MSc, Civil-Environmental Engineering
INTEGRATED WATER CYCLE SUSTAINABILITY: WATER REUSE IN CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Historically, water use has been compartmentalized and managed separately with scope limited to the immediate water issue within the compartment. As sustainability is incorporated into water management, water needs to be managed as an Integrated Water Cycle (IWC). In the IWC, water is drawn from sources and wells of the environment, collected in basins or tank storages, treated before distribution to human being activities, where it is consumed and degraded from its high quality value, further discharged in sewerages towards the wastewater treatment plant, before becoming an effluent restoring water to water bodies in the environment, or to other sites when a partial or total recovery and reuse is applied. This last opportunity, within a circular economy challenge, is the main topic of the PhD plant in which ideas, experiments and full scale solutions for recoverable effluents will be studied.
The activity is in progress, some concepts about the starting:
Many anthropogenic activities can degrade ecosystems even if some zones are often considered not much polluted. Indeed, the optimal management of Integrated Water Cycle (IWC) is a key factor to maintain ecosystem services of human impacted areas. The traditional civil and hydraulic engineering knowledge about structures of the IWC can be considered well developed and integrated, although there are great improvements needed related to safety and optimization. In addition, studies of environmental impacts are not well developed and integrated to urban infrastructure. Nowadays many traditional and new chemicals reach the waters of IWC by human activities and water use (e.g. pharmaceuticals, household products, detergents, personal care products and many other xenobiotic compounds from air, discharges, runoffs and leakages). These can bring huge potential toxicity to the environment and man, so they must be controlled, calculated and forecasted. Other fundamental concept is to deem the IWC as a part of the modified nature of a territory, so the whole integrated water system that serves human activities, has to be considered as a part embedded in the territories, intended as the place where sustainable development is accomplished.