AQUACYCLE signs cooperation agreement in North Lebanon
On 24 September 2020, the Lebanese University (UL) in the AQUACYCLE partnership signed a cooperation agreement related to wastewater treatment and reuse of treated water in the agricultural sector with The Real Estate Company for the Development of Tripoli North, SANABEL.
The signing ceremony was quickly picked up by several media channels in Lebanon (click on icons below to read up on the coverage in Arabic of the event).
Under the provisions of the agreement, SANABEL expresses its desire to cooperate with the Lebanese University by granting access to an area of 500 square meters of land owned by SANABEL for the Lebanese University to establish a pilot wastewater treatment demonstration unit.
Both parties to the agreement express their commitment to improve the environmental reality in Lebanon, specifically in the field of wastewater treatment and recycling within the context of the AQUACYCLE project which receives EU funding through the ENI CBC Med Programme.
The prevailing water scarcity, the impacts of climate change in Lebanon and in the Middle East, as well as the need to protect the environment and natural resources, stimulate the introduction of wastewater treatment and its reuse as an additional water resource in Lebanon’s National Water Resources Management Plan.
In fact, Lebanon’s National Water Resources Management Plan duly recognizes that an active use of treated wastewater for irrigation and for other purposes can contribute significantly to reducing water scarcity, as part of an integrated and sustainable management approach to water resources.
To underline their commitment, both parties expressed the view that the AQUACYCLE project heralds a much overdue application of an integrated and sustainable management of water resources in Lebanon.
The agreement was signed on behalf of the Lebanese University by the Dean of the Doctoral School for Science and Technology, Professor Fawaz El-Omar (pictured signing on right), and by company lawyer Rami Sharqieh on behalf of SANABEL. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Ahmad ElMoll and Mohamad Khalil (pictured standing from left to right) in their respective role as Team Leader and Administrative Responsible for the AQUACYCLE project within the Lebanese University.
With this agreement, the Lebanese University demonstrates its continued support for innovation and targeted research in the environmental sector.
In his address on the occasion of the signing ceremony, Professor Fawaz El-Omar reiterated that the AQUACYCLE project is the first of its kind in Lebanon, as it is aimed at demonstrating an eco-innovative treatment technology to address the environmental, social and economic impacts of domestic wastewater. In addition, the project is aimed at reducing operational expenses, the recovery of energy and the production of valuable substances such as fertilizer.
The Dean emphasized that the AQUACYCLE project relies on modern and advanced technologies not only in respect of the treatment process and the removal of pollutants but also in relation to use of solar energy.
The planned demonstration unit in Deddeh Koura, North Lebanon on land owned by SANABEL will be showcased as an appropriate solution for small towns and communities of around 10,000 persons. Decentralized wastewater treatment can provide a long-term and cost-effective solution for these communities by avoiding large capital costs, reducing operation and maintenance costs, and promoting job opportunities.
As shown in the schematic presentation below, the eco-innovative APOC technology demo plant will consist of an anaerobic digester, a constructed wetland and a raceway pond for solar disinfection, and will be installed on the 500 square meters of land put at the disposal of the Lebanese University by SANABEL.
The anaerobic digestion process permits the recovery of biogas and the production of a nutrient-rich by-product (solid digestate) which can be used as fertilizer in agriculture. The second component, the constructed wetland, is a natural process purposely designed to improve the quality of the anaerobic reactor effluent by “trapping” hazardous or recalcitrant substances, thus increasing the possible usages of the treated water and control of the spread of harmful substances in the environment. A constructed wetland is also a productive system, producing biomass by harvesting the vegetation that can be further used as pelletized slow-releasing soil amendment/fertilizer, and thrives as a habitant, an ecological tourist attraction aside from being a climate change mitigation measure. Finally, the treated water is disinfected with the aid of natural solar radiation and the addition of low cost reagents in a raceway pond.
The water quality obtained as a result of this 3-fold treatment process abides by international standards for the safe reuse of treated wastewater in agriculture.
Over the three year span of the AQUACYCLE project, intensive training courses are planned not only for operators of the wastewater treatment technology but also for farmers and other interested parties on the safe use of the treated wastewater in agriculture.
With a focus on integrating social, economic and environmental sustainability concepts, the implementation of the AQUACYCLE project is set to be consistent with national plans that are being pursued by several ministries in Lebanon. Indeed, the AQUACYCE project aims are fully consistent with the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy and Water, most notably in respect of climate change, the circular economy, and sustainable consumption and production.