The Sullied Sediments project was officially launched at a kick-off meeting in Amsterdam in January 2017. We were delighted to be joined by representatives from the Joint Secretariat, our beneficiaries (budgeted partners) and advisory partners for an in-depth discussion about the practical delivery of our project and the outputs, results and impact we are striving to achieve. It was a great opportunity to meet new colleagues and see the partnership come together for the first time. We are looking forward to the next three years!
Since the kick-off meeting, our work package leads and their colleagues have been hard at work on the first phases of delivery. Communication and coordination are key as partners based across the UK and in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
We are also in the process of planning our first annual meeting, which will be held in Hull, UK, from 25-27 September 2017. Hull is the UK's City of Culture this year so we are looking forward to welcoming our partners to the city and sharing this special occasion.
In addition to this, we will be starting to prepare for our first claim soon. Our aim is to submit our report by the end of year.
Many of the inland waterways in the European Union are under threat due to the introduction of Watch List chemicals that are not currently regulated under the European Water Framework Directive. These chemicals include the so-called “gender benders” such as estradiol and the contraceptive pill, and other pharmaceutical drugs such as triclosan and diclofenac, which have been shown to be harmful to wildlife. These chemicals are introduced to our waterways as a result of our day-to-day activities and through industry. Regardless of the source, they accumulate in the sediments in our rivers and canals.
Water regulators and managing authorities do not always know the levels, the locations or the impacts of these pollutants. Nor do they have the tools to assess sediments confidently and make decisions with regard to managing them. An interdisciplinary partnership of scientific experts, regulators and water managers led by the University of Hull (UK) will develop and test new tools to better assess, treat and prevent contamination from these chemicals. This work will be carried out at nine sites, all of which have a history of sediment problems, in the North Sea Region’s Elbe, Humber and Scheldt river catchments.
The aim of the ‘Sullied Sediments’ project is therefore to enable regulators and water managers to make better decisions with regard to sediment management, removal and disposal, thereby reducing economic costs and the impact of these pollutants on the environment.
The partnership will also endeavour to reduce the amount of chemicals entering the water system by raising awareness about what we, as consumers, are releasing into the environment through the use of common drugs and household products. Part of this includes the involvement of volunteers in a sediment sampling initiative across the region, which will inform and empower these citizens as water stewards and champions.
‘Sullied Sediments’ has been has been co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg VB North Sea Region Programme with a grant of 2.043.413 € with equivalent match funding from the partners involved. The project partnership includes public, private and third sector organisations based in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.