For approximately ten years, the issue of micropollutants has been the subject of intensive discussion in the wastewater sector at national as well as international level. There is no doubt that wastewater treatment plants are considered one of the principal emitters of these substances into surface and underground water.
Our wastewater is polluted by a multitude of synthetic residues – from pharmaceutical products, household chemicals and cosmetic care products, dietary supplements and others. Thanks to further developed analytical methods, it is possible to identify these micropollutants in an increasingly differentiated way. Conventional technical wastewater treatment processes are not able to remove specific substances in a targeted way or often only to a small extent. Therefore, these substances enter the environment where they are degraded only very slowly or not at all. The effects of such micropollutants on and resulting interactions with ecosystems and organisms are currently not foreseeable. Therefore, along with awareness training in the community on this topic and based on the idea of prevention, the removal of micropollutants from wastewater is of crucial significance.
To date, various wastewater treatment plants in Baden-Wurttemberg have been retrofitted with an additional treatment stage for the removal of micropollutants based on the findings from investigations on a semi-industrial scale. In this context, activated carbon processes are currently employed for the removal of micropollutants, which are considered to be suitable processes for the removal of micropollutants from wastewater besides ozoning. The Kompetenzzentrum Spurenstoffe – KomS – Baden-Wurttemberg was established in April 2012 along with the first expansions of the wastewater treatment plants and in order to support the operators.
The KomS is a cooperation between three independent partners: The University of Stuttgart and Biberach University of Applied Sciences contribute their scientific competence and technical knowledge to the further development of the process technology as well as the documentation and assessment of measurement results. The Baden-Wurttemberg regional chapter of the DWA (DWA-BW) is responsible for the wide spectrum of communication, specialist events and excursions as well as advanced training within the neighbourhood.
The competence centre regards itself as being a platform for the transfer of knowledge and technology and for the exchange of experiences regarding the topic of ‘Micropollutants in wastewater and approaches to their removal’. We consider ourselves a point of contact across all levels: we communicate and collaborate with authorities and the industry in the same way as with engineering consultants or specialist personnel in treatment facilities. KomS provides the following services to municipalities and wastewater associations as facility operators:
- On-site consulting
- Process technical and scientific assistance
- Training of specialist and operating personnel
- Support with public relations
The neighbourhood concept is a major part of KomS’ work, which aims at the exchange of experience, networking and joint action. Thus, it is not without reason that it has proved its value with regard to the operation of wastewater treatment plants.
With regard to the removal of micropollutants, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg assumes a pioneering role and has attached major importance to the subject from the very beginning, also in the light of the related environmental-political dimension. Thus, in the past years, the Baden-Wurttemberg Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector funded various projects for the development of an additional treatment stage for the targeted removal of micropollutants from wastewater, in the total amount of more than ten million Euro. The Ministry has provided substantial development funds for the establishment of the Kompetenzzentrum Spurenstoffe Baden-Wurttemberg.
Being considered to be an ‘end-of-pipe’ technology, the removal of micropollutants from wastewater treatment plants alone will not be able to solve the problem of the increasing pollution of the environment caused by micropollutants – this objective requires interaction with more specific measures, such as the raising of awareness of the community, industry and consumers. KomS has assumed responsibility for the task of performing further research on the removal of micropollutants, optimising the process technical possibilities and accompanying and assisting with their implementation into the operation of wastewater treatment plants in the federal state.
Tasks and objectives of KomS
- Support operators of wastewater treatment plants with the introduction and supervision of technologies for the removal of micropollutants as well as their operational optimisation and performance monitoring.
- Establish and further develop processes for the removal of micropollutants.
- Transfer knowledge between all parties involved in the field of municipal wastewater treatment: Operators of wastewater treatment plants, authorities, engineering consultants, scientific expert groups as well as industry and specialist associations.
- Promote the technological implementation of removal processes.
- Clarify and raising of awareness on the topic of ‘micropollutants and their environmental impact’ based on scientific knowledge
Kompetenzzentrum Spurenstoffe (KomS) Baden-Wurttemberg
Kompetenzzentrum Spurenstoffe (KomS) Baden-Wurttemberg is dedicated to the build-up and transfer of knowledge regarding the subject of micropollutants and their removal from wastewater. In addition, it considers itself a platform for the exchange of information and experiences regarding the process-technical implementation. KomS is a cooperation between the University of Stuttgart, Biberach University of Applied Sciences and the Baden-Wurttemberg chapter of the DWA and is funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector of the federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg.
You can download the image flyer of the Kompetenzzentrum Spurenstoffe – KomS Baden-Wurttemberg here.