Update - May 2019
Since our last update, the Sullied Sediments project has made significant progress on a number of activities and deliverables, which moves us closer to achieving our project objectives relating to the better assessment, better treatment and better prevention of chemical contamination in our waterways. Below is a summary of the key achievements over the past six months:
Work Package 3 Sediment Assessment (WP3-SA)
In April 2019, another successful round of sampling was carried out and our last round is planned for June. As a reminder, in each round, sediment samples are extracted from nine locations across the Elbe, Humber and Scheldt river catchments. The data that we are gathering is helping us to identify the levels and locations of the Watch List (WL) chemicals we are concerned with as well as Priority Substances (which have proven to be a risk to or via the aquatic environment). Collecting data on the latter helps with interpreting the data on the WL chemicals. All of the information is fed into a large database which we are sharing with water industry partners and using to produce a number of reports, including one on the pollutant pressures in our target waterways and another on the impact of these substances on the wider environment. Also as part of WP3-SA, we are making progress on developing new methods for characterising the WL chemicals, diclofenac, triclosan and estradiol, which will be validated once completed.
Work Package 4 Clean-up Pilot (WP4-CU)
Extraction methods using the sporopollenin exine capsules (SpECs) for the same three WL chemicals above have been identified. A method has also been developed for phosphate. These methods are now being tested on mixed systems, including samples combining two analytes, spiked river water samples and possibly synthetic sewage. A protocol for studying the reduced bioavailability of WL chemicals when adsorbed (locked away) onto SpECs has been finalised and partners across the region are conducting the necessary experiments. In addition, the end-of-waste assessment, which promotes an increase in the use of treated sediment, is well underway and will be available for end-users soon.
Work Package 5 Changing Citizens' Behaviour (WP5-CB)
The paper analytic device (PAD), or ‘dipstick’, is able to detect phosphate in water samples and we are now working on a device that will detect triclosan to the required levels. To recap, the PADs are used by volunteers to take readings from samples collected from their local waterways. In order to capture the results from these samples, we have created an app, called RiverDip, that is easy to use and can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Play Store. So far, sampling workshops have taken place in Humber catchment and these will continue. Over the course of the summer and autumn, we will be rolling the volunteer programme out in the other catchment areas. In addition to this, the PADs and app have also been tested on agricultural surface waters by colleagues working on the NuReDrain project.
If you have any questions about our project, please contact our Project Coordinator, Annabel Hanson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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