Conversion of small and medium-sized wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in rural areas into facilities aimed at resource recovery

Financed by:

Financiador CircRural

Funder Program: Interreg Sudoe


  • Ceit

  • Fundación Instituto Tecnológico de Galicia (Spain)

  • Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Toulouse (France)

  • Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal)

  • Centro Tecnológico Nacional Agroalimentario (Extremadura, Spain)

  • Consorcio para la gestión de servicios medioambientales de la provincia de Badajoz (Spain)

  • Águas de Portugal - SGPS, SA (Portugal)

  • Syndicat Mixte de l'Eau et de l'Assainissement de Haute-Garonne (France)

  • Agencia EFE S.A.U. - S.M.E. (Spain)


The main challenge of CircRural4.0 is to convert small and medium-sized wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in rural areas into facilities aimed at resource recovery.

Unlike large WWTPs, where resource recovery occurs at the plant itself, CircRural4.0's proposal for rural areas is based on a holistic vision of waste and wastewater management in which the main sub-processes that facilitate the recovery of resources in large WWTPs are geographically distributed so the solution as a whole is economically feasible and environmentally sustainable.

The technical solution proposed by CircRural4.0 consists of four great products:

  • The first is an advanced control product that will allow for the biological elimination of phosphorus in oxidation ponds (the most common configuration in rural WWTPs).

  • The second is a data analysis software tool that will convert raw data from multiple rural WWTPs into information that is easy to analyse and interpret. In order to facilitate the integrated management of rural WWTPs, all this information will be centralized and accessible via the Internet.

  • The third product is a treatment technology that combines dry anaerobic co-digestion with precipitation of N and P. To make the production of methane and the recovery of N and P feasible in rural areas, CircRural4.0 proposes a centralizing sludge treatment and agri-food waste based on said technology.

  • The fourth product is model-based software that will help study optimal design solutions for integrated management of wastewater, sludge and agrifood waste in rural areas.

Reaching the large number of oxidation dams (> 1000 facilities) present in Spain, France and Portugal is impossible without the active participation of partners from each country. For this reason, transnational cooperation is necessary not only to address the technical aspects of the project but also to ensure that project results are widely disseminated in each country.

Ceit's role in the project

Ceit is the coordinator of this project, thus taking a leading role in developing three of the four products. Ceit will be responsible for both the development of the advanced control product and the model-based software tool. Ceit will also lead the construction of the pilot plant in which the technology for producing methane and fertilizers will be validated as well as provide technical assistance during the operation of this pilot plant.