- Project Context
- Objetives
- Planed Actions and Means

- Scentific Follow-Up
- Expected Results

-Course Report




Wastewater treatment in the Spanish Mediterranean basin is still deficient. The Segura watershed is the most serious example of this situation, especially the Segura, Guadalentín and Mula rivers.

Part of the problem, which is common to most of Spain, is the lack of urban wastewater treatment and poor operation of existing treatment plants. In the Segura river basin, only 87 out of the 207 water treatment plants perform properly, two have been abandoned, 59 are inoperative, and 59 function deficiently. Carboneras (Province of Almería) is another example of the poor operation of existent wastewater treatment plants, with serious problems of odour, poor energy efficiency, and excessive maintenance costs. In addition, there are many isolated population centres (pedanías, or small population centres dependent on larger population centres) that have sewage lines, but are too far from other population centres for a network of common collectors.

The case of Lorca (Murcia Autonomic Community) is one of the best examples of this problem. One of the largest municipalities in Spain (1676 km2), half of its population, approximately 35000 inhabitants, live in dispersed population centres, in thousands of single-family houses disseminated throughout the so-called “Huerta de Lorca” (vegetable farming area). This population structure makes it very difficult to lay sewer lines and treat wastewater for the entire community.

Finally, another major problem that has not yet been solved in a cost-effective way is purine treatment. The municipality of Lorca is once again a good worksite because it has 1100 pig farms for meat production and breeding. These farms are dispersed and cause serious environmental problems due to the lack of adequate purine treatment. They range in size from family farms with 8 to 10 breed sows or 100 stalls for fattening, to highly industrialised and intensified farms with almost 2000 breed sows or 9000 fattening stalls.



1. Demonstration of the effectiveness of an innovative water treatment system using floating macrophyte filters . The novelty of the system is that it converts naturally emergent rooted macrophytes into floating macrophytes. In previous experimental work, the water treatment capacity of floating macrophyte filters has been shown to be higher than that of green filters that use naturally rooted or floating plant species.

2. Promotion of these new systems in the Mediterranean region, where the lack of a winter vegetative rest favours plant activity and makes floating macrophyte filters especially suitable for centres of tourism, which are sometimes located far from urban centres and have a large population in summer, when filter activity is maximum.

3. Promotion of new water treatment systems suitable for small communities and different sectors (urban areas, livestock farms, and industries) that have a low cost of execution and maintenance.



Creation of 7 different floating macrophyte filters prototypes for different sectors. Seven floating macrophyte filters prototypes will be developed in southeast Spain to demonstrate the usefulness of the floating macrophyte filters technique in different sectors and effluent conditions (slurries and urban sewage).

- Three floating macrophyte filters in small isolated population centres located more than 20 km from the central urban area in the municipality of Lorca (Murcia): Doña Inés (149 inhabitants), Avilés (394 inhabitants), and Coy (501 inhabitants).

- Two floating macrophyte filters in 2 single-family homes and 1 floating macrophyte filters in an Interpretation Centre in the municipality of Lorca.

- One floating macrophyte filters in a pig farm in the municipal area of Lorca (Murcia) as a prototype for purine treatment using this system (farms with breed sows and fattening stalls).


- Preparation of a manual on the construction and management of floating macrophyte filters.

- Development of a 25-hour course on floating macrophyte filters for business technicians, local authorities, and public administration, two information sessions for the local community, and an International Congress for specialists.

- Eighteen display panels and a video, CD-ROM, and website.


During the period of the project:

- Elimination of pollution caused by wastewater in three population centres and two pig farms.

- Reuse of high-quality water in a region where water is scarce.

- Reduction or elimination of odours from untreated wastewater and from water treatment plants function poorly.


- Reduction of ground and surface water pollution due to filtration from the septic tanks of thousands of single-family houses and effluents of small population centres isolated from urban centres. (Half of the population of Lorca, 35,000 inhabitants, live outside the urban centre and the district has 1100 pig farms). Implantation of the system in other regions in southeast Spain.

- Reduction of the impact on landscapes of effluents and large water treatment plants.

- Reduction of health risks due to effluents.

- Production of a large amount of high-quality water and plant biomass harvested from the filters that can be used in gardens and intensive agriculture.


The seven filters planned for in the project have been built and planted: two filters in single-family homes in Cazalla township, one filter in the “Cortijo de la Tortuga Mora”, located inside the Biological Reserve owned by the Fundación Global Nature, between the townships of La Escucha and Purias, and three filters in the small population centres of Avilés, Coy, and Doña Inés. The filter for the pig farm was built in November 2004 in the cultivation which Society Cooperative GAMUR (Farmers of Murcia) has in Lorca.

In relation to divulgation activities, a course on floating macrophyte filters was given in Lorca on 19-23 July 2004. The information brochure has been published in English and Spanish and eighteen information panels have been installed, the informative video about the project has been finished.

The International Meeting on Phytodepuration in Lorca, Murcia was celebrated on 20th – 23rd July 2005. This Meeting has gathered more than a hundred of researchers from seventeen differents countries, who exchanged experiences related to Phytodepuration

It has already been published the manual on floating macrophyte filter systems .


o Design and calculation of floating macrophyte filter systems.
o Prototype construction and planting.
o Maintenance of prototypes.
o Information tasks and awareness raising.
o General coordination.






The first steps in prototype development were the topographic study of the plots where filters were to be installed, drafting the plan for each site, and analysing the effluents to be treated in order to calculate the size of each filter. Afterwards, the construction projects of each were written up and drafted


The company “Hnos. González Lucas, S.A.” was contracted to construct the filters. They worked following the technical specifications and instructions of the School of Agricultural Engineering, under the coordination of the Fundación Global


In autumn 2002, the School of Agricultural Engineering of Madrid planted the plants for the filters. They were allowed to grow during spring and summer of 2003, and then were transplanted to the filter canals in June 2004. The plantation had a high density, 18-19 plants/m2, to ensure prompt surface covering.
The plantation of flotating macrophytes filter has been carried out from the School of Agricultural Engineering of Madrid under the management of the Head of Departament, Jesús Fernández.


Since April 2004, an operator has been in charge of maintenance tasks for the green filters.



The Agroenergy Group of the Departement of Vegetal Production: Botany and Vegetal Protection, from the School of Agricultural Engineering of Madrid has
carried out the next laboratory samples.

“Informe Analisis UPM.doc”


1.1.Previous analysis
1.2. Values to waste water’s parameters of the filters at the initial stage of the plantation of 2004





The project and construction of each flotating macrophytes filter had their own particular features:

Pedanía de Avilés flotating macrophytes filter

There was already an old water treatment station in this small population centre. It was small and falling into disuse, and only made primary treatment of effluent from Avilés. The flotating macrophytes filter construction supervisors in Avilés decided that the water treatment station would continue to provide primary treatment of wastewater and the resulting effluent would be pumped to the entrance of the flotating macrophytes filter channels.

Prior to the plantation and flooding of the channels, the settling pond had to be cleaned and the water pump of the treatment plant was repaired. Aguas de Lorca, owner of the treatment plant, is in charge of plant management and cleaning the settling pond and repairing the water pump.

The construction of Pedanía of Avilés’ Filter has just finalised and it is already into operation.

Pedanía de Coy flotating macrophytes filter

Flotating macrophytes filter construction started in November 2003. At the same time that the filter was built, a project was made to bring water from Coy to the flotating macrophytes filter. The company Aguas de Lorca repaired the sewage lines and installed a new wastewater collector to channel water to the flotating macrophytes filter.

A primary decanter-digestor was installed at the entrance to the filter in Coy, channels are finished and planted, and the project for bringing water from Coy has been completed.
The construction of Pedanía of Coy’s Filter has just finalised and it is already into operation.

Pedanía de Doña Inés flotating macrophytes filter

Flotating macrophytes filter construction started at the end of November 2003 and it’s finished. It includes a small equipped with a solar photovoltaic installation for pumping wastewater to the channel that feeds into the FMF.

Residential flotating macrophytes filter

The owners of two single-family homes in the Pedanía de Cazalla dedicated part of their land to the construction of a flotating macrophytes filter.

Both flotating macrophytes filter have been built, planted, and are functioning.

Flotating macrophytes filter in pig farms

The two flotating macrophytes filter planned for pig farms were combined finally into a single, larger FLOTATING MACROPHYTES FILTER to maximize the cost-benefit relation of the economic investment. After discussing the project with several parties, it was decided to install the flotating macrophytes filter on the farm owned by the cooperative Sociedad Cooperativa GAMUR (Ganaderos de Murcia) in Lorca, where 21,000 suckling pigs are fattened each year.

Execution of the flotating macrophytes filter on this pig farm has important advantages:

- All the farmers belonging to the cooperative will be able to treat their purines, as well as non-members who have problems of purine treatment or elimination.

- There is enough land available to increase treatment capacity and the number of channels in the future, making it possible to increase the number of fattening stalls on the farm and to admit effluents from other farmers for treatment.

Due to the fact that the GAMUR cooperative belongs to the Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives of Murcia (FECOAM), this experience has potential for replication in other cooperatives or pig farms.

Finally, GAMUR agreed to build a filter for a single wing of the farm (a small section like breed sows), so that a smaller amount of purines can be pre-treated using a simple precipitation system (thus diminishing the pollution load entering the system, which can kill filter plants) and the load entering the system can be diluted with treated water produced by the filter itself.





In addition to more routine project presentations, the following actions have been taken:

Press conference on 17 October 2002 at the City Council of Lorca, marking the initiation of the project. Representatives of local and regional press and television media attended the press conference. A spokesperson for each project partner presented their respective area: Mr. Miguel Navarro, Mayor of Lorca, Mr. Jesús Fernández, Professor of Plant Production of the School of Agricultural Engineering, and Mr. Eduardo de Miguel, Director of Fundación Global Nature.

The project was submitted to the Water Action Contest, at the 3rd World Water Forum, held in Kyoto in March 2003. One of the first achievements of the project was to be selected by the Selection Committee from 850 projects that were submitted. Only 150 projects reached the final phase, one of them the “Macrophytes” LIFE project, whose candidacy was prepared by the Fundación Global Nature. The project did not win an award, but participation in the 3rd World Water Forum allowed us to present the project in a conference and to display an information panel at the Forum.

The project was also presented at the XXXVI National Week of Pig Livestock (SEPOR ’03) held on 15-18 September 2003.

Information brochure about the project

The PDF version of the brochure prepared in 2002 can be downloaded from this website. Five thousand two hundred copies were printed in Spanish and English.

Folleto en Inglés


The project includes the preparation of a video describing the actions executed throughout the project, in addition to the operation of filters functioning at the airports of Madrid-Barajas and Alicante, as well as the FLOTATING MACROPHYTES FILTER constructed near Laguna Larga in Villacañas (Toledo).


The two information panels included in the project have been designed (9 sets of two panels for the filters and one panel for the Lorca City Council).



A course on floating macrophyte filters was held in Lorca on 19-23 July 2004. Thirty-two people attended this course, including students, business-people, and public water technicians.

Information brochure on the course-PDF version.

Information sessions

Although numerous contacts have been made with residents of the pedanías (small population centres dependent on larger population centres) where the projects are located, two information sessions with local communities are planned. The first information session was scheduled for November 2004, when work on the Flotating macrophytes filter was completed.



LORCA (MURCIA), 19-23 JULY 2004

The Flotating macrophytes filter system for treating wastewater is based on emergent macrophytes, such as Typha, Scirpus, Iris or Sparganium, that are converted into floating macrophytes to increase their depuration capacity. This “soft” system can reduce or eliminate the main pollutants in the wastewater that circulates through roots. This system can be used directly to process urban wastewater and, with adequate pre-treatment, effluents from agroindustry and livestock farms.

This course provided attendees with technical training for the application of this treatment system, which is a sustainable, environmentally friendly water treatment alternative with low installation and maintenance costs.




- Inform attendees about the problems of wastewater in the Segura river basin
- Study the methodology, characterisation, and pre-treatment of wastewater in terms of its chemical, physical, and biological parameters
- Description of existing wastewater treatment systems
- Analyse conventional low-energy use systems and soft systems for the pre-treatment of wastewater in small communities and livestock farms
- Analyse in detail the use of Floating Macrophyte Filter systems for treating wastewater
- Debate on current wastewater treatment problems specific to food-processing industries


Technical personnel from wastewater treatment businesses, local authorities, autonomic and national authorities directly implicated in to water issues, and university students from scientific and technical programs.


The course provided a complete overview of floating macrophyte filter systems and aspects of wastewater treatment. Due to the range of materials examined, our aim was not an analysis in depth, but a general overview to acquaint attendees with the field and to orient them in developing afterwards their particular interests.

In relation to the technical training information, there have been some deficiencies in the design of Floating Macrophyte Filter systems.

As for the professional skills acquired by attendees, this course allowed them to increase their knowledge about soft treatment systems for wastewater and about floating macrophyte filter systems as innovative, low-cost, environmentally-friendly systems for wastewater treatment in small municipalities, livestock farms, and single-family homes.


In general terms, course development was satisfactory, meeting course objectives and satisfying the expectations of attendees and the coordinator.




Complete Program

Call for papers

Oral and poster presentations are welcome.

The submission deadline for abstracts is 15 February 2005.

The due date for manuscripts of accepted contributions is 16 May 2005.

Please address enquiries and send abstracts by e-mail to Vanessa Sánchez: vsanchez@fundacionglobalnature.org

The official languages of the meeting are English and Spanish.

Calendar for the submission of abstracts

Scientific presentations at the Meeting must be oral or posters.


15-02-05 Reception of abstracts.

15-03-05 Notification of acceptance of the presentations and the assigned type of presentation. Sending of the guidelines for the ellaboration of the texts of the presentations.

16-05-05 Reception of complete texts of the presentations.

15-06-05 Registration of participants (Unless the maximum number of participants is reached before the deadline).

Guidelines for the submission of abstracts

- The name of the autor in charge of performing the presentation should be marked with (*) in the abstract.

- Abstracts might be submitted in English or Spanish by filling in the attached submission form (Annex 3).

- The maximum extent is one page (Din A-4). It is advisable to use the font Times New Roman Normal 12 pt. Single space.

- 2 more pages could be added in order to provide additional information, graphs and/or figures.

- Abstracts must be sent using the attached form, in which the autor should specify his/her preference among the following thematic areas:
o Natural Wetlands.
o Surface Flow Systems.
o Subsurface Flow Systems.
o Floating Systems.

- The preference of the author/s in relation to the type of presentation (oral or poster) should be indicated in the submission form.

Address and method of sending the asbtract

A) By post
Vanessa Sánchez Ortega.
Fundación Global Nature.
C/ Capitán Haya, 23. Escalera 2ª.Piso 9º. Puerta 2. E
28020 Madrid. Spain.

B) By e-mail: vsanchez@fundacionglobalnature.org
The reception of abstracts will be notified to the authors.

Meeting Organising Committee

J. Fernández González
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Agrónomos de Madrid

S. Cirujano Bracamonte
Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas

E. de Miguel Beascoechea
Fundación Global Nature

M. D. Millán Sánchez-Jáuregui
Ayuntamiento de Lorca

Registration fees

No registration fee required. Proceedings, field trip, guided tour and coffee breaks are free of cost to participants. Transportation, accommodations and dinners are not covered by the Meeting organisation.

Scope of the meeting

This International Meeting is part of the divulgation activities included in the LIFE-Environment project "New Floating Macrophyte Green Filters for the Mediterranean Region."

Construction and operating costs of conventional water treatment systems often are cost-prohibitive. Many conventional treatment plants in rural communities and small towns are neglected soon after inauguration because of high operating costs and difficult maintenance. Green filters are an economic and easy solution that are notably elastic, usually have low environmental impact, and may even produce large amounts of biomass, which, together with low energy consumption, contributes to reducing global warming.

The objective of the meeting is to exchange the latest knowledge about low purification capacity, effectiveness, management and maintenance costs of green filters and other water treatment systems using different plant species.


The conference will take place at the Centro Cultural, c/ Presbítero E. García Navarro, Lorca (Murcia)

Lorca is located in southeast Spain and is a centre for highly developed agricultural and industrial activities. It also offers opportunities to enjoy art and culture as it has some of the most important historical sites in Murcia.

Alicante International airport is located 120 km from Lorca. Connections with the Madrid airport are possible through Murcia airport, 80 km away. Local trains run between Lorca, Alicante and Murcia every hour. Five daily trains connect Madrid and Murcia.

Hotel accommodations

Jardines de Lorca ****
+34 968 470 599
Alameda Rafael Méndez, s/n

Alameda ***
+34 968 406 600
Musso Valiente, 8

Félix *
+34 968 467 654
Avenida Fuerzas Armadas, 146

CIFEA: Centro Integrado de Formación y Capacitación Agraria (Integrated Center about Formation and Agrarian Training) offers to the participants in the “International Meeting on Phytodepuration” accomodation for about 20 –30 persons.
The price for person and night is: 4.75 €.
It has Dormitories with 4 beds and a shared toilet and shower.
If you are interested in booking, please send us an e-mail (vsanchez@fundacionglobalnature.org) before the end of June.

Registration form

Registration Form (80kb)

Abstract submission form

Abstract submission form (71kb)




Roughly speaking, our goal, to organize a fully satisfactory Meeting, has fulfilled the attendants’ expectatives and the Coordinator’s expectatives.
This Meeting allowed a feedback session of interests, problems, solutions and methods to tackle a main theme in the management of Green Filters.
The idea was to discuss this theme from a multidisciplinary point of view, so that the Meeting would be a meeting point to have discussions between researchers from differents areas and origins.
Our objective was to establish relations between University researchers and personal from tecnologic centers or companies interested on innovation so that future projets were posible.
The International Meeting closed on Thursday. All participants were issued an attendance certificate and a manual on phytodepuration.










Nivelación de terrenos




Instalación de conducciones y arquetas del FMF



Nivelación de terrenos




FMF Cortijo de la Tortuga mora













Arqueta de salida FMF Avilés



Filtro de Macrófitas en Flotación en la Pedanía de Coy


Instalación de geomembranas para impermeabilización de los canales de la Pedanía de Dña. Inés





Balsa de purines Cooperativa Gamur






















FMF Vivienda de Chueco, detalle de plantación de macrofitas


















































































Sistema de fijación