Gearing Up for Our Final Annual Meeting
Our Winter 2019-20 newsletter has just been published and can be downloaded here:
In this edition, you will read that the Sullied Sediments project partnership will meet for the third and final time in Belgium in January. On 14-15 January 2020, project beneficiaries and our Advisory Group will gather in Antwerp to discuss and share the key developments and findings that are coming out of the project.
The work package leads, along with contributing partners and our PhD students, will present how their research is allowing for the better assessment and treatment of sediment in our inland waterways and how their work is helping to prevent further contamination from selected Watch List chemicals. Many of our advisory partners are in fact end-users so it is critical that they find out about and understand the innovations coming out of our project so they can help us to widen their uptake across the water sector. Innovations so far include a first-of-its kind database which provides information about the presence and levels of Watch List chemicals and other potentially hazardous substances in the North Sea Region, pollen grains that can be adapted to strip chemicals from waste water, and an easy-to-use dipstick that enables volunteers to test their local waterways for phosphate.
All of this work has been carried out over the past three years and we are looking forward to discussing as a partnership how the benefits of our research can be shared transnationally. A full report on the annual meeting will be published in our next newsletter. Stay tuned!
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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