Interreg Vlaanderen Nederland - I-QUA

Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland

Dutch version

The Interreg project I-QUA ("I" stands for innovation, intelligence and interaction and "Qua" for qualitative solutions for waste water treatment) aims to provide qualitative solutions for decentralised waste water treatment through to innovation. During four years (from April 2017 to March 2021), six Flemish partners (Province of West Flanders, VLAKWA / VITO, UGent, Aquafin, Tuincreatie Wouter Igodt and Ecobeton Water Technologies) and three Dutch partners (Recreational farm Pukkemuk, Bernheze and Gilze- Rijen) will develop innovative solutions and test them at different locations. There is testing of waste water technologies at a goat farm, a catering business, a carwash and a local football club. Within the project, a mobile plant system in a container will also be developed to treat waste water from events. There is a strong focus on the local re-use of the treated wastewater and the recovery of raw materials (nutrients) and energy.  Moreover, it is demonstrated that this waste water can be directly converdted into potable water.


Description of the project

Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland

Both in the Netherlands and in Flanders there is a major task for the coming decades to replace or construct decentralized waste water treatment facilities. Therefore, both sides of the border are looking for innovative and sustainable applications to accomplish this task. In the past different approaches for decentralized wastewater treatment were adopted in Flanders and the Netherlands. As such, there is a large potential for knowledge and experience exchange. In Flanders, houses located in rural areas were connected to a lesser degree to (mechanical) sewerage. Therefore, there is more knowledge and experience in applying various decentralized waste water treatment facilities. The Netherlands, on the other hand, has more experience in the construction and maintenance of large-scale sewerage systems in rural areas.

Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland I-QUA afbeelding 1The purpose of the I-Qua project is to exchange knowledge and experience on both sides of the border in order to come up with innovative solutions. This is done by establishing a long list of possible decentralized treatment techniques. Furthermore, different innovative waste water treatment facilities at different locations are experimentally developed, tested and monitored.

The various test cases are the following. The reuse of water is being investigated in a car wash in Nerhoven (NL), where decentralized treatment will be realized. Furthermore, the treated water will be made suitable for re-use on-site. In addition, a mobile plant based treatment plant is developed, specifically suitable for treating gray water (waste water from, among other things, eateries and showers) from events. Often the water is simply discharged onto the surface water or discharged to a treatment plant. It is also being examined whether this treated gray water can be upgraded to potable water. In the HVCH Heesch's sports complex a system dedicated to the recovery of raw materials will be constructed. Also, waste water streams are completely separated in order to be treated separately. At the restaurant Gust'Eaux it will be examined whether the waste water can be treated to a dischargeable level and, in addition, it will be investigated whether further (tertiary) treatment is possible in view of potable reuse. Finally, in a goat farm in Lochristi, the treatment of industrial waste water is considered as well as the recovery of nutrients from this waste water.

The final goal of the project is the demonstration of innovative decentralized water treatment technologies and to enable future large-scale roll-out of the developed techniques.



These are the objectives of I-QUA:

  • Experimental development, testing, monitoring and demonstration of innovative decentralized waste water treatment techniques at different locations.
  • Dissemination of the developed knowledge to relevant parties inside and outside the partnership.
  • Increase the level of support of users (residents / companies), customers (municipalities / provinces) and suppliers for the use, construction and development of innovative decentralized waste water treatment techniques (that include re-use).


Role of Ghent University

Interreg Vlaanderen-Nederland I-QUA afbeelding 2Ghent University will be the main scientific partner in the project and is responsible for drafting a long list with possible decentralized waste water treatment systems. For all 5 case studies a dedicated short list is developed based on this long list. On the basis of these short lists, one specific treatment system per case study will be selected and implemented by the owner of the case study location. After construction of the full-scale installation, UGent will be responsible for measuring the treatment performance (in terms of water quality and energy efficiency) of the 3 Flemish cases (mobile treatment plant, treatment at restaurant Gust'eaux and treatment at the goat farm). Finally, UGent will assess the performance of all the waste water treatment facilities based on the measurements performed by the different partners in the project.



Initially a long list was drawn up with an overview and a critical discussion of various decentralized waste water treatment systems. Attention was paid to treatment as such, but also to possibilities for reuse and recovery. The long list (in Dutch) can be found on the I-QUA website. The long list and the planned measurements within the project were discussed in a number of expert meetings.

The mobile water treatment plant has been operational since 2017 and has already been tested at various festivals and events during the summer of 2017 and 2018 (see, among others, website). The measurements (carried out by UGent and Aquafin) show that there is good removal of suspended solids, detergents, BOD and COD. The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are properly removed. During the summer of 2019, a further step was taken and the wastewater treatment system at the Dranouter Festival was linked to a drinking water production system (this was done in collaboration with the BOSAQ company). In this way, potable water was made locally.

In the fall of 2019 the pilot installation was installed at both the goat farm in Lochristi and the restaurant Gust'eaux and the measurements were started. The cases in the Netherlands will also be launched at the beginning of 2020.

The first results of the I-QUA project were presented at a number of international congresses in Greece and Italy.

Finally, the I-QUA project was linked to the new educational program on circular (bio)processes at UGent Campus Kortrijk .


Europese Unie logo vlag met naamContact

Prof. Dr. ir. Stijn Van Hulle
Faculty of Bioscience Engineering - Department of Green Chemistry and Technology
Phone number: 056 241 251