Examples for this vital input are the conferences on “Groundwater Management in the Danube River Basin and Other Large River Basins” (Belgrade), “Water Loss” (Bucharest) and “Design, Operation and Costs of Large Wastewater Plants” (Vienna).
Belgrade: Focus on resource protection The aim of the Belgrade conference held in early June was to prepare the foundation for groundwater management in the large river basins with a view to protecting water resources. Experts mainly focused on the Danube, for which according to the Water Framework Directive a transnational river basin management plan needs to be developed. Because of the complexity of the issue, the IWA Conference – hosted by the Serbian government in conjunction with the Serbian Academy of Sciences and the Arts and the Jaroslav Cerni Institute in Belgrade – also received IAWD, ICPDR and UNESCO support.
Milan Dimkic and Miodrag Milovanovic from the Jaroslav Cerni Institute were particularly pleased that in addition to the large national and European audience also experts from the US, Korea, India and Egypt attended the conference. This allowed a sound comparison of water management in different countries. The following issues were also discussed at the conference:
- transport and changes of certain substances in groundwater/groundwater protection;
- use and maintenance of groundwater abstraction facilities;
- groundwater recharge and bank filtration;
- natural dilution and aquifer restoration;
- tools (e.g. mathematical models) for assessing groundwater problems.
Because of the overwhelming feedback, at the end of the conference it was decided to publish a book on “Groundwater Management in Large River Basins”, which will be addressed to experts and decision-makers. The book will be written by Heinz-Jürgen Brauch, Milan A. Dimkic and Michael C. Kavanaugh (as well as other authors) and presented at the 2008 IWA World Water Congress in Vienna.
Vienna: The latest in wastewater technology This is also the theme of the Conference on Large Wastewater Treatment Plants which was first launched at the Vienna University of Technology 36 years ago and, of course, is also dedicated to the economical operation of these masterpieces of technology. The conference, with its venue traditionally alternating between Budapest, Prague and Vienna every four years, was again held in the Austrian capital in September and posed a challenge to the organisational skills of Helmut Kroiss and Karl Svardal and their team. The IWA Specialist Group on Large Wastewater Treatment Plants chaired by Harro Bode was responsible for programme development.
Attracting more than 300 visitors from 45 countries, the conference hit an all-time record both in terms of the number of participants and its international bias. One novelty at this year’s conference may have set the trend for the 2008 IWA Congress in Vienna. For the first time wastewater treatment plant managers were integrated in the event, who usually have little time to spend on scientific publications and are therefore more interested in a direct exchange of knowhow.
The Vienna Conference addressed these needs by offering four specialised workshops, in which also Laszlo Papp, Director of Operations at the Vienna Main Wastewater Treatment Plant, was involved. Another novelty was that for the first time IWA’s Young Water Professionals (YWP) received their own category in the conference registration process.
Bucharest: Fighting water losses The declared goal of IWA’s Water Loss Task Force (WLTF) is to fight against water losses in the distribution network. Organising the Water Loss 2007 Conference in Bucharest first appeared to be a risk, but eventually turned out a great success. The event that took place in September surpassed all expectations, boasting a huge audience (300 delegates from 45 countries), a flawless organisation by ARA under its President Vasile Ciomos, and a range of interesting topics, which were mostly owed to the Austrian water loss expert Roland Liemberger being in charge of the programme. Austrian water suppliers, however, were rather poorly represented.
Only the Vienna Waterworks used the time in Bucharest to exchange information and share their experiences. Clearly more Austrian delegates came from Austrian industry (such as no-dig specialist Rabmer Bau, leakage system provider MMV and hammerer systemmesstechnik) and from the scientific sector (BOKU Vienna and TU Graz).
For Roland Liemberger, the lack of interest displayed by water suppliers primarily results from the abundant amounts of water which Austria is blessed with. Because of this abundance, he says, many utilities tend to take the problem of water loss a bit too easy. “Since water loss rates in Austria vary greatly, suppliers may soon be in for trouble with their attitude. It is a likely scenario that politicians suddenly demand our natural resources should be used more efficiently,” says Liemberger, for whom this will remain an important issue also during Vienna 2008.
(Source: aqua press Int. 4/2007, Mag. Christof Hahn)