Viviane Runa, PhD student within CSCT, was invited to attend the British Water International Conference themed "Tomorrow’s Water" in November 2019. Her invitation to the conference followed from her prize-winning presentation at the 20th UK Young Water Professionals Conference in June.
Water is a precious resource. But our water supplies are limited and an efficient management is required to ensure we have enough, good quality water for personal use, agriculture and industry. Phenomena like climate change, pollution and population growth pose a threat to the available water resources and action is necessary to address our water challenges.
Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the British Water International Conference and the theme chosen for this year’s edition was Tomorrow’s Water. British Water is a trade association of companies working in different sectors of the water industry, from water utilities to contractors and technology providers. Its mission is to bridge the contact between different stakeholders, support business development and ensure that best practices are applied at all levels of the water industry.
The conference aimed to get British Water associates and invited panellists together to discuss some of the most urgent and relevant challenges in the water industry. Most participants were representing their companies or organizations, including entities working at an international level – with only me and another attendee coming from a University environment! Some of the issues discussed were water scarcity, climate adaptation, data sharing and effective management of the water cycle. Resilience and Collaboration were the buzz words of the event, used in almost every presentation and discussion. But the question remains: will the required collaboration between the different stakeholders go forward? How to overcome confidentiality and competition issues that hinder a joint response? Despite action is still needed, it was encouraging to see the different representatives keen to work together in solving the water challenges we face as a society.
The organising committee asked me to moderate a round table under the topic “Micropollutants and Microplastics in our Waterways”. The discussion aimed to identify what are the necessary legal measures to ridding our waterways of such contaminants. The main outcome – as similar to most of the other round tables discussions – was the agreement that the technology for solving different issues related with water pollution and management are available or at late stages of development. The implementation of legal requirements targeting entities working at different points of the water cycle, and the collaboration and communication between different sectors of the water industry are the key factors that could control and mitigate the effects of water pollution. The invitation to attend the Conference followed my presentation at the 20th UK Young Water Professionals Conference, back in June, in which I explored the potential of UK wastewater treatment plants to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates, an added-value bioplastic, in integration with the existing systems.
Attending this conference was a great experience! I enjoyed the talks and conversations I engaged in, despite the responsibility, preparation work I had to do ahead of the event and also the pressure of interacting with people not involved in science or academia. Being aware and familiar with the perspectives and speech of business related entities can become valuable when addressing different audiences about my research.
- Viviane Runa