Closing nutrient cycles in decentralised water treatment systems

Map of SANSED Project Area in Vietnam
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Duration: 05/2005 - 07/2009
Project Area: Mekong-Delta
Project Website:
Coordination: Dr. Ute Arnold
INRES - Plant Nutrition
University of Bonn
Karlrobert-Kreiten-Strasse 13
D-53115 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 (0)228 732150

Project Description

Nutrient recycling by application of human excreta to maintain soil fertility has been practiced in the Eastern Asia and the Western Pacific region for 4,000 years. In many countries the need for nutrient recycling increases due to the economic downturn, resulting in socio-economic constraints for the population, e.g. in rural areas of countries in transition.

The international project "Closing Nutrient Cycles by means of Hygienically Harmless Substrates in Decentralised Water Treatment Systems in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam" (SANSED) had an interdisciplinary approach to solve problems associated with wastewater in rural areas by recycling nutrients: Substrates from decentralised water management may supply nutrients to agro-ecosystems. To apply these substrates in a distinguished way they have to match site-specific demands depending on soil and plant production.

Within the SANSED project, site-adapted concepts for water supply and wastewater treatment are developed for the densely populated agricultural region of the Mekong Delta. The systems shall minimise nutrient losses and provide adequate substrates for agriculture, thus producing an additional benefit for the operators of water supply and wastewater treatment systems.

Important Results

Within SANSED project important experiences on operation and performance of decentralised water and wastewater treatment systems in the Mekong Delta and in tropical areas were gained:

  • to develop decentralized water supply and wastewater treatment systems;
  • to test the most suitable options for water supply (e.g. rain, surface and ground water) before its installation;
  • to ensure that all systems are socially accepted, reliable and affordable;
  • to recycle as much nutrients as possible. The wastewater systems are regarded as "fertilizer factories". Thus, not the technical philosophy, but the agro-ecological demands define the wastewater treatment system.
  • Drinking water treatment and supply (surface water and groundwater / sand filtration and disinfection)

German partners:

  • University of Bonn, Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation, INRES-Plant Nutrition; Institute for Hygiene and Public Health, Institute for Food and Resource Economics, ILR-Economic Sociology,
  • Ruhr-University Bochum, Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
  • Leibniz University Hannover, Institute of Soil Sciences,
  • Martin-Luther-University of Halle-Wittenberg, Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Soil Sciences,
  • B3 Biogas Beratung Bornim GmbH, Potsdam,
  • Bioreact GmbH, Troisdorf,
  • gewitra Ingenieurgesellschaft für Wissenstransfer mbH, Hannover,
  • Gewitra GmbH, Bonn,
  • Hans Huber AG, Berching,
  • IBAU Innovatives Büro für Aquakultur und Umwelttechnik, Beelitz,
  • GSan GmbH, Berlin,
  • Ith Ingenieurbüro für Technische Hydrologie, Bayreuth,
  • Sachsen Wasser GmbH, Leipzig

Vietnamese partners:

  • Can Tho University (CTU),
  • College of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRes):
  • Department of Environmental Engineering,
  • Department of Environment Management and Natural Resources
  • College of Agriculture and Applied Biology:
  • Department of Soil Science and Land Management,
  • Department of Animal Sciences,
  • Department of Plant Protection
  • College of Aquaculture and Fisheries:
  • Department of Applied Biology
  • Hoa An Biodiversity Research Center

Photo: Life at the river 1, Source: SANSED

Photo: Life at the river 2, Source: SANSED

Photo: Water supply in rural areas 1, Source: SANSED

Photo: Water supply in rural areas 2, Source: SANSED

Photo: Rice harvest, Source: SANSED

Photo: Operation of a biogas pilot plant 1, Source: SANSED

Photo: Operation of a biogas pilot plant 2, Source: SANSED

Photo: Pilot field, Source: SANSED

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