LIFE Impetus - "Improving current barriers for controlling pharmaceutical compounds in urban wastewater treatment plants"

EC contribution: € 1492452
Partners: 7
Start date: 1 January 2016
Duration: 42 months
Project website:

2016 brought to LIFE the project IMPETUS “Improving current barriers for controlling pharmaceutical compounds in urban wastewater treatment plants” (LIFE14 ENV/PT/000739), one of the six Portuguese projects co-funded by the European Commission under the 2014 call of LIFE Environment programme.
LIFE IMPETUS aims at demonstrating measures for improving the removal of pharmaceutical compounds (PhCs) in urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with conventional activated sludge (CAS) treatment. As CAS is the most common biological process in urban WWTPs, the solutions may be easily transferred to wastewater treatment across Europe. A complementary objective is to produce valuable knowledge for water resource protection from PhCs and associated environmental policy. This includes PhC occurrence and concentration, control in WWTPs, bacterial antibiotic resistance and PhC bioaccumulation in clams, a key product in many local economies in the Algarve and elsewhere in Europe.

The expected results are:

  • Innovation in methods/practices for improved PhC removal in two CAS aeration regimes
  • A low-cost investment and easy-to-implement solution for improving PhC removal in WWTPs, while keeping operating costs to a minimum and maximising recovery of resources and energy efficiency
  • Operating strategies identified using benchmarking tools (performance indicators and indices) to deliver overall good WWTPs’ performance with respect to water quality, energy and chemicals efficiency
  • Chemical enhancement strategies using eco-friendly adsorbents and natural coagulants
  • Development and validation of a procedure for PhC analysis in biological samples (clams)
  • Data on PhC occurrence in urban wastewaters (~ 850 samples analysed for 24 PhCs) to assist future developments of EU policy and legislation on PhCs in urban wastewater
  • Monitoring of PhC accumulation in clams (~ 150 samples analysed for 24 PhCs)
  • PhC analytical monitoring capacity-building of the consortium and the water sector
  • Cost-benefit analysis using an innovative integrated approach
  • Replicability and transferability strategy

Led by LNEC – National Civil Engineering Laboratory, LIFE Impetus has 7 Associated Beneficiaries: 3 from academia - University of Algarve, Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of Sciences of Lisbon University; 3 water utilities - Águas do Algarve, Águas do Tejo Atlântico and EPAL and 1 SME, EHS - Environment and Regional Development Consulting.
Alexandra Cravo is the CIMA researcher involved in LIFE IMPETUS project.