Reduction of environmental risks, posed by Emerging Contaminants, through advanced treatment of municipal and industrial wastes
In the Western Balkans, a decade of regional conflicts combined with insufficient institutional infrastructure, decaying industrial system and a legacy of years of unchecked pollution have left the environment of the region in a state of serious neglect, which is especially reflected in poor water quality and waste problems. Currently, urban wastewaters are mainly discharged untreated to the rivers and industrial wastewater receives little or no treatment. Thus, the future of indirect potable reuse requires a planned protection of surface waters through efficient treatment of wastewaters prior to their discharge and the occurrence of contaminants is a key issue in relation to the quality of water supplies. Project EMCO addresses the hot issue of so-called "emerging" or "new" contaminants (i.e. human and veterinary drugs, surfactants, textile dyes), whose emission has recently emerged as an environmental problem. It focuses on their tracing in industrial and municipal effluents and removal by advanced water treatment technologies (membrane processes: MBR, RO/UF/NF and advanced sorbents). Emphasis is given on the application of small units for on-site treatment of industrial and municipal effluents with the objective to reduce environmental and health risks through an improvement of the quality of receiving surface waters. Approach chosen is based on the stepwise adjustment of wastewater treatment technologies from laboratory scale to pilot plants installed at industrial partner sites evaluating the efficiency of the technology under real-world conditions. Additionally, EMCO aims to provide comprehensive data on the occurrence of emerging contaminants in effluents in the participating WB and EU countries and the extent to which these compounds can be removed by advanced treatment technology in order to allow their introduction on the list of relevant compounds to be monitored, and setting of new limits of emission and the development of avoidance strategies.