WASTEWATER RESEARCH AND INDUSTRY SUPPORT FORUM
Meeting 25th March 2002
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In the light of information from the workshop on endocrine disrupters that was part of the last meeting of the forum, and recent publicity on the subject, it was decided to review the ROCK (Review Of Current Knowledge) ‘Endocrine disrupters in the environment’ to see whether it should be updated. The ROCK ‘Sewage Sludge Disposal: Operational and Environmental Issues’ will also be reviewed. Both ROCKs are excellent concise reviews.
The contributions of several recent meetings and developments on the subject of integrated urban water management (IUWM) were reviewed. Pundits say climate change is happening and predict with confidence that the most likely consequence in UK will be wetter winters and drier summers with increased frequency of extreme weather-events. [The alternative is that melting arctic ice will turn off the Atlantic Conveyor and plunge the UK into very much colder temperatures.] Increased winter rainfall of more frequent extreme intensity will cause river-induced sewer-flooding. There is a difficult to designing for this eventuality without reliable models for hydraulic loads or planned asset life. When sewers overflow roads become the minor drainage, but they are not planned to drain to the major surface drainage, i.e. rivers. There is a need to map flooding routes. SUDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) cannot provide all of the answers. There is going to be huge investment in flood prevention and avoidance and for maximum cost-effectiveness this needs to be integrated between urban and rural initiatives. Rural land management can increase rainwater infiltration so that less goes to surface drainage, and attenuate and modulate flow to rivers, thus avoiding or reducing the need for flood defences in urban areas (and their aesthetic and financial cost). It was agreed that a workshop in September 2002 would be timely; its finding would report to WaPUG (Wastewater Planning User Group) in November 2002.
One of the challenges for society is to link knowledge and society. This has been the subject of a Euro-CASE project (www.euro-case.org ) and is linked to the 2002 BBC Reith lectures. Public participation, worldwide media, campaigning groups, vested interests and a climate of suspicion has meant that some major policy decisions have not been based on sound science and have not been in the best interests of sustainability. Disseminating reliable knowledge to society is essential for sustainable development and it was agreed that FWR has a role in this. Consideration will be given to participating in a book and web site for 7-12 year-olds “Where does the poo go when you flush the loo”. It has potential to link with a wide range of aspects of the National Curriculum.
Developments of GREAT-ER (Geography Related Exposure Assessment Tool – European Rivers) were discussed. It is an integration of existing software tools for hydrologists. It has developed water quality / environmental risk assessment. The next development will deal with diffuse inputs of pollutants. Work is progressing on developing a hydrological model for groundwater in relation to the Water Framework Directive. GREAT-ER II is far ahead of the rest of Europe and should have good export potential, possibly through the Water Topic Centre of which WRc is a member.
The Forum thanked John Tyson for all of his work in the past as Technical Secretary, this was the first meeting at which Tim Evans tried to shoulder John’s mantle. The Forum wished John well for the future and hoped that he would continue to contribute to FWR’s work.