Regenerate a rural brownfield by in situ biorecovery strategies for site decontamination and reclamation of the area to develop a multifunctional space.
The project aims to solve the negative environmental impact caused by the inadequate management of olive mill wastewaters (OMW) related to their uncontrolled disposal in evaporation ponds. Many oversized ponds stored OMW with a pollution risk (high organic load, and polyphenol content with phytotoxic and antimicrobial properties). They usually result in hotspots and often affect neighbouring systems. The case study focuses on an OMW disposal area of evaporation ponds (5 ha) located in Mora municipality (Spain).
Restoration of abandoned ponds will be an opportunity to create biodiversity islands using the bioreclamation strategies, including the following sequence: a) implantation of a combination of bio-strategies (composting, phytoremediation and microorganisms) in a scale scenario for a quick vegetal coverage to avoid degradation & soil losses, including synergies to enhance decontamination & phytoextraction of inorganic & organic pollutants, b) implantation of indigenous vegetal species identified in the polluted area to develop vegetal colonization; c) enhancement of integral naturalization of the polluted area to recreational-educational producing also an humid environment potentially used as bird migration islands.
It will have important benefits for the environment and the economy. The area will be rehabilitated as an ecopark.
A wide range of entities can benefit from the project results, including public authorities, technology and industrial associations, etc.
The budget of the project is 1,480,627 € with a European LIFE program financial contribution of 60%. The project partners provide the remaining 40% with their own resources. This budget will allow us to restore 68% of the total contaminated area.
Evidence of success
The project was launched in October 2017 and some significant results have been already achieved:
- Two microorganisms capable of biodegrading the most refractory compounds have been isolated;
- At least 4 organic waste materials have been selected that can be mixed with the OMW for biostrategies.
The main challenge will be the upscaling of the selected recovery bio-strategy for reclamation OMW ponds and the subsequent replicability and transferability protocol.
Potential for learning or transfer
The lack of EU legislation results in inconsistent monitoring and a large amount of OMW is still deposited in ineffective evaporation ponds. In fact, OMW production is estimated at 10 -12 x106 m3/year (from November to March). However, a complete inventory of OMW ponds does not yet exist and it is difficult to quantify the extent of the problem. It seems that the environmental problem could be higher and could be the major environmental issue which the sector faces.
The need of a solution to this problem is a serious concern for the sector and public authorities, as the main stakeholders. Thus, the achieved outputs could help stakeholders to replicate the methodology to remediate similar contaminated sites. Because of that, dissemination (training) and replicability activities (methodology guide and business plan) will be developed to transfer the knowledge and results obtained. To do this, both the public and private sectors take an active interest in this project.
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