Image credit: Steve Johnson from Pexels
Viviane Runa, 2nd year PhD student at the 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 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 these water challenges.
Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the British Water International Conference. 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 point of this conference was to bring 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 will the confidentiality and competition issues that hinder a joint response be overcome? Despite the fact that 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 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 (PHA), an added-value bioplastic, in integration with the existing systems.
The organising committee asked me to moderate a round table on the topic “Micropollutants and Microplastics in our Waterways” — a discussion to identify what the necessary legal measures are to rid our waterways of such contaminants.
The main outcome of the round table discussion I moderated was the agreement that the technologies needed to solve water pollution and management issues are either already available or at late stages of development.
Implementing legal requirements that target 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.
Despite the responsibility involved, the preparation work I had to do ahead of the event and the pressure of interacting with people not involved in science or academia, I really enjoyed the talks and conversations I engaged in. Being aware of, and familiar with, the perspectives and speech of business-related entities can become valuable when I address different audiences about my research.
Attending this event was a great experience!