New technologies in water and wastewater treatment and recycling

This proposal has two sub-projects and a proposed establishment as follow.

6.1. New Technologies in Water Treatment Plants


The concern over increasing needs for drinking water and awareness for development of systems to improve water quality both for drinking purposes and for effluents from wastewater treatment and industrial facilities have provided incentives to develop new technologies and improve performance of existing technologies.

Improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials as one of the sub goals of SDG 6 indicates the need for improvement in recycling, on the other hand, the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally is an upcoming challenge faced more and more every day. Hence, there is an urgent need to strengthen scientific knowledge and adopt cost-effective new technologies in water and wastewater treatment and recycling. This project responds to these needs by introducing the latest green technologies such as detoxification and wastewater recycling by solar-catalytic treatment, advanced oxidation process (AOP), adsorption, etc. As another important issue, reduction of sludge either by using sludge as a resource or sludge reduction in handling units through cell lysis and cryptic growth, Uncoupled metabolism, endogenous metabolism and microbial predation is yet to be considered in many countries, requiring additional effort in this project.

Objectives/ Motivation:

What motivates the implementation of this project is to introduce the latest cost-effective

technologies in treatment and recycling of water and wastewater, further enhance the scientific network of experts and key partners in order to develop future collaboration opportunities and improve water and wastewater treatment and recycle systems among the RCUWM Governing Board (GB) member states.

The ultimate objective of this project is supporting RCUWM GB member states to strengthen their scientific, technical and policy capacities to promote new technologies in water and wastewater treatment, recycling and manage human health and environmental risks caused by emerging pollutants in water and wastewater by compiling strategies for energy consumption -specially using solar panels- and carbon foot print minimization in wastewater treatment, presenting nature-based solutions for resilient and smart wastewater treatment as well as sludge management, improving water quality and promoting safe reuse of wastewater. This would lead to green, decentralized and Improved systems, for the aforementioned countries by forming a scientific network.

Scope and Target Groups:

Major target groups for this project are water and wastewater industry researchers, practitioners and policy-makers both within and outside the water sector, and other stakeholders from all GB member states.

Outline of Activities:

  1. Promoting scientific research and strengthen the knowledge based on the latest technologies in water and wastewater treatment and recycling
  2. Supporting scientific exchange and collaboration in aforementioned areas
  3. Fostering capacity building and awareness raising on new strategies for energy consumption and carbon foot print minimization, sludge management and cost-effective treatment and recycling methods by membrane, etc. in wastewater treatment as well as nature-based solutions for resilient and smart wastewater treatment
  4. Holding a concluding international conference to present results of the project activities, including case-study reports, technical and policy guidelines, experts’ meetings reports, designated platforms and awareness raising materials.

Expected Outcomes:

  • A series of technical and policy case-studies on water and wastewater technologies in different GB countries
  • Technical and policy guidelines, complemented by findings of case-studies, to assist science-based policy-making on addressing emerging pollutants and safe wastewater reuse
  • Multi-stakeholder events like experts’ meetings, workshops and international conferences for scientific exchange and expert collaboration to provide a platform for further scientific discussion on related issues.
  • Establishment of an international and comprehensive network of experts and institutions to facilitate scientific exchange and collaboration between developed and developing countries amongst RCUWM GB member states.

6.2. Improving the methods of using wastewater collection and treatment systems by creating and developing capacities and holding training courses


Today, in most countries of the world, wastewater treatment is considered as one of the important methods of environmental protection and public health promotion. The development of infrastructure for the collection and treatment of wastewater and the optimal maintenance and operation of it is one of the important concerns of countries. Therefore, the existence of efficient, trained and experienced personnel to maintain and operate these systems is one of the essential needs. Aquifer, industrial, aquaculture, etc. are used. As a result, maintaining the quality of the effluent and complying with national standards depends on the optimal design, implementation and operation of these systems.

By creating a suitable educational platform and communication channels between experts in order to exchange information and transfer experiences between countries in the region, it is possible to improve the quality of wastewater treatment plants and their use in various applications.

Objectives/ Motivation:

  • Holding training courses with the aim of improving the level of knowledge and transferring experiences.
  • Visiting important wastewater treatment plants in Iran and other countries in the region and planning to communicate between experts and users of wastewater systems.
  • Carrying out research projects in order to optimize and improve wastewater treatment and sludge management processes.
  • Collection and classification of wastewater treatment methods that are energy efficient and have less carbon footprint.


Training and capacity building of experts and operators of sewage system systems

Outline of Activities:

  1. Preparing a report on wastewater treatment plants and their operating status in the countries of the region (number, type of process, population covered, wastewater quality, and sludge management)
  2. Studying and analyzing reports
  3. Planning for theoretical and practical training of experts and operators of wastewater treatment plants.
  4. Planning to create communication networks between wastewater users through regional visits and communication site.
  5. Planning for research and development activities in the field of improving and upgrading wastewater treatment processes.
  6. Improving and improving the processes of wastewater collection and treatment

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Qualitative improvement of effluent from wastewater treatment plants
  2. Process optimization, reducing energy consumption and capacity building.
  3. Training of manpower in the countries of the region.


  • Proposed Establishment: Regional Cooperation on Non-Conventional Water Resources


Water and wastewater services are categorized as ‘essential services’, and therefore continuity of these services notwithstanding external disruptions is critical. Around 60% of the global population lives in areas of water stress where available supplies cannot sustainably meet demand for at least part of the year. Urbanization and economic growth in many countries, including the State of Qatar and I.R. Iran are two major factors contributing to an increase in urban water demand. Conventional water provisioning approaches that rely on precipitation, river runoff and easily accessible groundwater are overexploited and insufficient to meet growing freshwater demand.

These have highlighted the critical importance of non-conventional water resources to overcome water-related sustainable development challenges in arid regions. Utilizing non-conventional water resources is an emerging opportunity to narrow the water demand-supply gap.

Water utilities across the globe have reported following motivations to invest and develop non-conventional water resources:

  • Limiting the impacts of increasing water demand on the level of water and wastewater services delivered and ensuring business continuity.
  • Managing water scarcity and extreme hydrological events (e.g. drought) by steady supply of non-conventional water to urban water utilities
  • Non-conventional water resources provide opportunity for implementing the necessary climate change adaptation strategies and planning.
  • High potential of investment by private sectors and developing business with third parties (e.g. industry and municipalities), to become meaningful actors in the management process of non-conventional water development plan.
  • Non-conventional water is the only available water resources in some arid areas or areas difficult to access.

The Global Facility for Non-Conventional Water (GFNC) will be launched and hosted by the Regional Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM) to bring together relevant governmental officials, decision makers, researchers and experts, utility managers, technology and industry sectors as well as users to share their strategies, perspectives, experiences, innovations, best practices and lessons learned in non-conventional water resources development and operation.

Non-Conventional Water Resources

According to the latest report of UN Water on “Analytical Brief: Unconventional Water Resources” published in June 2020, there is a multitude of non-conventional water

resources that can be tapped. Non-conventional water resources range from Earth’s seabed to its upper atmosphere and capturing them needs a diverse range of technological interventions and innovations.

Harvesting water from the air consists of rain enhancement through cloud seeding and collection of water from fog, while capturing water on the ground addresses micro-scale capture of rainwater where it would otherwise evaporate; all these techniques address local water shortages. On the groundwater front, tapping offshore and onshore deep groundwater and extending sustainable extraction of undeveloped groundwater are important options in areas where there is potential for more groundwater resources. Reusing water is the key to water conservation and enhancement opportunities which lead to fit-for-purpose use of treated municipal wastewater and agricultural drainage water. Additional opportunities to develop water resources exist in the form of desalinated potable water.

Regional Cooperation on GFNC Pioneered by the State of Qatar and I.R. Iran

Vast areas of the countries located in the West and Central Asia are situated in the subtropical high-pressure belt region of the northern hemisphere, mostly covered by deserts, where the precipitation is low, and its distribution is highly variable. The area is water-stressed (inherently and due to higher water demand in growing economy and urban areas), societally vulnerable, and prone to severe water scarcity. Additionally, global warming will increase the risk of climate change and more prolonged droughts. Even in regions that may not experience a significant decline trend in rainfall, a higher temperature can increase water loss due to evaporation and scale up water consumption, putting greater stress on water supplies. In addition to the above-mentioned constraints, there is also an increasing trend of emerging pollutions and overwhelming health threats such as COVID-19.

In this regard, regional cooperation toward launching and supporting spread activities of Global Facility for Non-Conventional Water (GFNC) among RCUWM Governing Members is crucial to support technical and non-technical aspects of non-conventional water resources.

GFNC Objectives

  • Exchanging technical and non-technical experiences and information
  • Promoting research and innovation
  • Conducting training courses and capacity building activities
  • Improve non-conventional water management and governance
  • Contribution to UNESCO-IHP and other relevant international/regional organizations

Venue and Host

GFNC Secretariat will be established in the premises of the Regional Centre on Urban Water Management (RCUWM) based in Tehran with the capacity to develop satellite GFNC offices in member countries.

Thematic Areas of the Global Facility for Non-Conventional Water (GFNC)

  1. Governance, laws and policies, institutional arrangements
  2. Technology, innovation, and engineering
  3. Social and environmental considerations
  4. Operation and maintenance
  5. Economic, financial issues and trend analysis
  6. Training courses and capacity building
  7. Promotion of public awareness

Priority Areas: Desalinated Water and Water Reuse

Desalinated water is on a path to where it is likely to be the most acceptable alternative water supply source in the majority of arid and semi-arid regions in the world. The advancements in the reverse osmosis desalination technology are very dynamic. New but more efficient seawater desalination membranes and membrane technologies, and equipment improvements are released every few years. The reverse osmosis membranes of today are many times smaller, more productive, and cheaper than the first working prototypes. The steady reduction of desalinated water production costs is expected to accelerate the reliance on the desalinated water as attractive and competitive non-conventional water resources by 2030. The rate of adoption to desalination water will depend on the magnitude of water stress and availability and cost of the conventional water resources.

Municipal wastewater and agricultural drainage water are two main sources for water reuse and a non-conventional water resource. Private as well as public water companies need to explore opportunities to valorize the reuse of water and hence expand their variety of uses. This shift needs to be accompanied by analyzing demand and market opportunities as well as identifying feasible business models. Against this background, a challenge to be addressed is to explore financial and economic instruments to promote water reuse and make this an attractive option on water markets and beyond. In doing so, information on current costs of water reuse projects, tariffs and subsidy arrangements as well as the overall acceptance and issues of awareness rising should be further investigated.