Municipal and industrial sewage treatment plants in Germany reprocess more than 96 percent of wastewater to the highest standard possible using technology, in accordance with the country’s Federal Water Act.1 This spurs utilities to take a pioneering role in leveraging new technologies and innovation to enhance water protection.
The public utility Wasserverband Eifel-Rur (WVER) is using Xylem’s Wedeco ozone oxidation technology for its treatment plant Aachen-Soers to remove micro-pollutants. Aachen-Soers is inducing treated wastewater into the Wurm River (pictured right), which is embedded in a protected natural reserve. The river depends on water intake from the treatment plant, and the plant’s effluent makes up a high proportion of the river's water supply – up to 70 percent in dry weather. This means that WVER must constantly work to meet high standards for water pollution control.
Organic micro-pollutants in the wastewater, such as hormones from contraceptive pills, antibiotics, X-ray contrast media, diclofenac and chemicals, were a source of concern, as wastewater treatment plants are not able to remove these trace substances. Micro-pollutants enter sewage treatment plants via the sewer system, where they can only be partially degraded. Oftentimes, they only occur in very small concentrations and can only be detected with modern measuring methods. Aachen-Soers had already implemented such measures.
To further ensure safe water, the plant operators contacted the Xylem German team and Wedeco experts. The three common treatment steps (mechanical, biological and chemical) were extended to a “fourth” purification stage where Xylem’s advanced technology in ozone oxidation allows micro-pollutants to be converted into non-toxic components or biomass. After the oxidation process, the treated water is induced into the natural river, still containing minerals and therefore not harmful to the habitat. WVER is now purifying the entire wastewater stream with an industrial-scale ozone plant that can take up to 3,000 liters (or more than 792 gallons) per second.
The Aachen-Soers project is a collaborative work between the technical university RWTH Aachen, external consultants and the Xylem Wedeco research team – and shows how Xylem is working with visionary customers to reduce micro-pollutants and provide safe water, while protecting communities and the environment across the globe.