About the author

Name and title(s): 

Juan M. Lema. Professor of Chemical Engineering. Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Areas of expertise:

Micropollutants removal from wastewater; Anaerobic (co) Digestion; Biorefinery.

Juan M. Lema is co-editor of the forthcoming book Innovative Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Technologies.



This year, the UN’s World Water Day is dedicated to topics in wastewater. What do you think/hope this will achieve?

A major objective would be to raise awareness of Society about the importance of considering wastewater as a resource for water reclamation and resource recovery.

Why is the topic of wastewater important?

The first and more obvious is a sanitary issue. It is crucial to provide a suitable treatment to preserve health. But also it is important to realise that wastewater could be a raw material for water, chemicals and energy.

What do you think is the most significant change or development in wastewater research/treatment in recent years?

In the last decade a number of efficient technologies have been developed:  i) to save space (e.g aerobic granular sludge reactors); ii) to save energy (anammox-based processes); iii) to recover chemicals (nutrients, phosphate as struvite, bioplastics, alginate...); iv) to produce energy (efficient co-digestion); v) to recover water of sufficient quality (e.g. MBR technologies + post treatment units). Besides these there are a number of disruptive technologies or processes under development (Biolectrochemical systems, Algae-based processes, anammox-based technologies for direct wastewater treatment, Ion-exchange technologies) that could be the basis for new conceptions of wastewater systems.

How might you suggest people get involved and/or learn more about the significance of wastewater?

Showing some examples/figures about several possibilities of resource recovery, integrating wastewater into the concept of “circular economy”.


To learn more about World Water Day, visit the website.

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