Eco-innovation consultancy for the implementation of efficient systems for the control of invasive species in an irrigation community.

This work has been developed in the Comunidad de Regantes Margen Derecha del Río Guadalope (Aragón-Spain) and funded by the VIDA project. DIAMA and Pamagroup, partners of ZINNAE, are developed the study, together with Susana García Asín.

Invasive alien species (IAS) are non-native species that are introduced deliberately or unintentionally by human action outside their natural habitats where they establish, proliferate and spread in ways that cause damage to biological diversity. IAS, like the zebra mussel (ZM) represent a serious threat to biodiversity, which constitutes one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss (EEA Technical Report 16/2012). Combating the IAS is one of the six targets covered by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

The combination of chemical biocides and physical methods, implemented in an efficient way, proves to be the most efficient way to control IAS colonization of hydraulic systems such as an irrigation community. Chemical products, such as hydrogen peroxide + peracetic acid (Peracetic mix), are often used to control or eradicate the zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, in pressurised irrigation pipes. The optimal application of these substances is essential to achieve maximum effectiveness at minimum cost, without harmful effects on crops or the environment.

Software tools, such as EPANET, are useful to predict the hydraulic behaviour of water distribution systems, to monitor water quality. Moreover, these software tools enable the simulation of additive application effect, by modelling its corresponding chemical reaction, leading to the prediction of the time evolution of additive concentration along with the irrigation network. This prediction will consider the additive reaction in raw water and also its reaction with the wall, covered by zebra mussel, due to interaction between additive and IAS.

It has been demonstrated, Peracetic mix, do not generate any harmful by-products (thrihalomethane, chloroform, …), as other chemical products such as sodium hypochlorite do, and therefore, will not generate any harmful by-products in the food products cultivated in the surrounding area. So, the system has important contributions to the proper functioning of the food value chain, particularly with regards to traceability and food safety.


1. Analysis of the IAS community (including zebra mussel and Asian clam) area of influence and evolution along with the irrigation network of the irrigation community. The essential parameters for the development of the hydraulic model such as physicochemical parameters and larval analysis have been analyzed at key points of the irrigation network.

2 Analysis and comparison of the best available technologies for the treatment of zebra mussel and Asian clam larval population (such as biodegradable biocides) and other biotechnological solutions to standardize the O&M procedure for the future IAS monitoring and control. Also considering the use of new monitoring devices and periodic treatments in order to facilitate better management and control of water and energy usage in irrigation communities.

Results achieved

The essential parameters for the development of the hydraulic model, physicochemical parameters and larval analysis have been analyzed at key points in the irrigation network.

The larval concentrations, despite the time of year when they have been taken the samples – which coincides with the low capacity of the species – have been high.

It is concluded that the contribution of zebra mussel by the Mequinenza Reservoir is large, but there seems to be no added reproduction in the irrigation pool and the concentration decreases along with the distribution network.

The physicochemical quality of water is conducive to larval viability, so that, even if larvae die from network pressure, high speed, or by Anoxia… they are able to reach the endpoints of the distribution network thanks to the supply of nutrients and the correct oxygenation of the water.

Disinfectant application simulations were run considering various hypothetical cases, obtaining results for variations in the concentration of residual biocide due to the transportation and decay processes at any point of the network over time.

An intermittent point-type preventive treatment is selected because the pumping of water to the network is not continuous, then continuous treatments would not be effective.

The goal is to maintain a minimum concentration of disinfectant product at all points in the main pipe for at least 2 hours every 12-14 hours.

This project was awarded by the VIDA project and has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement nº 777795. The content of this document represents the view of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility: it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or
the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The European Commission and the Agency do not accept responsibility for the use that may be made of the information it contains.