– The European project LIFE Nirvana concludes after four years of research in which innovative technology for in situ groundwater bioremediation has been developed.
– The final event of this project brought together representatives from various administrations and companies, as well as the scientific and academic sectors, to discuss how to address nitrate pollution in aquifers.
The European project LIFE Nirvana, led by Cetaqua Andalucía in collaboration with Aguas de Murcia and Aquatec – a company within the Agbar Group – held its final event “Innovative Solutions for Aquifer Denitrification: Success Stories and Future Challenges.” An event in Murcia that gathered around thirty representatives from various administrations and companies, as well as the scientific and academic sectors, to discuss how to address nitrate pollution in aquifers.
The meeting provided a great opportunity not only to present the results and findings obtained in this project, funded by the European Commission’s LIFE program but also to learn from other experiences through guest speakers such as Alejandro Pérez Pastor, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), and Marc Viñas, a senior researcher at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) Sustainability in Biosystems Program.
Groundwater is an essential resource for life and human activity development, constituting the world’s main source of liquid freshwater. Today, its main problem is nitrate contamination, caused by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and livestock activities, leading to a degradation of groundwater quality.
In response to this situation, the goal of the LIFE Nirvana project is to promote more sustainable water resource management. To achieve this, it has developed an innovative, effective, and sustainable technology for in situ bioremediation of nitrate contaminated aquifers. This solution involves injecting small amounts of zero-valent iron nanoparticles into the aquifer to convert nitrate into N2, a harmless gas that ends up in the atmosphere.
During the event, all details about the project’s development and its pilot in the Zarandona aquifer (Murcia) were shared. Pablo Cascales, Head of Groundwater and Surface Water Capture and Treatment at EMUASA, pointed out that “in total, we have sampled for 282 days, collected 2,149 samples, and carried out 79 nanoparticle injections.” In addition, replication studies conducted in the Lens-Liévin (France), Campina de Faro (Portugal), and Bárig (Spain) aquifers were presented.
Guest speakers also shared their experiences during the session. Alejandro Pérez Pastor, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), said, “Our goal is to make agriculture sustainable. We have to increase agricultural sustainability through technology, especially in water-scarce areas.” Marc Viñas, a senior researcher at the IRTA Sustainability in Biosystems Program, presented the LIFE Spot project: “Its goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness of green solutions for nitrate, pesticide, and antibiotic attenuation in groundwater to obtain drinking water in rural areas.”
Finally, an ideation session was held to discuss future challenges in addressing the issue of nitrate pollution in groundwater.