Contributing to the Transition from Linear to Circular Urban Water Management

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

This Europa Policy Lab is supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

The ‘cradle to cradle’ economic model for resource use and management provides many more opportunities for sustainable development than the current ‘cradle to grave’ economic model. However, there are a number of challenges associated with this otherwise noble concept, and more research is needed in many domains from conceptualisation to full practical implementation.

This Erasmus+ Europa Policy Lab will present findings from research projects exploring different aspects of the transition from linear to circular urban water management, including on:

- the re-use of treated effluent in relation to requirements of two EU directives, demonstrated through an approach based on a ‘Grey Water Footprint’ for reaching compliance with both directives; and
- the recovery of phosphorus—an element of the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials list—from wastewater treatment plants, demonstrated through the use of new algae-based technology with other usable end products.

The presentation will also provide a summary of policy challenges and recommendations for enabling faster transition to circular economy models in urban water management.

Professor Irina Ribarova holds a PhD from the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Goedesy in Sofia, Bulgaria, and has over 20 years of professional experience in university teaching, research and consultancy in the water sector. She has worked in numerous EU-funded projects as a research and project manager for removal of hazardous compounds from wastewaters and sludge; biological processes modeling (in waste water treatment plants [WWTPs] and rivers); water saving technologies (industrial and domestic); flood and drought management; nutrients (N and P) removal and recovery in WWTP; eco-efficiency of urban water systems; and the circular economy in the water sector. As a consultant, Professor Ribarova has had assignments from SHER, PM, Aecom, Ramboll, Grontmij and the World Bank. She has provided support to the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works in major project preparation and appraisal. She was a European Commission Expert evaluating and monitoring projects in the EU Commission, including water, floods, waste management, environment protection, education, SMEs, and preparation of action plans for Structural Fund absorption.