About the Editor

Name and title(s): 

Jiri Wanner, MSc. (Eng.), Ph.D., D.Sc.

Full professor of water technology, University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, CZ

IWA Distinguished Fellow

Former chairman of specialist groups MEWE and DOC of LWWTP

Areas of expertise:

Wastewater treatment and reuse, activated sludge process, nutrient removal.

Jiri Wanner has edited various books on wastewater treatement, including the bestselling Activated Sludge - 100 Years and Counting and the forthcoming second edition of Activated Sludge Separation Problems: Theory, Control Measures, Practical Experiences.

 

Questions

This year will be the 14th Leading Edge Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies (LET 2017). Why is this event important?

I have been following the topics of IWA LET conferences since 2003 when I was lecturing at the first conference in Noordwijk (NL) and when I helped Jonathan Clement to organize the 2nd IWA LET Conference in Prague (CZ), 2004. Since that times the LET conferences have been always a unique forum for discussing the newest issues, formulating new tasks and discussing the future trends. I always stressed that those conferences were dealing with water and wastewater treatment issues hand in hand. The latest development in wastewater treatment technology proved that the border between drinking water and wastewater treatment is disappearing step by step. Modern wastewater treatment plants are using in the so-called tertiary treatment (water polishing) and quaternary treatment (removal of pharmaceuticals, hormones, pathogens, viruses, bacterial resistance, etc.) processes and operation formerly typical only for drinking water plants. This complex approach to water technology makes this conference series so exceptional and important.

 

This year, LET 2017 is dedicated to technology solutions in the water-energy-food interface. What do you think/hope this will achieve?

 The link between water technology and food production is obvious. Most of human food originates from agriculture which needs a lot of water for producing crops both for human consumption and for feeding farm animals. More and more areas on the Globe are suffering from lack of fresh water and the effluents of wastewater treatment plants are becoming natural alternative resources of water for irrigation. I hope the conference will deal with all safety factors (both chemical and biological) of such kind of wastewater reuse. The LET 2017 programme indicates that this will be the case and the more I am eager to learn the main conclusions form this year conference. Wastewater has been always considered also as a source of energy and it will be interesting to follow the development also in this area.

 

What, for you, has been the most significant or exciting development in water and wastewater technologies in recent years? 

In my field of wastewater treatment I can see three quite remarkable moments in the development of wastewater sector:

  1. A complete change in wastewater collection and treatment paradigm. The main task of this sector is no more to collect rapidly sewage and storm water, treat the mixture and discharge it safely to the receiving waters. Storm water is now considered to be a water resource and it should be processed and reused separately from sewage and industrial wastewater. The same is valid for wastewater which is no more processed just as a nuisance but is treated with the aim of its reuse. And this is the point where water and wastewater treatment processes and technologies finally met together.
  2. During my professional career I have been witnessing a tremendous development of wastewater microbiology. It was an exciting way from classical cultivation techniques and optical microscopy via simple gene probes (FISH techniques) up to various modern tools of molecular microbiology which help not only to more exact identification of important organisms, but also to much better understanding of processes governing biological water and wastewater treatment.
  3. Another remarkable thing is that after more than 100 years since its invention the activated sludge process is still the most versatile, most efficient and most cost-effective solution to absolute majority of wastewater problems in the world. The modern modifications of activated sludge process coupled with sophisticated secondary clarifiers or even membranes represent for the design and planning engineers such a level of certainty which cannot be reached so far by any of new “trendy” processes with often fancy names. Thus I think the development in near future should try to use the activated sludge process as a solid and reliable background for applying new processes which may overcome the drawbacks of activated sludge process such as slow nitrification or low efficiency in removal of emerging organic micropollutants. 

 

Find out more about LET 2017 here.

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