This Marie Curie network coordinated by LEQUIA has allowed carrying out 15 research projects on urban water systems along 4 years.
The final conference entitled “Towards a sustainable and integrated urban water management in Europe and beyond: from science to policy” was held on Friday 18th September at the headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament Representation offices in Barcelona.
Researchers could present the results of their work within the framework of current European water policies and strategies.
Developing new strategies for energy savings in membrane bioreactors, elucidating the parameters that regulate the biodegradation of certain pollutants in wastewater, understanding how heavy metals interfere with biogas production, or studying the feasibility of the integrated rehabilitation of Yarqon river in Israel: these are some of the challenges that SANITAS researchers have had to deal with during the past four years. The same challenges that are behind the works presented in the conference “Towards a sustainable and integrated urban water management in Europe and beyond: from science to policy” held on September 18th in Barcelona.
A Europe-wide project
SANITAS (Sustainable and Integrated Urban Water System Management) is a Marie Curie ITN funded under the VII Framework Program of the European Commission. Initiated in 2011 and coordinated by the Laboratory of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (LEQUIA) of the University of Girona, the project has built up a powerful training and research network of 15 researchers of 12 different nationalities carrying out a research work on different aspects of urban water systems from an inter-disciplinary and integrated perspective. An approach adopted to develop sustainable solutions to tackle climate change challenges.
The consortium is integrated by prestigious institutions and enterprises within the water field at the international level: ACCIONA Agua, AQUAFIN (Belgium), University of Exeter (UK), Catalan Institute on Water Research, University of Ghent (Belgium), University of Lund (Sweeden), Technical University of Denmark, University of Wageningen (The Netherlands) and Yarqon river authority in Israel.
Science and EU policies in the final conference
In the final conference entitled “Towards a sustainable and integrated urban water management in Europe and beyond: from science to policy”, research outputs were presented within the framework of current EU water policies and the challenges identified by the Water European Innovation Partnership. The event – which was opened by Dr Joaquim Comas from LEQUIA research group, the project coordinator – was held at the headquarter of the European Commission and European Parliament Representation in Barcelona and brought together more than 50 people. Communications were grouped into 4 thematic panels: water, wastewater treatment and reuse; water-energy nexus; water governance and ecosystems services; and decision support systems and monitoring. To close the conference, a round-table moderated by Dr Gustaf Olsson, Professor Emeritus of Lund University, allowed discussing about the future of water management in the cities from an inter-disciplinary perspective.
The next generation of professionals within the water sector
In addition to the scientific results, the project ends having contributed to the creation of a next generation of water professionals able to respond to the future challenges of climate change and sustainability. Four years ago, the 15 SANITAS research fellows explained their main motivations to join the network: “work with other leading research groups and industry”, “initiate an international career”, “meet other professionals and other cultures” or “doing something beneficial for both the society and the environment”. Only by following their future professional career we’ll know if these expectancies are fully satisfied.