cod. 1008240

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - Second semester
- Pierluigi VIAROLI
Academic discipline
Ecologia (BIO/07)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
28 hours
of face-to-face activities
3 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

This course is offered for the free students' choice with the goal of completing the training on water resources, treatment and reuse of wastewaters. The specific objectives are:
- to identify and evaluate the pollutant sources and loads from the main human activities,
- to identify the most suitable technique for wastewater processing,
- to identify and handle the main parameters for managing treatment plants,
All objectives contribute to the formation of skills and operational abilities.


Background in ecology, microbiology, inorganic and organic chemistry

Course unit content

This course is mainly technical and composes of four sections.
The first presents a summary of the main tipology of water supply, with reference to water availability and quality, and uses.
The main pollution sources and how to evaluate the pollutant loads are then presented.
The second part deals with the main wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) tipologies, with emphasis on the activated sludge, In addition, other WWTP typologies are synthetically presented, i.e. trickling filter, biodisk, and sequential batch reactors.
The third section presents Nature Based Solutions (NBS) , namely constructed wetlands. The focus is mainly on the subsurface water flow typology.
The fourth part consist in the visit and activities at the Parma West WWTP (activated sludge with denitrification) and at the wetland system of the dairy farm S. Vittoria (Carpaneto, PC).

Full programme

WATER FOR IRRIGATION - Classification criteria; chemical quality in relation to crops. Effects of land use and irrigation on water quality.
DRINKING WATER - Qualitative characteristics; chemical-based classification. Reference standard. Supply sources: main types; effect of source on quality. Individual consumption. Potabilization treatments (outline)
WASTEWATERS - Polluting activities and sources, and pollution typologies with reference to organic matter, phosphorus and nitrogen. Equivalent inhabitant. Coefficient based on BOD, N and P. Calculation of potential and real loads (outline). The effects of pollution on surface and groundwater. The short circuit of the water cycle. EU directives, national and regional legislation (outline).

Presentation of the main mechanical, physical, chemical-physical, biological processes. Presentation of a standard layout of a wastewater treatment plants.
BIOLOGICAL TREATMENT WITH ACTIVATED SLUDGE. Components and biological structure: bacteria and microbial processes, ciliated protozoa. Main reactions. Tertiary treatments. Nitrification-denitrification coupling; pre- and post-denitrification. Phosphorus removal and recycling: chemical and biological methods. Parameters and criteria for managing a WWTP.
BIOFILM BASED SYSTEMS: biodiscs (biological rotors) and trickling filters. Other treatment systems: sequential batch reactors (SBRs); Imhoff tanks.
Treatment and reuse of activated sludge. Reuse of treated wastewaters.

BIOLOGICAL PONDS _ Aerobic, facultative and anaerobic.
CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS - Surface and subsurface flow systems. Main macrophyte typology. Constructed wetlands with horizontal and vertical subsurface flow. Biological components: interactions between macrophytes and microbial communities. Management criteria and plant designing.
Other applications based on the exploitation of natural solutions to take up the diffuse loadings: wetlands, channels and minor hydrographic network, buffer strips.

1) Visit at the Parma Ovest wastewater treatment plant, meeting and discussion with the technicians who manage the plant.
2) Visit at the constructed wetland plant of the dairy farm “S. Vittoria " (Carpaneto, PC). During the visit, the production process and the actions taken to save water and reduce emissions are also presented.


Theacher notes and slides.
The following books are also available in the library of the Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, della Vita e della Sostenibilità Ambientale, University of Parma.
- Madoni P., 2005. Biological processes in activated sludges. ENIA, RE (in Italian).
- Romagnolli F., 2013. Phytodepuration. Sustainable management of waters. Dario Flaccovio, Palermo (in Italian).

Teaching methods

Lectures on the main wastewater treatment techniques (60% of credits).
Visit and activities in two types of WWTP (40% of credits).

Assessment methods and criteria

At the end of the course students acquired skills that enable them to identify the main contaminants of water and to select the most appropriate treatment technique.
The final exam consists of a written test with 10 questions, of which 5 are open-ended and 5 are closed-ended. The maximum score is 35. The exam is passed with 18. Praise is conferred with score > 32.

In the case of health restrictions, the written examination will be maintained and carried out in small groups in a classroom large enough to allow safe conditions, in accordance with the requirements in force.

Other information

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