The Water Sector recognised some years ago that it was ageing and that it needed fresh talent if it was going to solve the important challenges looming ahead. With this in mind, the International Water Association (IWA), the largest international network of water professionals with members in 130 countries, began to actively push for higher visibility and empowerment of Young Water Professionals (YWP). The UK YWP Chapter is one of the strongest in the world. Its annual conference is one of the largest gatherings of YWPs and is unique in the UK for offering a tailored conference for professionals emerging in the water industry. The conference, now in its 18th year, has been growing sustainably ever since its inception in 1999 and this year attracted a record of almost 200 participants to think about how to achieve the vision of “A Water World without Boundaries”. Organised by the University of Bath as part of its 50th anniversary festivities, together with partners such as Black & Veatch, Wessex Water, The Foundation for Water Research, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institution for Chemical Engineers (IChemE), it brought together speakers and participants from academia and industry, from the UK and abroad. The scientific and organising committee involved more than twenty early career and senior professionals to deliver a program packed with presentations, workshops, discussions, new ideas and opportunities for career development.
We are all aware of the breadth of issues that we face as a planet when it comes to securing sustainable water supplies in the future. Global changes in climate, land use and demographics mean that there will be different pressures on water availability and quality and these have the potential to affect human health and the environment. Whilst some challenges are long-standing, such as ensuring adequate sanitation for all, we also face emerging issues, in the form of new pollutants, such as hormones and pharmaceuticals.
Last year in Leipzig, leading scientists from China, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA met at the 6th Chemical Sciences in Society Symposium (CS3) to discuss how chemistry could contribute to future global water security. The meeting is part of an ongoing series that brings together leading scientists from these nations, with the support of their national chemical societies and national funding bodies to discuss the role of the chemical sciences in different global challenges.
The discussions from the meeting have been captured in the recently launched white paper Chemistry and Water: Challenges and Solutions in Changing World, which highlights the future research directions, collaborations and policies that are needed to ensure global water needs can be met in the future. The discussion at the meeting encompassed wide range of issues, including the link between water, the environment and human health, the need for ever-evolving detection methods, improved water treatment techniques and the opportunities presented for recovering valuable materials from water.
A number of themes emerged from discussions across all areas, such as the need for chemists to work alongside other disciplines, such as engineering, ecology and epidemiology and the importance of continual international knowledge exchange and collaboration. The white paper also makes more detailed recommendations for research directions in the different themes of environment and health, detection, treatment and recovery of materials and includes case studies on how water challenges are being tackled in each nation.
Bruce Petrie, Ruth Barden, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, A review on emerging contaminants in wastewaters and the environment: Current knowledge, understudied areas and recommendations for future monitoring, Water Research 72 (2015) 3-27.
This review identifies understudied areas of emerging contaminant (EC) research in wastewaters and the environment, and recommends direction for future monitoring.