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PRIMA call for proposal: Management of Water 2018

Section 1 - Call for Proposals for the Thematic Area: Water Management 

Topic: Water reuse and water desalination for agricultural and food production

PRIMA-IS is launching a call for research and innovation (RIA) proposals to mobilize the Euro-Mediterranean scientific communities, stakeholders and private entities and to support a wide range of research and innovation projects expected to produce a socio-economic impact in the near future.

Thematic Area: Management of water

Topic: Water reuse and water desalination for agricultural and food production

Type of action: Research and Innovation Action (RIA)

Total indicative amount allocated to this call:   EUR 6.1 million

Opening date: 6 February 2018

Deadline:  Stage 1 Pre-proposals - 17th April, 2018 (17:00h CET)  / Stage 2 Full proposals - 15th September, 2018 (17:00h CET)



In a scenario where the fresh water available for agriculture and food processing industries is not enough to cover the current demand and additional gains in the water use efficiency are difficult to achieve, reusing water for multiple purposes is a possible solution. The challenge, in this sense, is to provide endusers with new more economically feasible water treatment technologies, taking into account the main environmental,socio-economic and legal and/or institutional constraints regulating the adoption of these technologies.


The reuse of wastewater is one of the main options available for water-supply decision-makers in the field of a sustainable water and soil management, of agri-food chain production and agriculture. However, in the Mediterranean, water reuse faces numerous barriers. Among them, regulatory, safety risks, economic including energy concerns and social acceptance can be currently defined as the main barriers considering that

  1. safety risks (environment, human health) have been linked to the use of improperly treated wastewater;
  2. treatment costs particularly linked to the energy and
  3. public acceptance of reclaimed water varied according to its potential use.

In addition, in the Mediterranean area treated wastewaters usually have the drawback of their salinity levels, which might limit the mid, long-term crop productivity. As a consequence, energy-efficient desalinization and other treatments, comprising technological and nature-based solutions (NBS), should be developed for treating both wastewater from municipal and industrial use. The seawater desanilization is an important source of water resources in certain areas of the Mediterranean region. Issues regarding the disposal and treatment of brines after seawater or wastewater treatment should be considered to ensure a low impact of water treatment on the environment, or in the fishery practices. On the other hand, treated wastewater can be also a source of nutrients, particularly for crop production, which should be better valorised and wastewater treatment technologies able to selectively maintain important macro-nutrients should be promoted. Innovative technologies, including those based on bioengineering and advanced materials such as nano-materials, and techniques like NBS and ecosystem-based approaches, may be developed to increase energy efficiency  reduce pollutants loads including pathogens and emergent pollutants (i.e. pharmaceutical residues), in order to produce water of appropriate quality regarding the uses. For irrigation, appropriate practices and techniques should also promoted to ensure good water reuse applications conditions at field level, to avoid clogging of drip irrigation systems and soil degradation. In addition, wastewater treatment techniques have to be developed not only for a direct reuse of water for agriculture, but also for an indirect use, considering hybrid approach including aquifer storage recovery. The recharge of reclaimed water into the subsoil can be considered as an additional treatment, reducing the cost and energy needs. Recharge into coastal aquifers may be considered as a hydraulic barrier against salt water intrusion. Finally, multidisciplinary studies should be enriched by analysing the economic and environmental suitability of the current implementation of the system, taking also into account the agronomic and food processing validation needed for its implementation, as well as the public acceptance. Under this proposed multi-actor approach, different type of entities should be involved in the proposals; industrial entities (including SMEs) should play an important role, having a great potential for further replication and market uptake of the solutions developed. Innovative development of circular economy (i.e. zero waste concept, nutrients reuse) could also be proposed in the field of agro food chain production, considering the recycling of production water, in terms of quantity and quality.

Expected impact

Depending on the specific approach to be defined by the submitted proposal, some of the specific expected impacts should be achieved:  Increasing the quantity, quality and safety of non-conventional water use for agriculture and food processing (direct use and indirect use of reclaimed water, i.e. artificial recharge, aquifer storage recovery approach)  Increasing the efficiency of water management systems with particular regard to energy and water smart infrastructures  Decreasing the cost of treating wastewater and, particularly, desalination by using more energyefficient processes  Obtaining socio-economic, environmental (soil conservation and nutrient pollution in particular) and technical information to influence Mediterranean countries policies in terms of wastewater use  Deriving new solutions for brine disposal considering a holistic approach for desalination water

Please find more details on PRIMA initiative, this call, guidelines for applicants, application submission here.

For questions related to this call for proposals, please contact Fabrice Dentressangle at fabrice.dentressangle@prima-med.org or +34 93 401 18 41.

Tuesday, 17 April, 2018