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Tuesday, 20 November 2018
From sewage to potable water

Engineer Marco Cremona’s revolutionary water technology wins acclaim of international panel. It is estimated that each hotel guest in Malta consumes at least three times as much water as a Maltese resident, for an annual consumption of around 3 million cubic metres of water a year.

This bleak fact is what prompted Ing. Marco Cremona to design a system that transforms wastewater, produced by a typical hotel in Malta, into potable water in a reliable and cost-effective way. Through this recycling process, 80% of the water that is normally consumed by the hotel can be saved.

The revolutionary potential of this new technology was recently recognised by an international jury which has declared Marco Cremona’ ‘Waste Water Re-Use for Hotels’ project as the national winner for the Energy Award 2008. Cremona’s project was among a total of 769 projects from 111 nations.

The pilot-project, the first of its kind worldwide, was designed to treat and recycle wastewater generated from the Radisson Golden Sands Resort and Spa, Ghajn Tuffieha.
“In this project, we are treating sewage directly into potable water and thus the public health safeguards that are required are more rigorous,” Cremona explains.

The results obtained so far are very satisfactory, and the quality of the water being produced to date is equivalent to bottled water. The samples will be collected and rigorously tested by the Public Health Department, which is also one of the partners in project.

As much as 55% of Malta’s public water supply comes from seawater desalination (reverse osmosis) plants, which is an energy-intensive and expensive process and consumes around 5% of the country’s total electricity production. The balance is made up by groundwater, which is becoming increasingly saline due to over-extraction.

Cremona expressed his concern that in an effort to keep operating costs low, numerous hotels have resorted to the purchase of ‘bowser’ water, the origin being groundwater of dubious quality.

The use of ‘bowser’ water presents a high risk of Legionella proliferation in the hotels` water system. Furthermore, the increasing demand for groundwater puts additional pressure on the country’s limited groundwater resources.

Irrespective of its source, almost all the water consumed by a hotel ends up as sewage, which is discharged into the sewerage system for further treatment/disposal. At present nobody pays for the sewerage service, but according to Cremona this is set to change in the very near future as the EU Commission stipulates the need for full cost recovery of all water services by 2010.

One of the benefits of the technology developed by Cremona is that hotels and establishments that adopt it will not discharge any sewerage into the sewage system, thus making them eligible for exemption from any future sewerage charges.

The application of the new technology will help hotels to remain competitive in the tourism sector through savings on their water bills.

Some hotels in Malta have installed small sewage treatment plants to provide water for landscaping and, in some cases, for the flushing of toilets.
“Although this is commendable, there is limited application for second-class water in a hotel, because the bulk of the water is consumed in showers, baths and wash-hand basins and this has to be of a potable water standard”.

The project produces high quality water by treating wastewater through a multi-barrier membrane process. The process provides first-class water for use in the guest rooms in the hotel, whilst also meeting all second-class water requirements for toilet cistern flushing, laundries and landscaping purposes. The membranes ensure that bacteria-free water is consistently produced.

The new technology is also remarkable for its efficient energy consumption. The pilot plant can produce 7,200 litres of potable water a day and consumes 6 kWh of electricity per cubic metres of potable water produced – which compares favourably with the energy consumption of seawater desalination.

Apart from Marco Cremona, who is the originator and co-ordinator of the project, the other partners in the project include the Island Hotels Group, TTZ Bremerhaven of Germany, Bioazul S.A. of Spain and the Environmental Health Unit of the Department of Public Health.

The International Energy Globe Awards have been held annually since 1999 to recognise projects that “make careful and economical use of resources and employ renewable energy sources”.

The winners were selected by a panel including members from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, the World Bank and the European Renewable Energy Council.

The awards will be presented on 14 April in Prague, with the award ceremony serving as the opening of the meeting of the European environmental ministers.

Source: MaltaToday 12/04/09

Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2009 11:59