Consorzio Aquarno SpA was established in 1983 for the purpose of solving the wastewater problem within the Tuscan Leather District. Despite its legal registration, the wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) was operating since 1974, five years before the emanation of the first environmental national Law, this because of the tannery wastewater's pollution potential.
Over the last 30 years, Aquarno has experienced a continuous evolution both structural and technological, with the aim of reducing environmental impacts, guaranteeing high efficiency water depuration, at the same time. The figure which best expresses the combination of continuous efforts and outcomes, is the WWTP's treatment capability that is around 2Mlns of I.E. and about 36.000m3/d as urban wastewater incomes. These parameters make Consorzio Aquarno one of the biggest WWTP in Europe. A proportional enlargement of its catchement area has followed the increase of the WWTP's treatment capacity. At the beginning of Nineties two different treatment section were built inside the plant in order to satisfy the new hydraulic and legal requirements:
- Municipal wastewater section
- Industrial wastewater section
Nowadays, the WWTP collects and treats sewages incoming from three of the four main towns within the Tuscany Leather District, respectively: Santa Croce sull'Arno, Fucecchio and Castelfranco di Sotto. While the treatment of municipal wastewater is almost standardized, the majority of research and experimental activities regard the industrial wastewater section, mainly because of peculiar recalcitrance and pollutants composition of tanning wastewater. Thanks to employees' constant committment and also thanks to research projects accomplished over past years, Consorzio Aquarno has developed an innovative biological process that requires a minimal chemical consumption. The "Tutto Biologico" process has significantly changed the plant configuration, two biological oxidation stages followed by a tertiary treatment (Fenton + clariflocculation) have been arranged within the plant. Compared with the old physico-chemical process, this transformation has allowed a drastic sludge production reduction. The Whole treatment process is now stricly controlled and a centralized remote control system continuously monitors each operating machine inside the plant, beside this the automation system also provides real time data collection and analysis. The internal analysis laboratory, due to its modern instruments and high qualified staff, provides the characterization of all fluxes' with a view of completing the plant control in a very efficient and effective way. Although Consorzio Aquarno is able to comply with all process and legal requirements, it also collaborates with important research centre as Po.Te.Co. (Polo Tecnologico Conciario), University of Pisa, University of Firenze and other certified companies. The main target of this fruitful research network is the processes optimization, with a view of further reducing the sludge production, the odours emissions and also improving the depuration efficiency of some particular stages.