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Storage and Land Application of Olive Oil Mill Wastewater: experiences in Calabria

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  026136,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.9781) @2002
Authors:   Giuseppe Marrara, Vincenzo Tamburino, Santo Marcello Zimbone
Keywords:   Olive-oil mill wastewater, storage, land application

In the Mediterranean basin about 3x107 m3 of olive oil mill wastewater is produced each season. The high organic matter content of the wastewater, the presence of inhibiting substances, the seasonality of the oil extraction process and the wide geographical dispersion of mills pose considerable technical-economic difficulties for effluent disposal, also in relation to the ever-growing concern over the prevention of water pollution. The experience with current technology for olive oil mill effluent treatment and disposal induces to look for alternative systems for wastewater management. Especially in particular situations (such as those of small oil mills located in rural areas), wastewater application to soil by means of storage-irrigation systems could represent the most efficient disposal solution from the economic and environmental point of view, because it is able to valorize the natural effect of degradation performed by the soil avoiding the pollution of water bodies due to the uncontrolled discharge of untreated effluents. The results of tests in Mediterranean conditions have highlighted that the storage of oil mill wastewater, besides providing the spreading system with an useful flexibility, can also play, in the medium term, a function of effluent pretreatment. The preliminary results of the analysis of soil characteristics, after the application of wastewater volumes much higher than Italian legislation standards, have not highlighted significant problems of degradation.

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