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Wastewater Treatment and Reuse for Sustainable Water Resources Management

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2024) | Viewed by 30877

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Spanish Research Council, Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC), Soil and Water Conservation Group, 30100 Murcia, Spain
2. University Institute of Water and Environmental Sciences, University of Alicante, S03690 Alicante, Spain
Interests: hydrological modelling; wastewater; desalination; global change; agriculture water demands; soil erosion

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Guest Editor
Centro de Investigación e Innovación Agroalimentaria y Agroambiental (CIAGRO), Miguel Hernandez University, 03312 Orihuela, Alicante, Spain
Interests: agricultural economic; valorisation; wastewater; sociology; water resources; agricultural policy

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Guest Editor
Department of Applied Economic Analysis, University of Alicante, 03690 Alicante, Spain
Interests: desalination; water transfers; wastewater treatment; water economics; water scarcity; water pricing; desalination companies; water governance; water policy; water sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Research Group in Plant Production and Technology, Plant Sciences and Microbiology Department, Miguel Hernández University (UMH), 03312 Orihuela, Spain
Interests: production techniques; food crops; sustainable development; environmental management; waste management; water management; wastewater
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Currently, in the global context of water management, where agricultural, urban, and industrial water demands are continuously increasing, mainly due to population growth, socio-economic development, and changing consumption patterns, the reclamation of treated wastewaters should be considered a new source of unconventional resources, whose management must be included in the comprehensive planning of water resources, taking into account economic, social, and environmental issues. In particular, global water demand is expected to continue increasing, with a rate of about 1% per year until 2050, accounting for an enlargement of 20–30% above the current level of water use. Thus, water reuse can extend the usage of water, increasing the availability of water resources. Consequently, reclaimed water can be used in traditional processes that do not require high-quality water, releasing volumes of better-quality water for other and more demanding uses. In many countries, environmental limitations, together with several and prolonged droughts (as a result of climate change effects), have led populations to consider the use of treated waters as an additional water source for uses without drinking water quality requirements. However, over 2 billion people now live in countries with high water stress, and about 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.

This Special Issue is looking for original research exploring global driving forces and human activities determining the sustainability of wastewater treatment and reuse, including but not limited to:

  • Studies of wastewater reuse and treatment (encompassing water quality and quantity).
  • Environmental analyses assessing the sustainability of this unconventional resource and its relation with linked areas of research such as surface hydrology, groundwater, ecology, global change, etc.
  • Agricultural studies evaluating, for instance, irrigation with purified wastewater, water resources management and similar issues.
  • Economic, sociological and political works studying the benefits and harms of wastewater treatment and reuse at many scales (global, European, national, local, etc.).

We welcome the submission of innovative papers describing case studies of one or more of the above scientific fields, applying exploration and modelling techniques, describing a specific computational tool and/or comparing several of the existing ones, and introducing new algorithms and software platforms. We also welcome disruptive proposals presented from a holistic perspective that make a significant advancement in the above scientific fields, as well as reviews describing the state-of-the-art in these fields and scopes.

Dr. Antonio Jódar Abellán
Prof. Dr. Maria De Los Desamparados Melian Navarro
Prof. Dr. Francisco De Borja Montaño Sanz
Prof. Dr. Pablo Melgarejo Moreno
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short 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 thoroughly refereed through a single-blind 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 semimonthly 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 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

 

Keywords

  • wastewater reuse and treatment
  • water resources management
  • water and environment
  • water and agriculture
  • hydrology
  • global change
  • economy
  • sociology

Published Papers (7 papers)

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16 pages, 1509 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of Phytoremediation Potential of an Aquatic Macrophyte (Eichhornia crassipes) in Wastewater Treatment
by Shahbaz Rasool, Iftikhar Ahmad, Aftab Jamal, Muhammad Farhan Saeed, Ali Zakir, Ghulam Abbas, Mahmoud F. Seleiman and Andrés Caballero-Calvo
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11533; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511533 - 26 Jul 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1505
Abstract
Wastewater generation is a major concern, as most of it goes untreated. Industries, urban areas, and agriculture are the major contributors to wastewater. Phytoremediation is an effective method of wastewater treatment. However, the potential of local aquatic species for hyper-accumulation of heavy metals [...] Read more.
Wastewater generation is a major concern, as most of it goes untreated. Industries, urban areas, and agriculture are the major contributors to wastewater. Phytoremediation is an effective method of wastewater treatment. However, the potential of local aquatic species for hyper-accumulation of heavy metals remains elusive. This study focuses on evaluating the native macrophyte Eichhornia crassipes for phytoremediation potential in different source-based water environments: freshwater (FW), industrial (IW), and urban wastewater (UW). Physico-chemical analysis was conducted on water samples (five samples from each source) along with the corresponding E. crassipes plants for assessing physiological, nutritional, and heavy metal parameters. The results showed distinct characteristics among the water sources. The FW had a high pH, and the IW exhibited elevated levels of electrical conductivity (EC: 1746 μS cm−1), total dissolved solids (TDS: 864 mg L−1), chloride (Cl: 557.83 mg L−1), sulfate (SO4: 137.27 mg L−1), and calcium (Ca++: 77.83 mg L−1) ions. The UW exhibited high bicarbonate (HCO3: 123.38 mg L−1), sodium (Na+: 154 mg L−1), and potassium (K+: 37.12 mg L−1) ions. The Cd contamination exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) limits (0.003 mg L−1) in the FW (0.05 mg L−1 in FW-5) and UW (0.05 mg L−1 in UW-3); Cr contamination was higher than the permissible limits of the WHO, National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS), and the European Union (EU) (0.05 mg L−1) in FW, IW, and UW; arsenic (As) in IW exceeded the WHO, United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and EU limits of 10 μg L−1, and Pb in UW exceeded the WHO (0.01 mg L−1), NEQS (0.05 mg L−1), and EU (0.01 mg L−1) limits. E. crassipes displayed different traits depending on the water sources. FW-grown plants had a higher biomass and chlorophyll-b content, while UW-grown plants had higher photosynthesis rates and chlorophyll-a content. Shoots accumulated more Na+, K+, and Ca++ ions than roots. Metal translocation from roots to shoots followed specific patterns for each source: the TFs of Zn = 3.62 in FW > Cd = 2.34 in UW > Cr = 1.61 and Pb = 1.29 in IW and BCFs were found in ascending order: Zn > Ni > Cd > As > Pb in FW, Cd > Zn > Ni > Cr > Pb > As in IW, and Cd > Ni > Pb > Cr > Zn > As in UW. The bioconcentration factor was higher in the roots than in the shoots. These findings suggest that E. crassipes shows promise as a phytoremediation option for heavy metal-contaminated wastewater due to its ability to thrive in harsh wastewater conditions with a higher TF > 1 and BCF > 1. Therefore, the utilization of these macrophytes holds potential for wastewater treatment. Full article
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15 pages, 9971 KiB  
Article
The Horizontal Covered Well (Draining Gallery) Technique as a Model for Sustainable Water Use
by Encarnación Gil-Meseguer, José María Gómez-Gil and José María Gómez-Espín
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11515; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511515 - 25 Jul 2023
Viewed by 797
Abstract
Among the techniques for capturing nearby groundwater, the covered horizontal well (draining gallery) stands out in its different types of water mine, qanat, and cimbre. The water collected by these means is used to supply people and livestock, in irrigation, in the movement [...] Read more.
Among the techniques for capturing nearby groundwater, the covered horizontal well (draining gallery) stands out in its different types of water mine, qanat, and cimbre. The water collected by these means is used to supply people and livestock, in irrigation, in the movement of hydraulic devices, etc. Because they are carried to the surface by gravity (without the need for energy) and because only the recharging of the groundwater table that takes place after the rains are captured, they serve as models for sustainable water use. The measured flow is variable depending on the rainfall and infiltration, but the quality of the water makes it its own water resources of great interest at the local level. The study area is the territory of the Southeast of Spain (more than 22,000 km2), with a rich hydraulic heritage. The research is a regional analysis (diachronic and compared) of several socio-hydric systems, with extensive fieldwork. Full article
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21 pages, 602 KiB  
Article
The Influence of Photovoltaic Self-Consumption on Water Treatment Energy Costs: The Case of the Region of Valencia
by Marcos García-López, Borja Montano and Joaquín Melgarejo
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11508; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511508 - 25 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 740
Abstract
Energy consumption is one of the principal components of the operative costs incurred by providers of water services, both financial and environmental. Fortunately, in recent years solar panel technology has improved substantially, and photovoltaic self-consumption has become a tool that can reduce the [...] Read more.
Energy consumption is one of the principal components of the operative costs incurred by providers of water services, both financial and environmental. Fortunately, in recent years solar panel technology has improved substantially, and photovoltaic self-consumption has become a tool that can reduce the costs of water reuse and other water services. Regions with a scarcity of water resources make a considerable use of non-conventional sources, consuming a significant amount of energy, which has a high financial and environmental cost and compromises the sustainability of the water supply. This research analyses the possibility of replacing part of this energy with self-consumption through photovoltaic panels based on data obtained for the Region of Valencia in order to analyse the impact of energy substitution on energy costs. Performing a Cost–Benefit Analysis, self-consumption projects require an electricity market price of between 0.14 and 0.18 EUR/kWh, so in financial terms it is not a particularly attractive alternative. However, the avoided greenhouse gas emissions have a high value, and including them in the calculations, the price needed to be in feasible amounts of 0.04–0.10 EUR/kWh for a small installation and 0.02–0.08 EUR/kWh for a large one. In other words, photovoltaic self-consumption is still today an alternative with financial difficulties, but the associated environmental benefit justifies public intervention as it is a beneficial energy alternative in a context of high greenhouse gas emissions. Full article
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24 pages, 5176 KiB  
Article
A Study of the Relevant Parameters for Converting Water Supply to Small Towns in the Province of Alicante to Systems Powered by Photovoltaic Solar Panels
by Héctor Fernández Rodríguez and Miguel Ángel Pardo
Sustainability 2023, 15(12), 9324; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15129324 - 09 Jun 2023
Viewed by 1128
Abstract
Solar energy is presented as the main alternative to conventional energy sources that often rely on burning fossil fuels. However, one major obstacle to its wider adoption is the limited ability to store the energy produced that can only be generated for a [...] Read more.
Solar energy is presented as the main alternative to conventional energy sources that often rely on burning fossil fuels. However, one major obstacle to its wider adoption is the limited ability to store the energy produced that can only be generated for a few hours daily. One way to overcome this limitation is using photovoltaic energy to power urban water supply pumps. This allows the energy to be stored as potential energy in regulating reservoirs while also taking advantage of the temporal coincidence between the generation of solar energy and the daily and annual water and energy supply consumption. Given that implementing solar energy in pumping devices involves an enormous investment, the optimal payback period is identified as the key indicator to know which population is one in which this action is more advisable. This work aims to find the key factors influencing the payback period of solar photovoltaic installation in urban water supply networks. To accomplish this goal, this study analyzes all 20 municipalities in the province of Alicante (which consume groundwater) where these systems can be implemented. Furthermore, this study facilitates the identification of variables that influence the decision to install a solar photovoltaic system in an urban water supply. By measuring two or three parameters, it becomes possible to easily determine the economic viability of such an investment in towns supplied with groundwater. Furthermore, these results can be extrapolated to other municipalities with similar features (irradiance, inhabitants, etc.). This study also presents a straightforward formula that supply managers can utilize to calculate the payback period of the installation using readily available data. The main factors that affect the recovery period of a photovoltaic solar installation are the difference in monthly supply consumption between winter and summer months and the average water depth. Full article
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30 pages, 13786 KiB  
Article
Integrated Management to Address Structural Shortage: The Case of Vega Baja of the Segura River, Alicante (Southeast Spain)
by José Alberto Redondo-Orts, María Inmaculada López-Ortiz and Patricia Fernández-Aracil
Sustainability 2023, 15(9), 7313; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15097313 - 27 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1037
Abstract
The principal objective of this study is the detailed analysis of the water deficit based on the information gathered by hydrological planning in terms of both the supply of water resources from different sources (surface and groundwater natural sources, transferred from other basins [...] Read more.
The principal objective of this study is the detailed analysis of the water deficit based on the information gathered by hydrological planning in terms of both the supply of water resources from different sources (surface and groundwater natural sources, transferred from other basins and non-conventional sources based on the reuse of regenerated waters and the desalination of seawater) and the demand for water (urban, agricultural, environmental, industrial, and recreational uses). To do this, the balance between resources and demand is determined, identifying the water deficit and its repercussions, mainly in the agricultural sector. Subsequently, a series of recommendations are proposed that can contribute to the management of water resources in accordance with their origin and availability. The study focuses on the district of Vega Baja del Río Segura, which is located in Southeast Spain, specifically in the Segura River Basin of the province Alicante, and characterized by being one of the European spaces with the greatest structural shortage of water resources. The 27 municipalities, which it constitutes and are the object of analysis in this study, have a semi-arid climate with mild temperatures and scarce torrential rainfall, which generates a continuous situation of water stress and structural shortage. The management of water resources in this area is vitally important for socio-economic development and the maintenance of the natural ecosystems. According to the climate change predictions, this deficit situation is set to worsen, which will aggravate the water imbalance. Full article
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21 pages, 1524 KiB  
Article
The Potential of Wastewater Reuse and the Role of Economic Valuation in the Pursuit of Sustainability: The Case of the Canal de Isabel II
by Alberto del Villar and Marcos García-López
Sustainability 2023, 15(1), 843; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15010843 - 03 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1847
Abstract
Wastewater reuse is an activity that reduces pollution from discharges while increasing the available water resources. However, the high financial costs of this activity affect the viability of projects, either because of low water productivity or because of the presence of a cheaper [...] Read more.
Wastewater reuse is an activity that reduces pollution from discharges while increasing the available water resources. However, the high financial costs of this activity affect the viability of projects, either because of low water productivity or because of the presence of a cheaper alternative, such as natural water sources. The existence of environmental or social benefits makes reuse a positive option for society for its environmental and social benefits. This leaves the public sector to decide whether the benefit obtained justifies its participation in the development of reuse programs, for which it is necessary to use a tool such as cost-benefit analysis, which combines diverse costs and benefits. This article studies the potential for water reuse in Spain and the importance of informed decision-making, based on information regarding water stress, wastewater reuse, and the case study of the Canal de Isabel II (Madrid). The results confirm the potential of wastewater reuse; agriculture has a water productivity below EUR 1 per cubic meter and industry and services need their own sources of water, but financial constraints prevent the greater use of reclaimed water in all economic sectors and public intervention is necessary to obtain the optimum scenario for society. The case study from Madrid that we have analyzed in this paper shows the importance of considering all factors, since the results of prioritizing the financial criterion would have been detrimental to society, in the form of EUR 200 million in environmental damage, while EUR 740 million of non-financial benefits would make wastewater reuse an advantageous alternative for society, thus justifying the public investment. Full article
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31 pages, 1756 KiB  
Systematic Review
Wastewater Treatment and Reuse for Sustainable Water Resources Management: A Systematic Literature Review
by Jorge Alejandro Silva
Sustainability 2023, 15(14), 10940; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151410940 - 12 Jul 2023
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 22278
Abstract
Wastewater treatment involves the extraction of pollutants, removal of coarse particles, and elimination of toxicants. Moreover, wastewater treatment kills pathogens and produces bio-methane and fresh manure for agricultural production. The connection between waste management and sustainability created the basis for this research. Wastewater [...] Read more.
Wastewater treatment involves the extraction of pollutants, removal of coarse particles, and elimination of toxicants. Moreover, wastewater treatment kills pathogens and produces bio-methane and fresh manure for agricultural production. The connection between waste management and sustainability created the basis for this research. Wastewater treatment is part of the efforts to minimize water waste, minimize pressure on natural sources of water, and create a pathway for clean energy. A systematic literature review was selected for this study to evaluate and synthesize the available evidence in support of wastewater treatment for both economic and environmental sustainability. The articles were evaluated using the PRISMA framework to identify the most appropriate articles for inclusion. A total of 46 articles were selected based on their content validity, relevance to the research question, strength of evidence, year of publication (2000–2023), and relevance to sustainable resource management. The findings indicate that wastewater treatment enables sustainable resource management by improving the supply of clean water, and minimizing pressure on natural resources, energy recovery, and agricultural support. Wastewater treatment provides one of the most sustainable approaches to water conservation, energy production, and agricultural productivity. Full article
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