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Augmented reality app to engage citizens on water reuse

Autor: Sina Ruhwedel

Augmented reality app to engage citizens on water reuse
With the AR application it is possible to visualise the water recycling process from the sewer mining unit. The sewage water is reused at the urban tree nursery.

The water industry is exploring the use of Augmented Reality (AR). Teams can now visualise and navigate future project simulations in AR and make design tweaks in real-time. AR is also being explored as a tool to help increase public engagement on water reuse as part of circular economy projects.

Behind the curtain

AR View Of The Treatment Container

AR view of the treatment container

In Athens, an augmented reality smartphone app is being developed that allows people to “see behind the curtain” and engage in a circular development. Located in Goudi, a decentralised “sewer mining” unit treats sewage water to be reused at the urban tree nursery. The demo site explores three aspects of the circular economy: optimisation of water resources, nutrient mining and reuse and energy generator practices.

Part of NextGen, a four-year H2020 project, it falls under the EU Water in the Context of the Circular Economy programme. “Sewer Mining as a concept is gaining traction,” says Dr Klio Monokrousou from the Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Resources Management, NTUA, Athens. “It’s an innovative way to address water scarcity in real-world urban environments. Due to its decentralised form, it can be installed in situ, and therefore closer to the circular economy concept.”

AR layers computer-generated imagery on top of the real world. As the containerised solution is effectively a “closed box”, the AR app, currently in beta testing phase, would allow passers-by to “see inside the container” and visualise the water recycling process on their smartphones.


The app is being developed to be educational. Gamification aspects such as badging, an award system, questions, survey feedback, and many other features will enable users to learn while engaging in circular economy principles.

“We’re also trying to demonstrate and help people to visualise how life could be different when we use circular economy practices,” says Dr Tina Katika, researcher at the Institute of Communication and Computer Systems (ICCS), Athens. “For example, you can use the app to understand how much water you use in your household.”


Sewer mining flips the script on the traditional wastewater treatment model. Units are deployed closer to where the resources, namely water, nutrients and energy, are needed. The application consists of a small pumping station that pumps wastewater from the local sewage network to a membrane bioreactor (MBR) unit. Wastewater is treated by biological treatment for organic oxidation and nitrification, denitrification, and membrane filtration. After the MBR unit, the water goes to UV disinfection before the high-quality reclaimed water is suitable for irrigation and aquifer recharge during the winter. Besides integrated energy and nutrient recovery schemes being tested in Athens, a compost-based eco-engineering product is to be produced as an onsite fertiliser. This is made from mixing wastewater sludge with treated wood and green wastes from tree pruning.

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