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Life cycle assessment as decision support tool for water reuse in agriculture irrigation

  • Kalboussi, Nesrine
  • Biard, Yannick
  • Pradeleix, Ludivine
  • Rapaport, Alain
  • Sinfort, Carole
  • Ait-Mouheb, Nassim
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2022
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This study presents a decision support tool that evaluates the environmental efficiency of water reclamation for agricultural irrigation, among other options. The developed tool is published as open source at The objective of this decision support tool is to facilitate the interpretation of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results. This framework was applied to a representative case of reuse of reclaimed water for vine irrigation at the Murviel-Les-Montpellier experimental site (Hérault, France). It was then generalized through modeling assumptions to consider different reuse scenarios. To highlight situations in which the supply of recycled water for irrigation may or may not provide significant environmental benefits, three main parameters were varied: (i) tertiary treatment technologies, (ii) availability of conventional water sources, (iii) energy mix composition. The results show that the environmental impact of reclaimed water depends directly on the type of tertiary treatment technology and the location of the treatment plant in relation to the field and other water sources. The decision support tool has identified where wastewater reuse is clearly an environmentally beneficial source of irrigation among surface and groundwater sources (e.g., WWTP closer to field than river, groundwater too deep, tertiary treatment environmentally beneficial). However, there are many situations where the decision support process cannot distinguish between water reuse for agricultural irrigation and conventional water sources, especially when the nutrient content of treated municipal wastewater is insufficient to offset the negative effects of high energy requirements and chemicals of tertiary treatment.

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