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Wastewater promotes Spanish crops. Murcia elected to global example

Recycled wastewater is a strategic solution, as well as a challenge, to drive the agricultural sector toward a sustainable future. 
Farmers in southeastern Spain, aware of the difficulties exacerbated by climate change, including rainfall shortages, are forerunners in smart water management.

For more than two decades, the region of Murcia has been a benchmark in the reuse of wastewater for crop irrigation. Indeed, the area is known for its aridity and chronic water shortages, but also for the incredible productive capacity of the primary sector. The region is one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables in the European Union.

In Murcia, a network of 100 treatment plants has been developed to treat wastewater, i.e. to disinfect water from the sewage system so that it can be used in the fields.
The treatment involves the use of sand filters and ultraviolet rays. These technologies ensure that the water is not contaminated and does not transfer bacteria to fruits and vegetables.

To date, the region reuses about 98 percent of its wastewater, a resounding achievement considering the national (9 percent) and European Union (5 percent) averages. This dynamic allows 15% of the region’s irrigation needs to be met from recycled wastewater. Water reclamation solutions are often complemented by other technologies, such as automated drip irrigation systems, which limit consumption of the primary commodity to what is necessary. 

The Spanish region’s strategy has attracted numerous foreign delegations from Latin America and Europe. And the Spanish government is now following the good example of Murcia’s farmers. In May, it allocated a budget of 1.4 billion euros to build the infrastructure needed to increase the national rate of wastewater use.

Wastewater recycling has proven to be one of the most effective green methods to ensure a stable amount of water for irrigation. And it is significantly cheaper than alternative solutions, such as seawater desalination.


Read also: Greenhouses: geothermal energy and hybrid solar panels to curb consumption
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