Large-scale solar sludge drying in Managua/Nicaragua


Within the framework of a programme aimed at reducing the biological contamination of Lake Managua, a central wastewater treatment plant for the city of Managua (1.1 million p. e.) was constructed and commissioned at the end of 2009. Annual sludge production amounts to 26,000 m3 and sludge disposal and/or reuse thus present a major challenge. Based on the results of extensive studies, the combination of solar sludge drying and subsequent reuse in agriculture was considered the most appropriate solution. This approach was honoured with a ‘Distinction’ awarded by the Global Water Intelligence in 2010.

1. Introduction
Throughout the past decades, Lake Managua or Lago Xolotlán with its total surface of about 1,000 km2 has served as main recipient for all sorts of wastewater, domestic and industrial from the city of Managua being the principal source of pollution. Considering the fast growing population of the capital (already more than 1 million inhabitants) and the constantly decreasing water quality in the lake, a comprehensive environmental rehabilitation and protection programme was launched in the nineties. A key element of this programme was the construction of a central wastewater treatment plant on the shore of the lake that should reduce biological contamination (Tab. 1). The programme is implemented by the National Water and Sewerage Company of Nicaragua (ENACAL) and financed through

German KfW Development Bank. On account of the plant size, the appropriate treatment and disposal of sludge presented one of the main challenges. Total annual sludge production was estimated at 26,000 m3, i.e. more than 80 m3/working day.

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