1. Development of tools for evaluating microplastics and emerging contaminants in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and in the aquatic environment

The aim of this activity is to develop and select analytical tools capable of evaluating, in an efficient and standardised manner, the different contaminants of emerging concern, including microplastics, in both surface water bodies and in wastewater.


The proposed revision of the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive and the Water Framework Directive include new objectives related to the elimination of contaminants of emerging concern and microplastics in Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs), as well as defining environmental standards.


To meet these new demands, high-performance methodologies will be developed that can be used to meet the monitoring requirements established in the new directives. Additionally, an interlaboratory comparison exercise will be organised to collaborate with other entities in validating these methodologies. 

Expected results:

  • Development and improvement of high-performance methodologies for the detection of emerging contaminants
  • Development and improvement of methodologies for sampling and detecting microplastics
  • Interlaboratory exercise to validate the analytical methodologies used to detect indicator compounds in wastewater

Partners: Coordinated by: USC, Participants: IEO-CSIC, AEdP, INTECMAR

2. Risks and impacts of the presence of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and microplastics (MPs) in the aquatic environment

The aim of this activity is to use chemical, ecotoxicological and modelling tools to support the environmental risk assessment of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) and microplastics (MPs).


This activity will use chemical and ecotoxicological tools, as well as hydrodynamic, transport and food chain models, to evaluate the effectiveness of wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with and without tertiary/quaternary treatment in eliminating CECs and MPs from the receiving environment. It seeks to assess the potential for reusing water that has undergone tertiary/quaternary treatments for agricultural crop irrigation.


This activity will be highly relevant in supporting the proposed regulation on urban wastewater treatment, and in evaluating the suitability of new methods for reusing treated water for agricultural irrigation. 

Expected results:

  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of WWTPs in eliminating CECs and MPs using analytical and ecotoxicological methods.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of tertiary/quaternary treatments in pilot stations, considering the criteria proposed in the wastewater treatment regulations, as well as their potential reuse for agricultural irrigation.
  • Development of a modelling tool to support environmental risk assessment, integrating food chain models, numerical modelling, and toxicological descriptors.
  • Environmental assessment of two pilot stations in the cross-border area using a life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology. Determination of the environmental profile of different setups and comparison with conventional systems, identifying inefficiencies, areas for improvement, environmental advantages, etc.

Partners: Coordinated by FCUP, Participants: CIIMAR, FEUP, AEdP, INTECMAR, USC, IEO-CSIC, CETAQUA

3. Dynamisation and strengthening of the NOR-WATER public-private collaboration network on contaminants of emerging concern (CECs).

The aim of this activity is to ensure the long-term sustainability and advancement of the NOR-WATER Network established within the framework of the project with the same name (POCTEP 2014-2020). This activity will involve expanding the network, promoting the integration of new members, developing new management tools to capitalise on existing knowledge, organising transfer activities and events, launching and promoting R+D+I initiatives, and fostering synergies with other projects, networks and platforms.


The NOR-WATER Network is a multidisciplinary public-private collaboration forum focused on contaminants of emerging concern (CECs). Currently, the network is comprised of 41 entities, 28 from Spain and 13 from Portugal. This activity aims to consolidate, propel, and expand the network by integrating new members, showcasing their capabilities and technological offerings, promoting collaboration, hosting events, and outlining its road map. Synergies will be fostered with other related initiatives, and an online database will be developed which contains relevant information and documentation on the project’s subject matter, as well as information about entities, projects, and their results. 

Expected results:

  • Document outlining the network’s capabilities and technological offerings
  • Documentary database of CECs and microplastics
  • Webinars and seminars related to the project’s subject matters.
  • Winter school
  • NOR-WATER Network website and dissemination materials
  • Synergies with other related initiatives

Partners: Coordinated by CETMAR with the participation of all partners.

4. Environmental education and awareness raising activities

Within the project’s communication actions, environmental education and awareness raising activities will be organised in both Galicia and Northern Portugal. 

The Aquamuseu-CMVNC will organise activities to clean up and monitor litter along the shores of the River Miño with school groups and citizens (3 times per year). Additionally, two experimental activities will be conducted with students: 1) in coordination with action 4.2 “Are we consuming microplastics? and 2) “Blocking plastic transport”: an ecological barrier will be used to raise awareness among the population about the role of rivers in waste transportation. A travelling exhibition titled “Plastic in Nature” and a video titled “The migration of plastic” will be produced. Additionally, a guide to the River Miño will also be published, which will emphasise the conservation of its natural values. 

In Viana do Castelo, the CMIA, representing the Municipality, will organise inclusive travelling exhibitions on marine waste. They will also develop educational games exploring the water cycle and the circular economy versus waste. Publications focusing on the sources, emissions and impact of microplastics will be produced, along with educational kits. 

In Galicia, the IEO-CSIC will conduct environmental education activities for students in secondary education. These activities will include workshops on microplastics, and CECs delivered by members of the project. The outlines of these activities will be published on the website so that teachers can also use them in their classrooms. Additionally, an educational game will be produced, which will cover key concepts of the project, and this game will also be made available to the educational community on the project website. 

A social media campaign will be launched to raise awareness among the public, featuring short video clips and infographics that will be accessible on the project website.









This website has been co-funded by the European Union through the Interreg VI-A Spain-Portugal (POCTEP) 2021-2027 Programme. The opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author(s).
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