A team of researchers from the Universidad Católica del Maule, hopes to improve the quality of water discharges before they reach natural water bodies. This will be done through a constructed wetland, a wastewater treatment system that has become renowned for its efficiency.
In the Los Lagos Region, a pilot project will be installed based on one of the most widely implemented technologies worldwide to treat the wastewater generated in small urban agglomerations. It is a constructed wetland, which will be financed by the Fund for the Promotion of Scientific and Technological Development (Fondef, for its acronym in Spanish).
«We are going to test a technological model to treat mixed water, which is the mixture between rainwater and municipal wastewater,» said Dr. Ismael Vera-Puerto, who heads the team of researchers at the Universidad Católica del Maule (UCM, in Spanish) that won the funds managed by the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT).
The also academic of the Faculty of Engineering Sciences of the UCM and member of the Center for Innovation in Applied Engineering (CIIA for its acronym in Spanish) of the same campus added that “Especially in the south of the country, when it rains, the problem is that volumes of water that are transported through the pipes, are larger than the design capacities of the wastewater treatment systems. So, what they do is unloading that water without treatment”.
In Chile, when the sanitary infrastructure reaches its maximum capacity, the Superintendence of Sanitary Services allows the discharge to natural water bodies, without improving its quality. This causes a progressive deterioration in rivers, lakes, lagoons and seas, among other bodies of water, where the liquid is released.
“We offer a solution based on the nature. We will try a vertical type constructed wetland (…), which is fed thru the surface and percolates vertically, to deliver better quality water to the bottom”, Vera-Puerto pointed out.
The initiative, which will last for two years, also contemplates that the Department of Social and Economic Sciences of the mentioned university will carry out surveys. “We will study the level of acceptance of technology in the community”, announced the civil engineer.
The application process for the project will also be in charge of the Department of Engineering and the Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences of the UCM, with the support of the companies ESSAL and Aguas Claras. Moreover, it had the support of the Innovation Platform of the same educational institution.