Water Treatment

Worms & water fleas: a carbon-neutral alternative for treating wastewater

29th November 2019

Utility Scottish Water has started a demonstration project using water fleas, earthworms and microalgae as a carbon-neutral alternative method of treating wastewater. Called “lumbrifiltration”, the process is an alternative treatment method of organically polluted water, based on the vermifilter degradation of domestic water pollution by the association of earthworms Eisenia fetida and Eisenia andrei, and microorganisms (aerobic bacteria).

The 12-month pilot is part of the broader EU H2020 funded Innoqua development taking place in 11 countries designed to promote sustainable water sanitation technologies. One of the objectives of the project is to provide decentralised, ecological wastewater treatment for use in rural communities, as well as potentially being rolled out to industries such as agriculture and aquaculture.

A small rural community of Littlemill in Nairnshire was selected based on size, remote location and exposure to the Scottish climate to test the reliability and adaptability of the technology. Existing treatment will continue to be operated alongside the Innoqua trial, to ensure wastewater discharge limits continue are met.

“The technology we are trialling basically replicates a process which happens naturally within soil, but we are using it to clean wastewater,” said project manager Anna Baran from Scottish Water’s Research and Innovation Team.