The purification of residual waters continues to be a major challenge especially for small population centers and industries. Suffice it to say that in 2008, it was estimated, that in Spain alone, there were more than 6,000 population centers (where more than three million people lived) that did not have an suitable system for the treatment of these waters. Sedaqua, a spin-off of the University of A Coruña (UdC) created at the end of 2012, has developed a project that allows to install a sort of ecological wetlands and at very low energy cost that can be financially viable and with returns within a period of just four years.
David de la Varga and Manuel Soto are the founding partners of a company that was born within the group of Chemical Environmental Engineering of the UdC.; De la Varga explains that from the beginning they saw clearly the commercial possibilities of developing a product that could be implemented in both developed and underdeveloped countries. In Spain since 2006 urban agglomerations of less than 2,000 inhabitants that discharge its waste water directly into estuaries and that have a sanitation network are bound by mandatory law to redirect their wastewater to a suitable regulated water treatment.
The wetlands developed by Sedaqua are capable of treating waters with high levels of pollution, with an initial investment up to 40% lower than conventional treatment systems. The reduction in energy consumption can reach 100% and sewage and maintenance costs are considerably cut down. Other benefits of this project is that chemical elements are not used and the landscape integration of the treatment plant in the environment.
For a population of 140 inhabitants, the investment needed for a treatment plant with conventional wetlands would amount to 90,000 euros, while in the case of the one developed by Sedaqua, it will be reduced to 60,000 euros . The energy cost barely reaches 800 euros a year. This has caused that different city councils and private companies have already been interested in the project. For now, a water treatment plant of these characteristics has been installed in Lalín and another three in various wineries, two in Galicia and one in Navarra.