Water Challenges


Convener: Amit Gross, BIDR


Sanitation coverage is still a challenge in many parts of the World, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with rapidly expanding cities. Safe wastewater treatment and other organic waste such as excreta and manure management represents a growing challenge, generating significant negative public health and environmental risks. Topics such as (but limited) implementation of technologies for small scale wastewater/wet organic waste treatment within decentralized sanitation; health and environmental risks characterization; risk assessment, standards and standardization will be accepted.


Convener: Christopher Arnusch, BGU


Advances in water treatment technology are supported by innovation in materials and exploration of non-conventional approaches to address the still unmet challenges. The concept of structured or functional materials and surfaces in environmental technology is a concept that might impact new emerging water treatment technologies. Accepted topics can include for example, advanced functional materials in membrane and separation technology designed to address challenges such as (bio)fouling, concentration polarisation, selectivity, and resource harvesting.


Co-Conveners: Dina Zilberg, BGU, and Amit Gross, BIDR


Food security, specifically in water scarce regions, is a local and global aim which with climate change and sustainability issues requires innovative solutions.

Many Arid regions including Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East are presently characterized by rapid population growth and urbanization that goes hand in hand with loss of agricultural land. Hence, suitable production practices should be tailor made for the increased population density resulting with an increasing demand for agriculture products. Aquaculture practices have substantial potential to expand and supply the above increasing demand. In addition, aquaculture uses a significant amount of water and produces various types of effluents. When correctly handled, it can be recycled as a source of water, energy, feed and/or nutrients. In other words waste generated in aquaculture can be managed to promote a global circular water economy and advance sustainable management practices. Currently, there is an enormous need for high quality products grown next to the customer, that can be grown sustainably with limited resources (i.e. water, nutrients and energy) and with minimal environmental footprint.
This session is aimed to present sustainable, next generation solutions for aquaculture production, such as (but not limited) to novel production systems, aquafeeds, and sustainable aquatic animal health approaches.


Convener: Elli Groner, Arava


Research about flood and run-off in arid environmental. Floods in semi-arid, arid and hyper-arid areas have their own characteristics that include their unpredictability, the fact that the wadies are dry most of the year and that this combination can lead to severe damages including in life. The need to understand floods is greater than ever. We welcome any presentation on flood related research including hydrology, geology, ecology, meteorology, agriculture, geography and related disciplines.


Co-Conveners: Inna Khozin-Goldberg, BIDR, and Dina Zilberg, BGU


Significant increase in biomass productivity needed to reach economic viability of algal production. Algal cultivation has great potential for recovery of nutrient and carbon resources from waste and side streams. Coupling wastewater treatment, remediation and reuse for biomass production contributes the circular bio-economy for improved resource management, in particular in arid environments. Microalgae that show robust performance under harsh conditions are also highly efficient in nutrient removal. Sustainability of algal cultivation can be improved by increasing the efficacy of production and, on the other hand, by selecting species which produce high-value compounds with health benefits for humans and animals. Moreover, algae produce a wide range of unique metabolites with features that can support and promote the production of plants and fish. Microalgae can be cultured by sustainable methods thus providing these metabolites from natural source with lesser environmental impact. This session will present different approaches to increase sustainability and efficacy of algal production and its application. It will discuss future perspectives and biotechnological applications of algae.


Convener: Jack Gilron, BIDR


Climate change is already occurring and is driving catastrophic changes in many regions including more frequent droughts. The ability to preserve agriculture and food security in arid regions is challenged by the need to find and recover water from a variety of sources, including groundwater and residual moisture in the air, while maintaining a minimal carbon footprint. Greenhouse agriculture can be practiced in a manner that reduces the overall water and carbon footprint for the crop growth. This requires innovative desalination schemes and the use of water vapor capture where possible. This session will discuss various strategies for water production and water capture to preserve agriculture in arid conditions.


Convener: Jack Gilron, BIDR


Energy and water are inextricably linked. This interconnectedness has been the topic of much analysis research that aims to identify opportunities to limit water and energy consumption in the provision of these two societal pillars. “ (J. Dunne)

This session will look at how renewables can be integrated with water management and water production to minimize the carbon footprint associated with human activity in arid regions. The issue of maximal efficiency in use of local water resources to reduce energy costs of distribution will also be considered as will recovery of energy from wastewater.


Convener: Ron Kasher, BIDR


Membrane-based water treatment technologies such as reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and ultrafiltration play key roles in seawater and brackish water desalination, industrial waste treatment, and surface water purification. These technologies are highly efficient in terms of energy consumption and transport properties. Nevertheless, a continuing challenge remains – membrane fouling - which is the accumulation of organic and biological matter on the membrane surface and its clogging. This session will be focused on (i) design and development of membrane surfaces that resist fouling, (ii) antifouling mechanisms, and (iii) new strategies for anti-fouling membrane modifications.


Convener: Osnat Gillor, BIDR


The ability to identify and trace fecal indicators and water-borne pathogens to the point of origin has major ramifications for the water industry, regulatory agencies, and public health. Such information would enable access to safe water by better understanding the sources of contamination and thereby take corrective actions to prevent contamination. Microbial source tracking is widely used to determine sources of fecal contamination in waterways utilizing tools for tracking both fecal and water-borne pathogens contamination in water sources. Approaches to MST are commonly classified as library -dependent or -independent methods using cutting edge molecular techniques. These tools could have widespread applications, including the use for regulatory compliance, pollution remediation, and risk assessment that would potentially reduce the incidence of water associated illness. This session will describe the recent highlights and future directions of microbial diagnostic and molecular microbial source tracking to understand the source and transmission of water-borne pathogens.


Convener: Osnat Gillor, BIDR


An understanding of the transport and survival of microbial pathogens in the environment is needed to assess the risk of pathogen contamination to water and food, and to develop control strategies and treatment options. However, many knowledge gaps still remain in predicting the fate and transport of pathogens in surface water, through the vadose zone and in groundwater. A number of transport pathways, processes, factors, and mathematical models were developed to explore pathogen fate in these environments. The level of complexity is dramatically enhanced by variability in pathogen migration pathways, leading to changes in the dominant processes that control pathogen transport over different spatial and temporal scales. Under wet conditions pathogens can survive for extended periods of time thorough various transport events, yet retaining viability and quickly resuscitating when conditions are favorable. Conversely, in dry conditions, pathogen transport depends more strongly on retention at diverse environmental surfaces controlled by a multitude of physical, chemical, and biological factors. This session will describe current advances in the understanding of pathogen fate and transport in water and soil over spatial and temporal scales while attempting to mitigate the risk of waterborne disease transmission.