability 2014, 6(4), 1833-1847; doi:10.3390/su6041833
Received: 17 December 2013 / Revised: 21 January 2014 / Accepted: 27 March 2014 / Published: 9 April 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (572 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pollution control of surface water bodies requires stringent checks on wastewater treatment plants performances. The satisfactory operation of biological treatment, commonly performed by means of activated sludge processes, requires a number of controlling and monitoring procedures. Suitable respirometric techniques for the determination [...] Read more.
Pollution control of surface water bodies requires stringent checks on wastewater treatment plants performances. The satisfactory operation of biological treatment, commonly performed by means of activated sludge processes, requires a number of controlling and monitoring procedures. Suitable respirometric techniques for the determination of the kinetic parameters that regulate biological processes have been implemented in order to achieve this aim. This paper describes the results of an experimental research carried out in a conventional Italian municipal wastewater treatment plant. Particularly, the research has been finalized to both evaluate the biological process for the removal of biodegradable pollutants, such as carbonaceous substrates and ammonia nitrogen, and to collect data in order to evaluate a possible plant upgrade. Heterotrophic and autotrophic biomass kinetic parameters have been examined using respirometric techniques based on oxygen uptake measurements. The research performed makes a valuable contribution toward verifying the reliability of the values proposed in the literature for some kinetic parameters, which have been commonly used for a long time. Full article
Open AccessArticle Application of On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Ireland and Perspectives on Its Sustainability
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1623-1642; doi:10.3390/su6031623
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 17 March 2014 / Published: 24 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (707 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The wastewater of one third of Ireland’s population is treated on-site using domestic treatment systems (DWWTSs) that usually consist of a septic tank and soil attenuation system. Within the past four years, the legislative framework for these systems has undergone a major [...] Read more.
The wastewater of one third of Ireland’s population is treated on-site using domestic treatment systems (DWWTSs) that usually consist of a septic tank and soil attenuation system. Within the past four years, the legislative framework for these systems has undergone a major change with a registration and inspection regime being introduced to identify legacy sites that will require remediation work, particularly in areas of the country underlain by subsoils of very low permeability. Against this background this study aims to assess the overall sustainability of existing DWWTSs as well as alternative treatment and disposal options. The results show that main CO2eq emissions are from the methane production in septic tanks. The reduced methane production in mechanically aerated secondary treatment systems was found to counterbalance the related emissions due to the additional energy requirements. In contrast, septic tank systems have the lowest construction and operational costs representing the most economically sustainable solution. Pressurised disposal systems are slightly more expensive but have the potential to reduce environmental impact on surface water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Clustered decentralised treatment solutions could be environmentally and economically sustainable but ownership, management and related financial and legal issues will need to be addressed and developed. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability of Water Reclamation: Long-Term Recharge with Reclaimed Wastewater Does Not Enhance Antibiotic Resistance in Sediment Bacteria
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1313-1327; doi:10.3390/su6031313
Received: 20 January 2014 / Revised: 4 March 2014 / Accepted: 5 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (829 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Wastewater reclamation for municipal irrigation is an increasingly attractive option for extending water supplies. However, public health concerns include the potential for development of antibiotic resistance (AR) in environmental bacteria after exposure to residual pharmaceuticals in reclaimed water. Though scientific studies have [...] Read more.
Wastewater reclamation for municipal irrigation is an increasingly attractive option for extending water supplies. However, public health concerns include the potential for development of antibiotic resistance (AR) in environmental bacteria after exposure to residual pharmaceuticals in reclaimed water. Though scientific studies have reported high levels of AR in soils irrigated with wastewater, these works often fail to address the soil resistome, or the natural occurrence of AR. This study compared AR patterns in sediment Enterococcus isolated from water storage basins containing either reclaimed water or groundwater in central Arizona. Resistance to 16 antibiotics was quantified in isolates to a depth of 30 cm. Results reveal high levels of resistance to certain antibiotics, including lincomycin, ciprofloxacin, and erythromycin, exists in sediments regardless of the water source (groundwater, reclaimed water), and higher AR was not detectable in reclaimed water sediments. Furthermore, multiple-antibiotic-resistance (MAR) was substantially reduced in isolates from reclaimed water sediments, compared to freshwater sediment isolates. Comparing the development of AR in sediment bacteria at these two sites will increase awareness of the environmental and public health impacts of using reclaimed water for irrigation of municipal areas, and illustrates the necessity for control sites in studies examining AR development in environmental microbiota. Full article
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Open AccessArticle History and Technology of Terra Preta Sanitation
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1328-1345; doi:10.3390/su6031328
Received: 12 December 2013 / Revised: 30 January 2014 / Accepted: 4 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals for significantly reducing the number of people without access to adequate sanitation, new holistic concepts are needed focusing on economically feasible closed-loop ecological sanitation systems rather than on expensive end-of-pipe technologies. An analysis of [...] Read more.
In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals for significantly reducing the number of people without access to adequate sanitation, new holistic concepts are needed focusing on economically feasible closed-loop ecological sanitation systems rather than on expensive end-of-pipe technologies. An analysis of a former civilization in the Amazon (nowadays Brazil) highlights the possibility to close the loop with a more sustainable lifestyle integrating soil fertility, food security, waste management, water protection and sanitation, renewable energy. Terra Preta do Indio is the anthropogenic black soil produced by ancient cultures through the conversion of bio-waste, fecal matter and charcoal into long-term fertile soils. These soils have maintained high amounts of organic carbon several thousand years after they were abandoned. Deriving from these concepts, Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) has been re-developed and adopted. TPS includes urine diversion, addition of a charcoal mixture and is based on lactic-acid-fermentation with subsequent vermicomposting. Lacto-fermentation is a biological anaerobic process that generates a pre-stabilization of the mixture. The main advantage of lacto-fermentation is that no gas and no odor is produced. What makes it particularly interesting for in-house systems even in urban areas. Instead, vermicomposting is an aerobic decomposition process of the pre-digested materials by the combined action of earthworms and microorganisms. It transforms the carbon and nutrients into the deep black, fertile and stable soil that can be utilized in agriculture. No water, ventilation or external energy is required. Starting from ancient Amazonian civilizations traditional knowledge, the aim of this work is to present TPS systems adopted nowadays. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Improving the Effectiveness of a Nutrient Removal System Composed of Microalgae and Daphnia by an Artificial Illumination
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1346-1358; doi:10.3390/su6031346
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 27 February 2014 / Accepted: 5 March 2014 / Published: 12 March 2014
PDF Full-text (613 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For determining the effect of illumination on nutrient removal in an artificial food web (AFW) system, we launched a pilot continuous-flow system. The system consisted of a storage basin, a phytoplankton growth chamber, and a zooplankton growth chamber. A 25,000 Lux AFW-light [...] Read more.
For determining the effect of illumination on nutrient removal in an artificial food web (AFW) system, we launched a pilot continuous-flow system. The system consisted of a storage basin, a phytoplankton growth chamber, and a zooplankton growth chamber. A 25,000 Lux AFW-light emitting diode (LED) on system and an AFW-LED off system were separately operated for 10 days. In the AFW-LED on system, the maximum chlorophyll-a concentration of the phytoplankton chamber was four times higher than that of the AFW-LED off system. With artificial nighttime illumination, the microalgae became both smaller and more nutritious; the microalgae became high quality food for the zooplankton, Daphnia magna. Consequently, this zooplankton became more efficient at extracting nutrients and grew more densely than in the AFW-LED off system condition. In the LED-on condition, the amounts of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) flowing into the system for 10 days were 84.7 g and 20.4 g, and the amounts flowing out were 19.5 g (23%) and 4.0 g (20%), respectively. In contrast, in the LED-off condition, 83.8 g and 20.6 g of TN and TP flowed into the system while 38.8 g (46%) and 6.8 g (33%) flowed out, respectively. Artificial illumination significantly improves the removal rate of nutrients in an AFW system. Full article
Open AccessArticle On-Site Sewage Systems from Good to Bad to…? Swedish Experiences with Institutional Change and Technological Dependencies 1900 to 2010
Sustainability 2013, 5(11), 4706-4727; doi:10.3390/su5114706
Received: 8 July 2013 / Revised: 24 October 2013 / Accepted: 25 October 2013 / Published: 7 November 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (323 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Even though technological advances have occurred during recent decades today’s nutrient loading from Swedish on-site sewage systems (OSSs) is much higher than in the 1940s, despite a decreased rural population and the existence of potentially far better technologies than the existing inadequate [...] Read more.
Even though technological advances have occurred during recent decades today’s nutrient loading from Swedish on-site sewage systems (OSSs) is much higher than in the 1940s, despite a decreased rural population and the existence of potentially far better technologies than the existing inadequate installations. The objective of this paper is first, to explain this situation as the result of co-evolution of technology and institutions, which has resulted in a very stable conservation. Second, to properly understand how such stable configurations may change, the paper investigates how a power-distributional theory of incremental institutional change might complement the previous analysis and open up the thinking about how seemingly stable configurations may change endogenously. The analysis reveals how shifts in the distribution of power, i.e., public and private actors’ resources and tools to use in interaction with other actors, have influenced the direction of technological and institutional development. We conclude that the sequencing of events has been important; the series of choices made foremost between the 1950s and 1990s caused both institutional and technical lock-in effects that have been increasingly difficult to break out from. Despite parallel and later incremental developments, improvement in the environmental outcome is not yet seen on the large scale. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview The Historical Development of Sewers Worldwide
Sustainability 2014, 6(6), 3936-3974; doi:10.3390/su6063936
Received: 17 February 2014 / Revised: 13 April 2014 / Accepted: 13 April 2014 / Published: 20 June 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (9017 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Although there is evidence of surface-based storm drainage systems in early Babylonian and Mesopotamian Empires in Iraq (ca. 4000–2500 BC), it is not until after ca. 3000 BC that we find evidence of the well organized and operated sewer [...] Read more.
Although there is evidence of surface-based storm drainage systems in early Babylonian and Mesopotamian Empires in Iraq (ca. 4000–2500 BC), it is not until after ca. 3000 BC that we find evidence of the well organized and operated sewer and drainage systems of the Minoans and Harappans in Crete and the Indus valley, respectively. The Minoans and Indus valley civilizations originally, and the Hellenes and Romans thereafter, are considered pioneers in developing basic sewerage and drainage technologies, with emphasis on sanitation in the urban environment. The Hellenes and Romans further developed these techniques and greatly increased the scale of these systems. Although other ancient civilizations also contributed, notably some of the Chinese dynasties, very little progress was made during the Dark ages from ca. 300 AD through to the middle of the 18th century. It was only from 1850 onwards that that modern sewerage was “reborn”, but many of the principles grasped by the ancients are still in use today. This paper traces the development of the sewer from those earliest of civilizations through to the present day and beyond. A 6000 year technological history is a powerful validation of the vital contribution of sewers to human history. Full article
Open AccessReview Wastewater Recycling in Greece: The Case of Thessaloniki
Sustainability 2014, 6(5), 2876-2892; doi:10.3390/su6052876
Received: 23 January 2014 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 4 May 2014 / Published: 13 May 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1071 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In Greece, and particularly in many southeastern and island areas, there is severe pressure on water resources, further exacerbated by the high demand of water for tourism and irrigation in summertime. The integration of treated wastewater into water resources management is of [...] Read more.
In Greece, and particularly in many southeastern and island areas, there is severe pressure on water resources, further exacerbated by the high demand of water for tourism and irrigation in summertime. The integration of treated wastewater into water resources management is of paramount importance to meet future demands. Despite this need, only a few projects of effluent reuse have been implemented, most of them being pilot projects of crop or landscape irrigation. The most important projects which are currently in practice are those of Thessaloniki, Chalkida, Malia, Livadia, Amfisa, Kalikratia, and Chersonissos. In Thessaloniki, at the most important wastewater reuse site, the secondary effluent of the city’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) (165,000 m3/day) is used for agricultural irrigation after mixing with freshwater at a 1:5 ratio. The main crops irrigated are rice, corn, alfalfa and cotton. A few other projects are under planning, such as that at Iraklion, Agios Nikolaos and several island regions. Finally, it should be mentioned that there are several cases of indirect reuse, especially in central Greece. However, the reuse potential in Greece is limited, since effluent from Athens’s WWTP, serving approximately half of the country’s population, is not economically feasible due to the location of the plant. Full article
Open AccessReview Sustainable Treatment of Aquaculture Effluents—What Can We Learn from the Past for the Future?
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 836-856; doi:10.3390/su6020836
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 24 January 2014 / Accepted: 8 February 2014 / Published: 20 February 2014
Cited by 18 | PDF Full-text (1210 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many aquaculture systems generate high amounts of wastewater containing compounds such as suspended solids, total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Today, aquaculture is imperative because fish demand is increasing. However, the load of waste is directly proportional to the fish production. Therefore, it [...] Read more.
Many aquaculture systems generate high amounts of wastewater containing compounds such as suspended solids, total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Today, aquaculture is imperative because fish demand is increasing. However, the load of waste is directly proportional to the fish production. Therefore, it is necessary to develop more intensive fish culture with efficient systems for wastewater treatment. A number of physical, chemical and biological methods used in conventional wastewater treatment have been applied in aquaculture systems. Constructed wetlands technology is becoming more and more important in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) because wetlands have proven to be well-established and a cost-effective method for treating wastewater. This review gives an overview about possibilities to avoid the pollution of water resources; it focuses initially on the use of systems combining aquaculture and plants with a historical review of aquaculture and the treatment of its effluents. It discusses the present state, taking into account the load of pollutants in wastewater such as nitrates and phosphates, and finishes with recommendations to prevent or at least reduce the pollution of water resources in the future. Full article

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