LIFE+REGROW Project aims to regenerate a rural brownfield (olive mill wastewaters-OMW abandoned ponds) by applying different in situ biorecovering strategies (bioremediation and phytoremediation) for site decontamination and reclamating the area to grow a green multifunctional infrastructure for educational, recreational and awareness purposes. In doing so, it will primarily contribute to mitigate soil sealing by restoring contaminated soils and to reduce contamination by recycling organic wastes for the remedial operations.
REGROW has a replicable purpose with a clearly focus on integrating circular economy to solve environmental problems. Moreover, the project aims to validate a cost-effective methodology and technically feasible solutions with positive effect on the affected area. REGROW targets attention on 5 ha of OMW abandoned ponds in Mora (Spain) that will be used as a demonstrative approach with the focus on its adaptation for similar locations in olive related regions. Consequently, the transfer and dissemination actions are also key aspects of this project.
The environmental problem targeted, which appears to be more common than previously expected, is caused by the inadequate management or uncontrolled disposal of OMW and is related to the construction of evaporation ponds, which rarely met engineering criteria for stability and safe accommodation of liquid wastes or the disposal on agriculture soil without properly criteria. The lack of isolation, breakage of ponds or improper soils applications are the subject of complaints because these residues from olive oil industry constitute a negative impact due to its potential pollution risk (high organic load, and polyphenol content with phytotoxic and antimicrobial properties). It is likely the major environmental issue to which the olive oil industry should face and the need of a properly disposal of these by-products is a serious concern for the olive oil producers and public authorities, as the main stakeholders.
Upon project completation, the REGROW-ECOPARK will be constructed as a green multifunctional space in an area of 39,000 m2 contaminated soil occupied by OMW ponds in which 2,400m2 area of soil (equivalent to 7200 soil tons) will be decontaminated by biorecovering strategies, 1,200 m2 will be re-vegetated by arbustive and Mediterranean species and the area will be provided with 3600 m2 of recreational-educational services with artificial wetland, birdwatching area and 600 m of educational tracks.
Therefore, LIFE+REGROW project could be displayed as a European good practice of the bio-based Circular Economy from Castilla-La Mancha, which will also provide a guide describing the best applicable biorecovering strategies for reclamation OMW ponds and a decision support system application to select the cost-effective and the best adapted techniques to solve similar environmental problems.
Project web page: www.liferegrow.eu