LIFE Project Cover Photo

Green solutions for treating groundwater pollution to meet drinking water directive standards

Reference: LIFE18 ENV/ES/000199 | Acronym: LIFE SPOT



Groundwater is the main source of drinking water for people living in rural areas in Mediterranean countries. Nevertheless, because of pollution severe drinking water shortages exist. Anthropogenic pollution by nitrate and pesticides is one of themain water quality problems in small and very small water supplies. Approximately 13% of groundwater monitoring stations across Europe exceed the 50 mg NO3/L limit established by Council Directive 91/676/EEC on protecting against water pollution.


The main objective of LIFE SPOT is to develop a new treatment process which removes nitrates and micropollutants from polluted groundwater and produces drinking water of good quality that meets the requirements of Council Directive 98/83/EC on drinking water quality. This will be applied in rural areas (with 50 inhabitants or <10m3/day water consumption) in the Mediterranean region. It will also help make rural areas more sustainable and resilient and support the agriculture and tourism sectors.

The project will build and operate two microalgae (MA)-cork pilot treatment plants, one treating 10 m3/day and another 1 m3/day. Both MA-cork pilot plants will use photobioreactors (bio-solar purification) and dissolved air flotation technology to enable microalgae separation, and a filtration system based on granulated cork as a substrate.

LIFE SPOT will support the Council directives on drinking water quality (Directive 98/83/EC) and nitrates pollution (Directive 91/676/EEC).


Expected results: The main expected result is a sustainable process which turns nitrate- and pesticide- contaminated groundwater into drinking water for the needs of local people and livestock, following the requirements of the Nitrate Directive 91/676/EEC.

  • expected nitrate removal performance of at least 60-80% in water containing 50-150 mg/L NO3;
  • production at the two Catalonian sites of at least 3500 m3 of water which meets the quality for animal/human consumption, and another at least 350 m3 at the French site;
  • 5-10 kg/day of CO2 fixation through microalgae biosequestration;
  • re-use of the excess microalgae (compost or biogas); and
  • at least 50% of the phosphorus requirement for the microalgae reactor obtained from the microalgae sludge valorisation process (known as P-reuse).

    Reference: LIFE18 ENV/ES/000199
    Acronym: LIFE SPOT
    Start Date: 01/07/2019
    End Date: 30/06/2023
    Total Budget: 2,179,363 €
    EU Contribution: 1,195,896 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Torre Marimon, Crta C-59, km 12.1, 08140, Caldes de Montbui,
    Contact Person: Carmen Biel
    Tel: 34934674040
    Fax: 34934674042

    LIFE Project Map



    • Water management and supply
    • Water scarcity and drought
    • Human health protection
    • Water quality improvement


    • water quality improvement
    • drinking water
    • water supply
    • pollutant elimination
    • groundwater
    • water treatment
    • water shortage


    • Directive 91/676 - Protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (12.12.1991)
    • Directive 98/83 - Quality of water intended for human consumption (03.11.1998)


    Name Type
    NEN(SAS NENUPHAR), France Participant
    FACSA(Sociedad Fomento Agrícola Castellonense, S.A.), Spain Participant
    CSIC(Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), Spain Participant
    Eurecat(FUNDACIÓ EURECAT), Spain Participant