Delft, The Netherlands, 05 Oct 2018

PhD Symposium 'Nature for Water'

This year’s theme of the annual PhD Symposium (1-2 October) was 'Nature for Water: Overcoming Water Challenges with Sustainable Solutions'. The PhD community of IHE Delft and partner institutions shared and debated novelties and limitations of their research in 4 research sessions. The symposium’s programme included 22 oral presentations, 12 poster presentations and informative workshops and concluded with a recap discussion.

Key notes

The 2018 UN Water theme 'Nature for Water' provided a platform for IHE Delft's PhD fellows to discuss possible nature based solutions for the water challenges we face in the 21st century.  Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human usage. Today, more than 2.1 billion people live without drinking water at home and climate driven extreme events, such as the recent earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and subsidence pose pressures for low lying coastal areas. These water challenges have obvious effects on the health and education sectors and affect the livelihood of future generations.

The Symposium was opened by Professor Charlotte de Fraiture, Vice Rector of IHE Delft, followed by presentations of key note speakers Dr. Bregje van Wesenbeeck (Deltares) and Assistant Professor Dr. David Zetland (Leiden University). Van Wesenbeeck explained the five principles for implementing nature based solutions: system-scale perspective, risk and benefit assessment, standardized performance evaluation, integration with ecosystem conservation and restoration and adaptive management. "These principles look great on paper, but often pose challenges for implementation regarding planning, design, construction and maintenance of projects," says Van Wesenbeeck.

Dr. David Zetland stressed that science needs to be better communicated to bridge the gap with decision makers. He alerted the audience that if nothing is done to radically reduce the effects of climate change, we will be trapped in a cycle of continously spending and compromising to defend ourselves.

On the second day of the Symposium, key note speakers Ir. Vincent Vuik (Delft University of Technology) and Dr. Peter van der Steen (IHE Delft) shared their views on the theme. Dr. Vuik's research findings showed the extent to which vegetation provides wave reduction which stabilizes low lying foreshores. However, the extent of the reduction depends on the available space and volume of sediment supplied to the area. His research also provided applicable examples of the benefits of hybrid solutions, such as the vegetation on dykes. Peter van der Steen spoke about a new treatment technology for Photo-activated Sludge. There is a huge need for reinforcing treatment capacity of the existing systems. "Without such measures, we risk contaminating the drinking water supply with obvious implications for health sector", says van der Steen.

Best poster award and oral presentation

This year's the Best Poster Award was given to Ms. Nadezhda Zalivina for her research on ‘Nitrogen removal from side streams using algal anaerobic ammonium oxidation with ion exchange (ALGAMMIX)’. Downlowd poster hereThe best oral presenters were Antonella Piaggio, Jonatan Godinez Madrigal, Uwe S.N. Best and Natalia Uribe. Abstracts of their research can be downloaded below.

Antonella Piaggo: Anaerobic Digestion couple with Dissolved Air Flotation for wastewater treatment and reuse: AD-DAF. Download 
Jonatan Godinez Madrigal: The politics of urban water transitions: the role of science-policy processes in the conflict of the Zapotillo Dam, Mexico. Download
Uwe Best: Modelling the impact of sea level rise on the geomorphological evolution of mangrove-belt-mudflat coastlines. Download
Natalia Uribe: Impact of conservation tillage on nitrogen and phosphorus runoff losses in a potato crop system in Fuquene watershed, Colombia. Download

The Organizing Committee for this year’s Symposium consisted of Clara Lines, Uwe Best, Saowanit Prabnakorn and Alessandro Cattapan.


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