Water resources and water treatments

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Second semester
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This course offers the “Book exam" option - The lectures are held in Italian, but Erasmus/foreign students can complete the course by choosing the “book exam” option.
This means that students can access and use the literature specifically selected for them in agreement with the course program. Furthermore, they are invited to participate in meetings with the teacher to pose questions, ask for clarification and discuss the main topics. All the documents, meetings and exam are in English.

Learning outcomes of the course unit

This course is offered for the free students' choice with the goal of completing the training on water resources, treatment and reuse of wastewater. The specific objectives are:
- to identify and evaluate the pollutant sources and loads from the main human activities,
- to identify the most suitable technique for wastewater processing,
- to identify and handle the main parameters for managing treatment plants,
All objectives contribute to the formation of skills and operational abilities.


Background in ecology, microbiology, inorganic and organic chemistry

Course contents summary

This course is mainly technical and composes of four sections.
The first presents a summary of the main tipology of water supply, with reference to water availability and quality, and uses.
The main pollution sources and how to evaluate the pollutant loads are then presented.
The second part deals with the main wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) tipologies, with emphasis on the activated sludge, In addition, other WWTP typologies are synthetically presented, i.e. trickling filter, biodisk, and sequential batch reactors.
The third section presents extensive treatment plants, based on constructed wetlands. The focus is mainly on the subsurface water flow typology.
The fourth part consist in the visit and activities at the Parma West WWTP (activated sludge with denitrification) and at the wetland system of the dairy farm S. Vittoria (Carpaneto, PC).

Course contents

WATER FOR IRRIGATION - Classification criteria; chemical quality in relation to crops. Effects of land use and irrigation on water quality.
DRINKING WATER: qualitative characteristics; chemical-based classification. Reference standard. Supply sources: main types; effect of source on quality. Individual consumption. Potabilization treatments (outline)
WASTEWATERS. Polluting activities and sources, and pollution typologies with reference to organic matter, phosphorus and nitrogen. Equivalent inhabitant. Coefficient based on BOD, N and P. Calculation of potential and real loads (outline). The effects of pollution on surface and groundwater. The short circuit of the water cycle. EU directives, national and regional legislation (outline).

Presentation of the main mechanical, physical, chemical-physical, biological processes. Presentation of a standard layout of a wastewater treatment plants.
BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT WITH ACTIVATED SLUDGE. Components and biological structure: bacteria and microbial processes, ciliated protozoa. Main reactions. Tertiary treatments. Nitrification-denitrification coupling; pre- and post-denitrification. Phosphorus removal and recycling: chemical and biological methods. Parameters and criteria for managing a WWTP.
BIOFILM BASED SYSTEMS: biodiscs (biological rotors) and trickling filters
Other treatment systems: sequential batch reactors (SBRs); Imhoff tanks.
Treatment and reuse of activated sludge. Reuse of treated wastewaters.

BIOLOGICAL PONDS: aerobic, facultative and anaerobic.
PHYTODEPURATION. Surface and sub-surface flow plants. Main types of macrophytes. Constructed wetlands with horizontal and vertical sub-surface flow. Biological components: interactionsbetween macrophytes and microbial communities. Management criteria and plant designing.
Other applications based on the exploitation of natural solutions to take up the diffuse loadings: wetlands, channels and minor hydrographic network, buffer strips.

1) Visit at the Parma Ovest wastewater treatment plant, meeting and discussion with the technicians who manage the plant.
2) Visit at the constructed wetland plant of the dairy farm “S. Vittoria "(Carpaneto, PC). During the visit, the production process and the actions taken to save water and reduce emissions are also presented.

Recommended readings

Theacher notes and slides.
The following books are also available in the library of the Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, della Vita e della Sostenibilità Ambientale, University of Parma.
- Madoni P., 2005. Biological processes in activated sludges. ENIA, RE (in Italian).
- Romagnolli F., 2013. Phytodepuration. Sustainable management of waters. Dario Flaccovio, Palermo (in Italian).

Teaching methods

Lectures on the main wastewater treatment techniques (60%).
Visit and activities in two types of WWTP (40%)

However, how the educational activities are carried out will depend on the evolution of the safety condition. In the best case scenario, the course will be organized according to the above-exposed scheme. In case it is not possible to carry out lessons in attendance, remote lessons will be carried out in streaming mode (via Teams) with lesson registration and the release of the url to the students.
Field work and excursions will be maintained, as these activities are carried out in the field/open space, where the safety conditions in place can be guaranteed.

Assessment methods and criteria

At the end of the course students acquired skills that enable them to identify the main contaminants of water and to select the most appropriate treatment technique.
The final exam consists of a written test with 10 questions, of which 5 are open-ended and 5 are closed-ended. The maximum score is 35. The exam is passed with 18. Praise is conferred with score > 32.

In the case of health restrictions, the written examination will be maintained and carried out in small groups in a classroom large enough to allow safe conditions, in accordance with the requirements in force.