Sustainable concepts towards a zero outflow municipality (Zer0-M)

Level: Local
Region: MENA Region
Tags: Capacity building & knowledge transfer
Target audience: Environmental authorities | Industry/business | Local government/municipalities | National government | NGOs and CSOs | Regional government | Scientists | Students/university | Water authorities | Water companies

Morocco has about 5,000 hammams that could provide treated greywater for low-grade water uses for domestic use and unlimited irrigation. The hammams consume an estimated 1.7 million tonnes of firewood every year—an amount that could easily be halved merely by installing solar collectors on the roofs of the buildings. The intent behind this pilot project was to demonstrate the potential for local greywater collection and treatment and the use of solar power to heat water.

Zer0-M aimed to test and refine concepts and technologies for close-loop usage of all water flows in small communities—that is, a “zero outflow municipality”.

The project also aimed to develop and demonstrate solutions for local water management that can reduce pressure on water resources under conditions of scarcity. The main goal was to demonstrate that low-cost, efficient solutions are available for sufficient treatment of used water so that it can be reused safely for new purposes. 

The key idea behind Zer0-M was to integrate water supply, wastewater treatment and reuse, and wastewater re-use systems were developed accordingly to minimise freshwater consumption. The best-quality freshwater is reserved for high-grade use (i.e. for drinking), while wastewater is treated specifically for the planned purpose of re-use. Segregation of wastewater into different fractions is one option to ease treatment. In this way, all resources that are found in the wastewater (water and nutrients) can be reused. The intent here was to introduce “low tech, high concept” solutions that were tailor-made for small communities. The use of non-conventional water resources was an important factor in this innovative concept.

Today you can find wastewater being treated at a roadside-constructed wetland planted with reeds and roses, which not only cleans water but adds a beautiful area along the street in the middle of a small town. This is a new, low-cost and robust approach to localised water treatment at the point of production and re-use


Results obtained

  • In El Attaouia, Morocco, the Zer0-M project implemented a greywater treatment and a solar water heating for a public bath and hammam. The treated greywater was used to irrigate green areas of the town, for which purpose an irrigation system was built. The solar heater for the hammam replaced 50 percent of the firewood demand.
  • Public acceptance of the reuse/recycle concept.
  • Reduced quantity of fresh water and cost of water (economic benefits).
  • Exchanges of information, know-how and technology.
  • Trainings and demonstration centres for full-scale detection and solution of problems.
  • Training and optimum design resulted in risk reduction and improved hygienic conditions.
  • Integrated management through continued use of project achievements.

Success factors

  • Successful implementation was reached through the targeted transfer of technology, a training series, and implementation of small-scale and real-scale examples and virtual studies.

Indicators used

  • Number of pilot plants.
  • Quantity and quality of reused wastewater.
  • Quantity of green areas irrigated by treated greywater.

This project can be implemented in any small community where the required infrastructure can be installed. It is adaptable in areas where households, industries and/or public institutions can provide treated greywater for low-grade water use. The implementation and sustainability of the application also requires sufficient training of available human resources. Analysis of the potential level of applicability on a case-by-case (municipality) basis is recommended, as greywater production (quantity) depends on consumer behaviour and on other factors.

Total costs

  • EUR 225,000