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The European LIFE Matrix project aims to increase available groundwater resources by 15% and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 99%.

Managed Aquifer Recharge with regenerated water, a system to combat water stress

This initiative, led by Cetaqua Andalucía and with the participation of Cetaqua Barcelona, ACOSOL and the University of Málaga, will be demonstrated in Marbella

In recent years, drought events in the European Union have been increasing in frequency. One-third of the territory experiences water stress, which compromises the availability of this type of natural resource. The main objective of the LIFE Matrix project, within the framework of the European LIFE programme, is to demonstrate the technical, environmental and health feasibility of a Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) system using regenerated water, treated wastewater subjected to complementary treatment processes for reuse.

The LIFE Matrix solution consists of a combination of three aspects: physical, based on the adequacy of the quality of reclaimed water for recharge into the aquifer; digital, by integrating all the information in a risk management tool; and governance, based on the establishment of guidelines that contribute to standardising this recharge system under a legal or regulatory framework at national and European level.

Costa del Sol chosen as a pilot site for the LIFE Matrix project

LIFE Matrix will demonstrate its solution on the Costa del Sol, more specifically at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) of La Vibora, in Marbella, managed by ACOSOL, a public company belonging to the Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Costa del Sol Occidental.

This location has been chosen because it is one of the most touristic areas in Spain, which has two key factors. On the one hand, it is an area with great water stress and, on the other hand, the demand for water doubles during the summer months as a result of the increase in the tourist population. It is, therefore, necessary to better integrate non-conventional water resources (such as regenerated water) into management plans.

Near-total reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

The managed aquifer recharge system proposed by LIFE Matrix combines the application of technologies based on the capacity of the geological environment for additional water treatment with a strict control of the target quality parameters in the three phases (water, soil and aquifer), in order to ensure the optimal quality of the recharged water.

In this way, LIFE Matrix will reuse 50,000 m3 of reclaimed water to recharge aquifers by surface infiltration, thus increasing the available groundwater resources by 15% and reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 99% compared to other technologies used.

All this will be possible thanks to the work of the project consortium. LIFE Matrix, co-funded by the European Commission’s LIFE programme, is coordinated by Cetaqua Andalucía, Andalusian Water Research Centre Foundation, with the participation of Cetaqua Barcelona, Water Technology Centre; the Centro de Hidrogeología de la Universidad de Málaga (CEHIUMA) and ACOSOL. The Project also has the support of local entities such as Junta de Andalucía, the Marbella Town Council, Association of Municipalities of the Western Costa del Sol and the water operator Hidralia.