Project Lead(s): Ignacio Benavent Trullenque
Pollution of waterways and disposal of untreated waste water is a serious environmental problem in Peru, and contributes to numerous health issues.
The significant environmental impact led to wastewater treatment solutions promoted by the Pan American Center for Sanitary Engineering and Environmental Sciences. However, with population growth, these designs became obsolete, and there has been a progressive loss of efficiency and a collapse of purification processes.
The object of the project was to develop a wastewater treatment procedure that would take advantage of filtrating capabilities of certain native plants that are abundant in the natural wetlands in Peru, to achieve improved environmental equilibrium.
The system could be used by domestic wastewater treatment plants that currently are the source of pollution and cause many health problems for populations living near those treatment plants.
In the first phase of the project, the team investigated the benefits of employing the Phytodepuration system in the pond at the Universidad de Piura, where the water quality was compared with a conventional treatment system.
In the second phase, the team plans to duplicate the Phytodepuration system in a wastewater treatment plant within the Piura region.
Awareness workshops were also conducted with wastewater treatment plant managers and other key stakeholders.
The project was able to demonstrate that it is possible to treat and clean the water of oxidation ponds by cultivating a bed of native macrophytes plants in the oxidation ponds.
Improvements were noted in the quality of water, soil and air surrounding the pond, which positively impacted those living near the pond. A reduction in respiratory diseases was noted, with bad odours significantly diminished.
The team has established links with other wastewater treatment plants, in order to replicate the methodology in other oxidation ponds.
An important feature of this approach is that the wastewater can be reused to generate green areas or irrigate certain crops or woodlands.
The research team intends to scale the innovation.