Project: ECO-India

In India, 30% of urban and 90% of rural households are entirely dependent on untreated surface or groundwater. In addition, the vast majority of the country’s population is affected by severe water scarcity, waterborne diseases and excessive levels of fluoride, nitrates, iron and arsenic in available water, which can cause severe health disorders. There is thus an urgent need for effective and safe water supply systems for the country’s inhabitants. 

The ECO-India project aims at developing innovative, cost-effective and sustainable approaches for producing potable water and treating wastewater at community level, focusing in particular on arsenic-affected water-stressed regions in India. Together with 3 other projects, ECO-India resulted from a call coordinated with the Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST). The European participation is funded from the FP7 whereas the Indian participation is supported by the DST. The project thus also represents an important contribution to the development of deeper research and innovation cooperation with India.

Coordinated by the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork in Ireland (Tyndall-UCC), the project consortium represents a world-class interdisciplinary research team from several research institutes and SMEs in Europe, India and Israel. The project team will develop energy-efficient systems for advanced filtration and environmentally-friendly disinfection of drinking water supplies from groundwater tube wells which suffer from arsenic contamination. The overall system will be solar and powered with diesel generator and backup batteries as required. Plans are also in place to utilise an online system for remote monitoring of water quality.

Adapting these technologies to a harsh climate in a rural location represents a key industrial innovation that will be of great benefit for the global use of these technologies. Field deployable arsenic sensors for screening tube wells will also be implemented. Finally, a feasibility study for assessing energy harvesting via biogas from wastewater will be undertaken.

“We will deliver substantial innovation using leading European technologies, together with advanced research, in order to develop reliable and cost-effective solutions for providing clean and safe drinking water,” says ECO-India project coordinator, Dr Mary Manning. “The actual system will be field-tested at a rural community pilot site of about 2,000 people in Western Bengal to validate the technologies,” she adds. 
According to Manning, the ECO-India project will see European Union expertise complement existing water technologies in India with the ultimate aim of bringing water quality up to the desirable standards.

Through the development of low-cost water purification and wastewater treatment technologies, the ECO-India project will enhance European commercial activity in water and wastewater treatment and renewable energy (biogas). Moreover, with the European water and wastewater markets expected to be worth €72 billion by 2017, solving the current problems in India will position Europe as leader in specific water application areas.
This innovation was made possible by Israel’s continued participation in the official Horizon 2020 fund, managed in Israel by ISERD part of The Israel Innovation Authority (Formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist and MATIMOP). The initiative has taken Israeli R&D to the next level with the help of ground-breaking collaboration between scientists in Israel and Europe, as well as essential funding and support.

Project details
Project acronym: ECO-India
Participants: Ireland (Coordinator), Denmark, Germany, India, Israel, United Kingdom
Project FP7 308467
Total costs: €2 257 195
EU contribution: €1 717 434
Duration: September 2012 – August 2015