THEME 4: WATER QUALITY AND HEALTH
The supply of safe and clean drinking water and the management of sanitation and wastewater continue to be challenged by the global trends of rapid unplanned urbanisation, climate change-related extreme weather events and increasing human mobility. As a result, water security remains out of reach for billions of people in a range of socio-economic settings. The dedicated Sustainable Development Goal for water and sanitation (SDG6) projects a “One Water” vision with targets that merge universal access to services, incremental progress in water quality and service reliability, water use efficiency and service affordability, integrated management of water resources and protection of the integrity of aquatic ecosystems.
In parallel, the health sector tries to cope with the global challenge of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – the aquatic environment plays a key role in resistance development, whether through exposure of microbes to antibiotic residues released with human and animal waste, gene exchange mechanisms in wastewater treatment plants or contamination of water sources near pharmaceutical industries. A 2016 report estimated the current annual global death rate due to AMR at 700,000 and predicted this would mount to 10 million deaths by 2050. The “One Health” concept aims to rally human public health, veterinary public health, animal health and ecosystem health professionals around the AMR theme and other cross-cutting health issues.
Developing a systems approach to water and sanitation management is now vital to achieving the SDG6 targets, with water quality management as one of the critical building blocks and supported by an integrated research, policy and practice framework.
New technologies at the level of molecular genetics allow us to better detect, identify and trace the sources of pathogens in source water and water distribution systems. Water and sanitation safety plans provide a systematic approach to specific risk analysis and management along the drinking water and sanitation chains. These plans are increasingly formulated and applied, supported by quality control and auditing mechanisms. Lack of data still represents a key challenge to current monitoring and modelling efforts that inform effective risk management. Poor management of urban and industrial wastewater continues to threaten surface water quality despite efforts to regulate and control point-source pollution over the past few decades. At the same time, diffuse pollution from agricultural production systems and animal waste calls for urgent solutions. Economic analyses increasingly support a shift to re-use and recycling: the circular economy translates the concept of the hydrological cycle into economic opportunities, combined with green infrastructure, upgrading of obsolete urban water and sanitation systems and hydraulic works resilient to extreme weather conditions.
Source management, integrated policy and regulatory frameworks, advanced and automated detection technologies, and contaminants of emerging significance -including microplastics and nano-materials- are central to this research theme. This is a call for papers directed at researchers, practitioners, policymakers and decision-makers dealing in the specific topics and sub-topics listed below:
- Systems Approach to Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Services
- Building blocks in master planning of water supply and sanitation service systems
- Actors on the water quality management stage: shifting roles, responsibilities and water quality interconnections at a time of transformation
- Across the spectrum: environmental water quality, drinking water quality, wastewater quality – assessment and management
- WSPs, SSPs, WASH normative guidance: standards, norms and good practices
- Policy, Regulatory and Institutional Frameworks Supporting Effective Drinking Water Quality Management
- Institutional arrangements and financial mechanisms to strengthen links between urban water users and rural water source managers
- Policy and regulatory framework for drinking water quality and protection: what is needed to transform a solid framework into a dynamic platform for effective action?
- Regulation as the engine for policy implementation, and tools to start and run the engine
- Contextual priority setting of service delivery criteria (access, availability, quality/safety, acceptability and affordability)
- Emerging Contaminants in Water
- Detection and management of microplastics pollution in water
- Antimicrobial resistance including AMR/ARG, PFAS, nanomaterials
- Water pollution and contamination indicators: recent progress in measurement and analysis
- Metagenomics and rapid detection methods for identification, classification and source detection of traditional and emerging microbial contaminants
- Wastewater Hazards, Risks, Treatment and Disinfections
- Wastewater disinfection: regulation, specification and appropriate technologies
- Microbial gene exchange in wastewater treatment environments as a significant source of antimicrobial resistance
- Disinfection-resistant pathogens
- New microbial indicators, including coliphages
- Reuse fit-for-purpose: criteria and protective measures for safe use of untreated, partially treated and treated wastewater
- Integration of Multiple Uses of Water Resources in Inner Catchments/Reservoirs
- Safe and reliable drinking water supply services
- Recreational water safety
- Aquifer safety in the light of changing patterns of animal husbandry
- Safe management of reservoirs: algal blooms, vector control and protection from pollution and contamination
- Water Quality in Distribution Systems and Buildings
- Impacts of plumbing as a source of corrosion metals (e.g. lead, copper, nickel and chromium)
- Microbial impacts from growth of biofilms including growth of Legionella, Pseudomonas and mycobacteria
- Identification and management of impacts
- Protecting water quality in distribution systems and buildings