Water & Health Seminar: rewarding scientific excellence and anticipating change

(c)SUEZ/William Daniels

The 11th edition of the International Water & Health Seminar takes place from 24 to 26 June 2019 in Cannes, France. Organised by SUEZ and the Universities of Lorraine (France) and Bonn (Germany), the event offers some twenty international PhD students the opportunity to present their theses to academics and industry players.

Jean-Francois Loret, head of the Health and Environment department at SUEZ and a member of the jury, takes a look at the seminar’s key issues and practical applications.


What key research topics does the Water & Health Seminar address?

Development of water, sanitation and waste management services since the end of the 19th century has played a considerable role in public health, helping to increase life expectancy and reduce infant mortality rates.

Even today, ensuring an irreproachable water service requires constant attention and adaptation.  For water is a fragile resource that is affected by many factors including human activity, climate change, and technological and socioeconomic progress. To adapt to these changes, water treatment experts conduct scientific watch to anticipate and prevent health risks associated with water. In this context, the Water & Health Seminar addresses a great number of key scientific (microbiology, chemistry, toxicology), technical (water treatment processes) and sociodemographic challenges.


Can you give us a few practical applications in terms of water treatment?

Although these challenges have essentially remained the same since the Seminar began in 2009, scientific knowledge is constantly being called into question. New toxicology data, for example, can have a direct impact on regulatory developments and, consequently, on the water treatment methods that must be adopted. Yet construction of a water production plant is incorporated in a vision that spans tens of years.

By enabling researchers, scientists and industry players to share information more easily, the Water & Health Seminar allows us to anticipate developments in scientific data, changes to the environment, and the needs of water service operators.

Also, the adoption of circular economy approaches to water management, such as the reuse of wastewater or desalination, requires a new level of vigilance when it comes to managing health risks. On another note, the rise of digital technology to manage water services helps to step up surveillance of water production and distribution systems. The Water & Health Seminar brings together researchers working on new ways to measure the physical-chemical and microbiological quality of water on site and in real time using sensors that combine traditional measurement techniques and Big Data, which can be installed on production lines or water distribution networks.


Every year, a prize is awarded to one participant; how is the winner selected?

The Seminar provides the opportunity to reward the best contribution to improving water safety with its Water & Health award, presented during the event to one participant. The work of the winning PhD student is chosen for its scientific excellence, originality and capacity to meet a recent or future problem.


Find more information on the topics covered during the Seminar in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health published in May 2019.



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