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Peer learning exchange on phosphorus recovery from wastewater treatment

On 23 June 2021, Aqua Publica Europea co-organised, in partnership with the European Commission TAIEX-EIR PEER 2 PEER programme, a peer learning expert mission on phosphorus recovery from wastewater treatment between experts from Germany, Belgium and Italy.

experts exchange

The members of Aqua Publica Europea are convinced that peer-to-peer learning is key for performance improvement to provide high-quality water and sanitation services to citizens, all in the context of a sustainable transition and changing climate. This mindset is at the core of Aqua Publica Europea's WATER ERASMUS initiative, aiming to facilitate technical exchanges within the network of public water operators.

On 23 June, Aqua Publica Europea had the opportunity to cooperate with the European Commission, in the framework of the TAIEX-EIR Peer 2 Peer- programme, to support the organisation of an expert mission on phosphorus recovery from wastewater treatment. Phosphorus recovery is a crucial subject as while is an important resource for agriculture and water, and its demand has increased, its lack of availability is an emerging problem. Therefore, water operators have an important role to play in supporting its recovery and so supplying it to fertilize agricultural soils, among other applications. 

The exchange was organised upon the request of the public water operator of the Italian region of Puglia, and a member of Aqua Publica, Acquedotto Pugliese. The operator was interested to explore potential solutions to re-use phosphorus, in line with the Circular Economy approach and the European Green Deal, to contribute to its current reflection on opportunities for circular economy and recycling of materials from wastewater treatment. 

Following an overview of the European Commission's ongoing review process of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, and the policy measures foreseen for sludge management in this context, experts from HAMBURG WASSER (Germany, member of Aqua Publica Europea), Acquedotto Pugliese (Italy, member of Aqua Publica Europea), Aquafin and Flanders Environment Agency (Belgium) discussed challenges and best practices for phosphorus recovery from wastewater treatment.