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Onema co-funds 13 projects against micropollutants in urban waters

Efforts to reduce micropollutants in water are today a major factor in improving the quality of aquatic environments and public health. Following a call for projects, Onema and the Water agencies have decided to invest 10 million euros in 13 large projects that will test under real-life conditions a number of solutions to reduce and, if possible, eliminate micropollutants from water and aquatic environments. Over the next five years, these projects will involve local governments, engineering firms, labs, as well as both large and small companies.

A wide array of pollutants transit urban sewer and rainwater systems and end up in aquatic environments. They include household cosmetics and medicinal residues in wastewater, products used in hospitals to treat diseases and to disinfect, polluting compounds running off urban surfaces (roads, buildings, roofs, etc.) in rainwater, etc. These substances, present in minute concentrations, are likely to have negative effects on ecosystems and on human health. To enhance our knowledge on micropollutants and reduce their impact on aquatic environments and resources, Onema, the Water agencies and the Ecology and Health ministries launched in June 2013 a call for projects titled Innovation and changes in work habits for micropollutants in urban wastewater. The call for projects is part of the national plan against micropollutants.

The 13 selected projects were presented to the public by Ségolène Royal, the Ecology minister, in July. Over a five-year period (2014-2018), local governments, their private partners and numerous laboratories will work together on the projects. The projects themselves deal with innovative solutions ranging from changing the practices of users and professionals to the development of new technical solutions, such as new urban systems to manage rainwater and methods to assess pollutants. Cost effectiveness is one of the criteria assessed.

The 13 projects may be divided into four main topics, namely household cosmetics and medicinal residues, contaminants in hospital emissions, integrated management of micropollutants in collective sanitation systems and management of pollutants in rainwater run-off. The long-term objective is subsequently to generalise the use of these solutions throughout the country.

The selected projects

  • SMS: Immediately separate urine and treat micropollutants in wastewater (Haute-Garonne department).
  • Cosmet’eau: Change habits concerning body-care products (Paris region).
  • Seneur: Take action against pharmaceutical residues (Martinique).
  • Biotech: Take action against biocides in wastewater (City of Poitiers).
  • Sipibel-Rilact: Take action against pollutants from medicines, detergents and disinfectants (Haute-Savoie department).
  • Rempar Siba: Take action against micropollutants in rainwater and from hospitals (Arcachon basin).
  • Lumieau: Improve control over pollutant flows to preserve water resources (Strasbourg area).
  • Micropolis: Innovative tools to characterise risks of micropollutant contamination in aquatic environments (Alpes-Maritimes department).
  • Regard: Comprehensive and integrated programme against micropollutants (City of Bordeaux).
  • Micro-Reuse: Reduce micropollutants in order to reuse water discharged from wastewater treatment plants (Réunion Island).

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