In municipal waste water treatment (WWT) sector singular solutions are not enough anymore to improve the nutrient removal and meet the stringent HELCOM recommendations. Instead a comprehensive approach to all the processes is necessary, in which case two urgent challenges arise: insufficient sludge management and the need to make processes more energy efficient. Both are directly linked to better nutrient removal results and can be addressed through capacity development activities and small-scale investments.
The capacity development activities of IWAMA facilitated the uptake of the most recent knowledge on smart sludge and energy management in the region as well as the use of lessons learned from the pilot investments. In the course of the project the partners participated in the onsite workshops, online webinars and formed national knowledge based communities of the lifelong learning in each partner country. The communities as well as other stakeholders of the water sector got representation on the international arena through the Baltic Smart Water Hub launched under one of the policy areas of the UBC network. The Hub utilizes training materials and other tools developed during the course of the project, providing an opportunity to adapt new information and enable continuous knowledge exchange with other water experts in the BSR.
The smart energy and sludge management concepts were developed and tested to improve the efficiency of WWT. The concepts included first of its kind common evaluation system for efficient energy performance and sludge treatment based on the wide range of data collected in the BSR. The concepts involved tools for self-audit as well as reports on the regional WWT performance based on the key figure data collected for benchmarking energy and sludge management practices. The pilot investments were implemented for improved energy efficiency and enhanced nitrogen control as well as to increase the quality of sludge management and enhance the nutrient removal through sludge water treatment and new solutions for sludge hygienisation, stabilisation and drying.
More concretely, project activities included:
- Increasing capacity of WWT operators to unlock energy saving potential and to choose right sludge treatment technologies at both small and big scale by conducting series of international onsite workshops and online webinars, and producing a training materials package to be used by WWTPs outside the consortium;
- Collecting WWT data to evaluate energy benchmark and sludge benchmark;
- Developing audit concepts for smart energy management and smart sludge management (including common evaluation system of sludge treatment efficiency) in relation to efficient nutrient removal;
- Piloting investments of novel energy nutrient-related technologies and management models for WWTPs at varying advancement levels;
- Piloting investments to test advanced treatment systems for sludge water and innovative and cost-effective sludge treatment applications for different scale WWTPs;
- Organising national and international dissemination events, and involving project partners and relevant stakeholders to make a commitment for improving the state of the Baltic Sea;
- Launching the online portal Baltic Smart Water Hub allowing transnational experience and knowledge exchange and durability of the project's results.
Increased capacity of WWT operators in choosing and operating cost-effective technologies promotes the uptake of the best available technology for energy saving and sludge handling in BSR. The current forerunners in the region became more visible to motivate and empower others to follow on their tracks and implement voluntary actions that go beyond the legal requirements. Wastewater sector professionals were enabled to choose both most appropriate solutions for energy efficient nutrient removal on different technological levels, and most suitable sludge treatment technologies at both small and big scale. This resulted in more effective operation of WWTPs with reduced energy consumption, better integration of sludge treatment facilities to the main wastewater treatment processes, and improved effluent quality, contributing to better environmental state of the Baltic Sea.
Practical results and project outputs can be accessed on the IWAMA website.