Research Project

EFFIDRAIN: Efficient integrated real-time control in urban drainage and wastewater treatment plants for environmental protection


European Project

Start Date


End Date


Project Code

LIFE14 ENV/ES/000860

Project illustration


Project Description

Urban drainage networks (UDN) are networks which carry urban wastewater to one or more wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), where it is purified before flowing to the environment. Combined UDNs carry both rain and wastewater together. During heavy-rain events, the UDN and WWTP capacities can be easily overloaded, causing untreated water discharges, known as combined sewer overflows (CSO). To avoid this, modern UDNs include infrastructures, such as tanks, gates and pumps, which can provide storage during the rain events, to release water gradually to the WWTP. The infrastructure operation is performed based on a telemetry and telecontrol systems.

The main goal of LIFE EFFIDRAIN project is to demonstrate an integrated real time control (RTC) strategy of UDNs and WWTP to minimize the pollution of receiving waters, through the use of real-time quantity and quality data. Real-time control (RTC) based on model predictive control (MPC) has been shown to produce efficient management strategies for UDNs. However, up to date, RTC developments have been based on managing flows, not taking into account the polluting load (quality) of the carried water, which varies considerably throughout the rain events and the storage periods. Similarly, the efficiency of the processes in the WWTP depends on both the quantity and the quality of the treated water and untreated water may be refused at different by-pass points producing CSO.

Up to now, UDNs and WWTPs have been managed separately. It is clear that an integrated and coordinated management of quantity and quality in both systems is required to optimize the overall efficiency and protect the quality of the receiving waters, as required by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The partial objectives of LIFE EFFIDRAIN are:

1. Extending existing MPC techniques in use by the consortium, to include both quality and quantity control;
2. Including fault tolerance mechanisms in RTC, so that the system may cope with sensor, actuator, network integrity or communication malfunction;
3. Demonstrating the functionality of the proposed control system in two pilots to prove wide applicability;
4. Disseminating the results of integrated management of UDN and WWTP for awareness of public and private administrations through project stakeholders;
5. Derive guidelines for replication and for European environmental regulation.

Project Publications

Conference Publications

  • C. Sun, B. Joseph, T. Maruejouls, G. Cembrano, J. Meseguer, V. Puig and X. Litrico. Real-time control-oriented quality modelling in combined urban drainage networks, 20th IFAC World Congress, 2017, Toulouse, France, Vol 50 of IFAC Papers Online, pp. 3941-3946, Elsevier.

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  • C. Sun, B. Joseph, T. Maruejouls, G. Cembrano, E. Muñoz, J. Meseguer, A. Montserrat, S. Sampe, V. Puig and X. Litrico. Efficient integrated model predictive control of urban drainage systems using simplified conceptual quality models, 14th IWA/IAHR International Conference on Urban Drainage, 2017, Prague, pp. 1848-1855.

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  • C. Sun, B. Joseph, T. Maruejouls, G. Cembrano, E. Muñoz, J. Meseguer, A. Montserrat, S. Sampe, V. Puig and X. Litrico. Conceptual quality modelling and integrated control of combined urban drainage system, 12th IWA Conference on Instrumentation, Control and Automation, 2017, Quebec, pp. 141-148.

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