AQUAENVEC - Assessment and improvement of the urban water cycle eco-efficiency using LCA and LCC

LIFE10 ENV/ES/000520

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Desirée MARIN
Tel: +34 933124121
Fax: +34933124801
Email: dmarin@cetaqua.com

Project description:


Urban water activities - extraction, waste water treatment, drinking water treatment, transport and distribution etc. - are essential to ensure both a reliable supply of drinking water and compliance with quality regulations when discharging water to water bodies. However, all the processes involved in the urban water cycle also have environmental impacts, as they consume electricity and chemicals and generate waste.

There is, therefore, a need to improve understanding of the existing balance between the environmental and health benefits of the different activities of the urban water cycle with their environmental impact. A life-cycle approach is needed to ensure that the overall environmental cost-benefit of urban water activities is positive.

But it is not sufficient to consider just one environmental indicator, such as the carbon footprint, over the life cycle. Environmental performance assessments should include all the significant impacts related to the activities involved throughout the urban water system. This knowledge will help decision making to assess, for example, whether it is worth improving water quality at the expense of increasing the consumption of energy and chemicals.


The main objective of the project is to provide decision-making tools to optimise eco-efficiency in the urban water cycle, through environmental and economic life-cycle analysis (LCA). It thus seeks to provide for more sustainable management of the urban water cycle.

The project will work to assess all the major environmental impacts of the life cycle of urban water systems, including on: global warming; terrestrial and water toxicity; eutrophication; acidification; and depletion of resources. It will also assess the potential to reduce these impacts. It will also assess the economic impact of the different operations, in terms of operating costs, capital costs and other indirect costs throughout the life-cycle, and identify possible cost savings.

To support life-cycle assessment by non-experts, the team will define appropriate indicators to monitor and evaluate environmental and economic efficiency and a user-friendly support tool. This will enable policy makers and public and private water managers to make better decisions and produce overall eco-efficiency gains.

The tool will be demonstrated in two case studies in Mediterranean and Atlantic locations and validated with additional case studies from stakeholders to obtain a generic tool applicable to any city. The project expects to show that by measuring the life-cycle impact of the urban water cycle, the tool will help to identify the most cost-effective processes and technologies, with the least environmental impact, and promote the sustainable use of natural resources and the reuse of end-products such as sludge and wastewater.

Expected results:

    • A demonstrated common methodology for assessing the eco-efficiency of the urban water life cycle, including quantifiable indicators;
    • A user-friendly tool for non-expert life-cycle eco-efficiency assessments;
    • A life-cycle inventory database for urban water cycles;
    • Recommendations of case-specific best practices to improve the eco-efficiency of urban water systems in small-medium cities.



Environmental issues addressed:


Water - Waste water treatment


indicator‚  life-cycle management‚  urban wastewater‚  decision making support‚  waste water treatment

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Centro Tecnológico del Agua, Fundación Privada
Type of organisation Research institution
Description CETAQUA is a non-profit research, technological development and innovation centre, with a specific focus on water, particularly the complete urban water cycle.
Partners Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain Universitat de València, Spain


Project reference LIFE10 ENV/ES/000520
Duration 01-JAN-2012 to 31-MAY -2014
Total budget 1,594,413.00 €
EU contribution 789,456.00 €
Project location Galicia(España),Cataluña(España),Comunidad Valenciana(España)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version