Dierenpark Emmen

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Short description

Zoo’s water plant. Sustainable water management: waste water treatment,saving, reuse.


The wastewater treatment plant in Emmen’s zoo is open to visitors as a park attraction. Visitors can see by themselves how the latest cleaning technologies work for zoo’s wastewater flows. The water from the plant is completely recycled and reused.

Qualitative Analysis

Description of the Process

In Emmen's zoo water used for animals pools like Hyppos, crocodiles and penguins, is cleaned and purified. After purification is reused in the same pools, for flushing toilets, but not for drinking. In the plant water is naturally purified passing through pools with tropical plants and microorganisms. This natural water treatment facility, called "Living machine", is located in a greenhouse pavillion with constant temperature to encourage the biological processes. Both the water plant and the "Living machine" are open to the public.


The region has a tradition in water management. In 1930 the company Waterleidingmaatschappij Drenthe (WMD) built the the first drinking water center of the area. Later the same company designed and largely built the water plant for Emmen's zoo. In 2002 the water plant and the water pavillion opened to the public as part of the exposition

Factors that contributed to the success of the project

The water purification loop, brings to animal's water consumption from 180.000 to 30.000 cubic meters per year. The water for Hyppos, penguins and turtles is purified in three different circuits. The pools are also cleaner, so the animals are more easily visible by visitors. The educational aspect in the zoo, is also improved since the water treatment plant is open to the public. People can actually see how the water circulates through large round tanks where the plants grow. The water circulates through large round tanks where these plants grow. The roots absorb nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the activated sludge and the roots serve as a support for microorganisms, which play an important role in the transformation of contaminants in mineral substances.

Role of different stakeholders in the system during the realization and maintenance of the project

Waterleidingmaatschappij Drenthe (WMD) designed and largely built the water plant. The company also owns the plant. Waterschap Velt & Vecht brought expertises about water treatment. The two companies are both responsible for the daily management of the factory.

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