Varadero, Cuba, 20 Jul 2015

New demonstration wastewater treatment plants launched in Cuba

Within the framework of the European Union funded project "MAS AGUA PARA TODOS" (Adapting to climate change and mitigating water scarcity by innovative urban water management in Cuba), two new pilot demonstration wastewater treatment systems were inaugurated beginning of July in the Cuban tourist resort of Varadero.

According to Project Directors Dr. Carlos Lopez Vazquez (UNESCO-IHE) and Prof. Orestes Gonzalez Diaz (Higher Polytechnique Institute "Jose Antonio Echeverria", CUJAE), both pilot systems involve some of the most advanced wastewater treatment technologies. Thus, the demonstration nature of the two pilot treatment plants will allow to assess treatment efficiencies in the local Wastewater Treatment Plant "Punta Hicacos" and compare them against that of the existing conventional wastewater treatment technology to contribute to reduce water scarcity while preserving the environment.

As presented during the opening ceremony by Dr. Hector Garcia (UNESCO-IHE) and Prof. Guang-Hao Chen (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HKUST), each pilot plant is based on a different treatment system. The first one is a Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) able to reach high treatment and removal efficiencies capable of providing a relatively high quality effluent which could be reused after further polishment. The second system is the so-called SANI system (which stands for Sulfate Reduction Autotrophic Denitrification and Nitrification Integrated), an innovative process developed by Prof. Guang-Hao Chen in collaboration with Delft University of Technology.

The SANI system can treat saline wastewater with minimum emissions and energy requirements facilitating the potential replacement of fresh water by seawater for toilet flushing. It will therefore contribute to reducing freshwater consumption and savings, or the treatment of saline wastewater generated by saline water intrusion into the sewage network (a common phenomenon in coastal zones).

First Chinese multilateral action

The Ambassador of the People's Republic of China in Cuba, his Excellency Mr. Zhang Tuo, underlined that this is the first multilateral action undertaken by China in Cuba, recognizing the valuable contribution from each partner to the project and expressing his increasing interest in promoting similar multilateral actions (EU-Cuba-China) in the near future.

Besides highlighting the potential benefits, scope and reach of "MAS AGUA PARA TODOS", Mr. Vladimir Cabrales, Director of Foreign Affairs at the National Institute of Water Resources and Mrs. Niuris Landa, General Director of Aguas de Varadero, expressed their gratitude for the implementation of such an action in Cuba. This was seconded by Prof. Damir Brdjanovic, Head of the Environmental Engineering and Water Technology Department at UNESCO-IHE, who emphasized the importance of the capacity building component of the project, through the formation of Cuban water professionals and the refurbishment of the Sanitary Engineering Lab at CUJAE.

About the project

The project "MAS AGUA PARA TODOS: Adapting to climate change and mitigating water scarcity by innovative urban water management in Cuba" is executed from September 2013 in the Provinces of La Habana and Matanzas in Cuba, funded by the European Union (75%) (DCI-ENV/2010/247-301) and UNESCO-IHE (25%). This action is implemented in partnership with the Instituto Superior Politecnico "Jose Antonio Echeverria" (CUJAE) and having as Cuban collaborators the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidraulicos (National Water Resources Institute, INRH) and the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Industria Alimentaria (Food Industry Research Institute, IIIA).

Visit the project website here

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