The INNOQUA consortium, a European Project to develop modular wastewater treatment systems for rural communities, has been awarded €7 million EU Horizon 2020 Funding.

UK participants Scottish Water and environmental consultants Aqua Enviro are working together on the project, which aims to improve water sanitation using innovative and sustainable methods, whilst also tackling the issue of water scarcity in rural areas. In all, 20 partners are involved in the four-year European research project, which is being coordinated by Nobatek, a renowned French research and technology organisation.

The INNOQUA project aims to provide an innovative, modular and sustainable waste water treatment technology with near-zero CO2 life-cycle emissions for use in rural areas. The technology includes novel biological treatment and disinfection modules and is designed to provide safe and affordable sanitation with the flexibility for global application. These technologies resemble natural purification processes and are based on the purification capacity of earthworms (lumbricids), zooplankton and microalgae, and alternatively, sunlight exposure.

The project directly addresses one of Scottish Water’s strategic objectives: ‘Sustainable Rural Communities’. Demonstration trials both within and outside the EU are planned in the latter phases of the project, with Scottish Water hosting a demonstration unit in the Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish demonstration site will have a collective sanitation system installed aimed at demonstrating low cost, sustainable, biologically-based waste water treatment for small-size housing units (20-30 people) in extreme weather conditions.

Roi Otero, Innovation Programme Manager for Scottish Water said: “Scottish Water has a high proportion of rural works and developing a sustainable approach to water use, treatment and sludge recycling is a challenge. This exciting project will play a key role for us in the development of innovative new solutions to make our rural communities more sustainable”.

In total, 11 demonstration sites will be used during the project in locations across the world, and each one will run for a year in order to simulate all climatic conditions.

Paul Lavender, Business Development Manager at Aqua Enviro says “It’s great that the EU has recognised the consortium’s really innovative technologies and the impact these could have on meeting the challenges of decentralised wastewater treatment."