Climate change threatens global water security as changing weather
patterns could intensify demands while shrinking supply. Elsewhere,
increased flooding and run-off will put strain on urban wastewater
treatment systems, potentially impacting on health and sanitation.
The 'Sustainable and integrated urban water system management' (SANITAS
project aims to better equip urban wastewater professionals to tackle
these challenges through technical and management training. Funded by
the EU, scientists, industry and water authorities are pushing the
traditional barriers between policy and research to collaborate on new
technologies for wastewater systems.
So far, SANITAS has improved wastewater treatment designs by
creating precise and compact systems that are also cheaper and more
energy efficient. These designs reduce by-products, like greenhouse
gases, sulphide, methane and micropollutants, which are harmful to the
environment and city sewerage infrastructure.
Researchers are also developing practical decision support tools to
evaluate environmental impact versus operational costs, including
cost–benefit analysis, benchmarking tools and scenario modelling.
Importantly, scientists are learning to connect their science to policy
through clearer communication of policy inputs.
These policy and technical innovations will improve the quality of
treated wastewater, which returns to the water catchment areas that are
our water sources. In addition, this work will position Europe as a
leader in wastewater policy as the water security debate intensifies.