Heavy rain events sometimes lead to significant discharge of pollutants in water bodies receiving wastewater, for two reasons. First, during such rain events, the capacity of urban drainage networks may be exceeded, generating untreated overflow. Second, the nominal capacity of wastewater treatment plants may be temporarily reduced, which also leads to the discharge of partially-treated or untreated wastewater into the natural environment. These combined stormwater overflows contribute to the degradation of aquatic ecosystems. To mitigate these impacts, cities have built stormwater retention tanks but the use of these tanks is not optimal, partly because their management takes into account only the water quantity, not the water quality. In the previous LIFE EFFIDRAIN project (LIFE14 ENV/ES/000860), innovative real-time control methodologies were developed and tested on two virtual reality systems, which can help water managers make a better use of the tanks’ capacity, thereby reducing the amount of polluted wastewater discharged into natural water bodies.
The LIFE RUBIES project aims at developing decision-making tools to limit pollution of receiving water bodies due to stormwater overflows. More precisely, it will test the innovative methodologies developed under the previous LIFE EFFIDRAIN project in real-world situations, in two full-scale pilots in Lille and Madrid, selected to be representative of medium and large European cities. To this end, the project will integrate these methodologies into an existing platform (called AQUADVANCED UD® - AQDV), which is used to monitor real-time data harvested in the sewer, run models and send control rules to the wastewater system. The project team will demonstrate that the integrated pollution-based real-time control methods using the upgraded AQDV platform are effective in reducing pollution due to stormwater overflows and can be widely applied. Socio-economic aspects will also be considered, as they will be essential to disseminate the solutions developed.
The project directly contributes to the implementation of EU water policy, especially the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (91/271/EEC), which requires Member States to limit pollution due to stormwater overflows, and the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). It will also contribute to national policies in France and Spain aiming to minimise water pollution. Indirectly, the project contributes to EU policy objectives on nature conservation and biodiversity, by reducing pressure of aquatic ecosystems, and EU climate change adaptation strategy, by reducing the environmental impacts of heavy-rain events, which are expected to occur more frequently due to climate change.
- An upgraded version of the software of the real-time control platform AQDV;
- Two full-scale demonstrators of integrated pollution-based real-time control of urban drainage networks and wastewater treatment plants for the protection of receiving bodies based on quantity and quality parameters;
- Two studies on the feasibility and impacts of the solutions developed;
- A specific and innovative environmental quality monitoring on both pilot sites;
- A technical, environmental, social and economic assessment at the scale of the pilot sites;
- Based on the project’s assessment, a replication and transfer plan with two new sites in the EU where the AQDV platform has already been deployed with different climates and sizes;
- Contacts with 8 stakeholder entities (managers of 3 public bodies/municipalities and managers of 5 water utilities);
- Decrease by around 15% (0.75 Mm3 for Lille) and 50% (7.5 Mm3 for Madrid) in the volume of sewer overflow discharged to receiving water bodies on the pilot sites every year by urban drainage networks and wastewater treatment plants during heavy-rain events;
- Decrease by around 25% (250 tons for Lille) and 45% (1 000 tons for Madrid) in the average Total Suspended Solids (TSS) mass in sewer overflow discharged to receiving water bodies every year on the pilot sites by urban drainage networks and wastewater treatment plants during heavy-rain events;
- Decrease by around 30% in the number of yearly events where Dissolved Oxygen is less than 3 mgO2/l for more than 2 hours in the receiving water bodies on the pilot sites;
- Decrease by around 20% in the number of yearly events where ammonia is higher than 5 mgNH4/l for more than 2 hours in the receiving water bodies;
- Decrease by around 10% in the area of the receiving water bodies affected by combined sewer overflows during heavy-rain events;
- Decrease by 10% of the yearly flooded volume during heavy-rain events on the pilot sites;
- Decrease by 5% of the yearly flooded area during heavy-rain events;
- Improvement in the long-term ecological status of the receiving water bodies on the two pilot sites, by 1 point (20%) according to the EU Ecological Status Classification Guidance calculation (scale ranging from 1 to 5; 1 being very good and 5 being very bad).