Water quality and species monitoring, efficient water use and data-led solutions

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Moderator: Dragan Savic (Chief Executive Officer, KWR Watercycle Research Institute)

This session will include the speakers: Funmi Eyeoyibo (Sun Union Development, Lagos, Nigeria), Michiel Zandt (KWR Water Research, the Netherlands) and Thomas Hes (Waternet/ Utrecht University, Faculty of Science, Department of Computer Science)

Take a look at the abstracts below:

Adaptive & Resilient Design of Water Infrastructure: Water Quality, Flooding and Drought: A Case for Efficient Use of Water Stored in Dams in Nigeria

Presenting author: Funmi Eyeoyibo

Nigeria has over 200 dams, built for the specific purposes of water supply, hydro-electric power generation, flood control and irrigation. However, over the years, the dams have not been utilised efficiently. A study (Magbagbeola, O. A., 2015) has shown that the water stored in the dams is not being used for the purposes for which they were built. The consequence is that the states, downstream of the dams, experience seasonal flooding, occasioned by water releases from the dams during the rainy season, when the ground is already saturated. The adjoining communities lack potable water and even water for good sanitary hygiene. They also lack electricity for households and economic development. This gap has far-reaching negative effects on the pursuit of the SDGs in Nigeria.

The country is faced with a myriad of developmental challenges in the energy, water, transport and agriculture sectors. Only 26.5 per cent of the Nigerian population has access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities (UNICEF, 2021). The use of contaminated drinking water, poor sanitary conditions and flooding result in increased vulnerability to water-borne diseases, such as the recent outbreak of cholera in some parts of the country. This situation has been further exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic and the requirement for frequent hand washing. Nigeria’s economic potential is also constrained by many structural issues, including inadequate water infrastructure. Indeed, the pace of electricity infrastructure development in the county is very slow and power supply remains highly inadequate (CSEA, 2021), resulting in a very high unemployment rate in the country, as many industries have either closed down or relocated production lines to neighbouring countries.

Also, dam-related flooding, experienced downstream of dams, has become a major problem (Olajuyigbe et al., 2012) that could be attributed to inefficient use of water stored in dam reservoirs (Magbagbeola, O. A., 2015) and has been further aggravated by climate change. Although the government, at the Federal and State levels, has continued to put in place policies and plans in the water sector, there has not been an effective integration of the policies and plans as a result of overlapping and conflicting roles of Departments, Agencies and Ministries.

This paper, therefore, seeks to draw attention to the yawning gap in the usage of the dams for the purposes for which they were built and to advocate an effective integrated water resources management as an adaptive mechanism to promote SDG 6 in Nigeria. The study further reveals the over-looked investment opportunities and untapped resources in Nigeria’s water sector. Exploring these will promote the achievement of the SDGs, thereby ensuring the fulfillment of the SDG slogan “leaving no one behind”, especially in Nigeria’s critical water secto

Novel insights and technologies for monitoring and improving water quality in a recirculating greenhouse system

Presenting author: Michiel Zandt

The European Water Framework Directive and following national environmental legislation forces the greenhouse industry to close the water cycle at the company level, by increased reuse of drain water. As complete recirculation is obliged from 2027 onwards, growers are challenged to manage the availability, quality and safety of the recirculated waterRecurrent use of water may cause a build-up of a variety of organic compounds and this may affect plant growth, performance and food safety directly or indirectly via microbial activity. Currently, however, there is not enough knowledge on the composition of the recirculated organic matter fractions and how these fractions affect the microbial composition, including plant pathogens and its interactions with the plant. Since these factors affect crop health, yield and safety, enhanced knowledge on the mechanisms for interaction will help improve crop performance as well as food safety. Furthermore, it can direct applied treatments to selectively remove any problematic organic matter fractions. A study on rapid water quality parameters with water from horticulture showed that the addition of specific fractions of organic matter to the nutrient solution of substrate-grown tomatoes resulted in a more resilient microbial community in the rhizosphere. Microbial growth parameters (heterotrophic plate count (HPC) and ATP-analysis) indicated an increase in microbial activity in drain water compared to the nutrient solution. This work highlighted thatHPC provides a solid parameter to monitor water quality from feeding source to water treatment, but generating results with these method takes three days. In contrast, ATP measurements or flow cytometry provide similar insights within minutes.For effective and efficient assessment of crop performance and food safety, there is a need for rapid screening methods to gain insights in horticulture water quality.Using next-generation sequencing (NGS) we could find significant effects on the bacterial composition in the rhizosphere after addition of plant-pathogenic Fusarium oxysporum. These findings highlight the potential to steer rhizosphere microbiology to maintain a healthy and safe cultivation system, but detailed information on the effects of specific fractions of organic matter is currently lacking.Overall, we conclude that water reuse has a great potential for a circular horticultural system, but that rapid and effective insights into the effects of recirculation water are crucial to guarantee crop performance in a closed irrigation system.Future research aims at developing rapid screening methods for microbiology and organic matter to be able to manage crop performance parameters for improved crop health and yield.

Towards digital sustainability performance management – A framework for designing data-driven sustainability performance management systems at water utilities

Presenting author: Thomas Hes

Despite the abundance of literature on sustainable development, sustainability has not entered the realm of decision makers sufficiently (Villeneuve et al., 2017). This may be because sustainability assessment is complex (Sala et al., 2015), making it all the more challenging for organizations to work on. Nevertheless, organizations becoming more sustainable is ever more urgent for the well-being of our planet and reaching climate targets (IPCC, 2021). A solution to this observed complexity could be a so- called Sustainability Performance Management System (SPMS), which integrates “sustainability dimensions and a performance management system (PMS), in order to incorporate all sustainability goals into a company’s strategy” (Hristov & Chirico, 2019). Such a system could offer automated and data-driven insights with regards to organizational sustainability performance.

In this research a framework for designing SPMSs at water utilities is developed. The framework consists of three tools that can be used to this end. The first tool is a conceptual model of sustainability in the context of SPMSs (figure 1), which can be used to understand related concepts. The second is a repository of sustainability indicators from which appropriate measures can be selected for use in the SPMS. The last tool is an SPMS design method, which was engineered from several related methods in established literature, such as materiality assessment and balanced scorecard methodology

The framework was applied at Waternet, the water cycle utility of Amsterdam and surrounding areas, to design and build a prototype SPMS. This involved a participative design workshop with asset managers and sustainability experts, as well as an assessment of available documentation on Waternet’s sustainability strategy. The prototype is built in Microsoft Power BI, and uses source data from Waternet’s processes and assets (e.g. sensors and logs) in order to generate tangible performance measures with regards to sustainability. The incorporated sustainability balanced scorecard (figure 2) can utilize these measures to automatically calculate overall progress towards Waternet’s strategic sustainability objectives (for the data it is provided with). Other tabs in the system provide drill-down functionality, so that users can filter and transform the data to their needs (figure 3). The system has the potential to automate sustainability assessment activities of all kinds and serves as a real-time dashboard for sustainability related data within Waternet, making sustainability more tangible and accessible.

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