Promising first results for the removal of pharmaceutical residues and phosphate
The first results of a pilot study after the new method for removing pharmaceutical residues and phosphate from municipal treated wastewater are promising. This pilot study, called Bio-Gak, aims to find an affordable and sustainable solution for removing micropollutants from treated wastewater before the water is discharged into surface water. With this method, both medicine residues and phosphate can be removed.
The Bio-GAK pilot study started in the autumn of 2022 at the Puurwaterfabriek in Emmen, the Netherlands, which is co-owned by NWP member Vechtstromen Water Authority. The first results are now known, and they are promising! Measurements show that the Bio-GAK pilot removes mostly all pharmaceuticals from the sewage water (WWTP effluent). Phosphate removal is also proceeding according to plan. More information will be collected in the coming months and the biological effect of the carbon filter is expected to develop further.
The purification technique used at Bio-GAK, just like the BODAC technique that is also used in the Puurwaterfabriek, uses activated carbon granules that are aerated. Bacteria in this system, as has been previously discovered, ensure the breakdown of medicine residues. This prevents the medicine residues from ending up in the surface water.
Contribution to achieving WFD targets
The aim of the WFD (Water Framework Directive) is that all water in Europe will be clean and healthy by 2027 at the latest. One of the measures that the water authorities must take to contribute to achieving these goals is the removal of sufficient phosphate from wastewater. With this Bio-GAK pilot, two purification techniques are combined and both medicine residues and phosphate are removed from treated wastewater.
Execution of pilot research
The Bio-GAK pilot study was initiated by Brightwork and is being carried out in part by NieuWater, RWB Water and the Dutch water authority Vechtstomen. The research is being carried out in the context of the Innovation Program Micropollutants from WWTP wastewater, the programme is run by STOWA (a Dutch research foundation for applied water research) and the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. STOWA and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management are contributing financially to make this pilot possible. The Dutch water authorities Rijn & IJssel, Vallei & Veluwe, Drents Overijsselse Delta and Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg are also participating in the study. At the same time, the Belgian Aquafin is conducting a comparable study at WWTP Aartselaar.