Thematic Tracks

Addressing global water challenge for a water wise world demands imaginative approaches and the adoption of new paradigms and technologies. The IWA World Water Congress brings together top water professionals from around the world to challenge the status quo.






Cities, Utilities and Industries Leading Change

Water centered Cities of the Future

Resilience and sustainability are central to the water sensitive urban infrastructure of the future. Case studies and discussions highlight the pros and cons of both centralised and decentralised urban water systems. Critical views are presented on the effectiveness of adapting to climate change and creating urban water resilience through urban storage and drainage, storm water management and rainwater harvesting.
Workshops and technical sessions provide great opportunities to network with specialists focused on the transition of urban systems. The latest modelling and case studies on moving towards sustainability provide the basis for reflecting on how urban water systems can meet new imperatives through to 2050. Can integration of the design of water systems with the long-term planning and development of urban areas be achieved?

Leading Utilities

New management models for utilities, new approaches to asset management and innovative contracting practices are transforming water service delivery. They form a basis for more effective, efficient and sustainable services. Workshops and technical sessions focus on the latest advances in utility performance assessment and benchmarking based on learning from best practices.

Outcomes from new assessments of the capacity gap in
the water sector of emerging economies are presented. These facilitate the strategic planning of training and professional learning. At the utility level this translates into better workforce planning and improving the quality of skilled staff. Utility managers from around the world will exchange ideas and share experiences to improve utility management in practice.

Industries in Transition

Industries from all sectors now see eco-efficiency, water and materials recycling as essential to their success. Leading industrial water management practices are minimising environmental impacts by achieving zero waste discharge. Workshops and technical sessions provide examples from agriculture, refineries, automotive manufacturing, mining, food and beverages, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Re-Charting the Course of Water

Resource resilience

Building resilience into resource management strategies
requires institutional and technological development. New strategic frameworks are being introduced, enabling successful management of resources across political boundaries: connecting watersheds and urban centers. These new approaches focus on managing the current state of the resource base, but also support the restoration of damaged or over-exploited ecosystems.

A number of resource management technologies are under development. Latest research findings of the underlying physical, chemical and ecological processes are presented. These findings have the potential to substantiate new risk-based assessment approaches for sustainable resource management. A variety of new methods, applied to different ecosystems from coastal zones, wetlands and groundwater, to lakes and reservoirs, are presented.

Alternative Resources

Competing water demands and water scarcity are driving the development of alternative water resources, such as water efficiency gains through reducing leakage or re-using water for potable and non-potable use. A series of workshops highlight where and how new technologies are shaping the future of alternative water resource development. Special attention is given to how the interactions between regulation and stakeholders significantly impacts on the development of these resources.

Technical presentations, that underpin the development
of alternative water resources, highlight the latest findings of advanced membrane technologies including ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis.

Resource and Energy Recovery

Water and wastewater are valuable sources of nutrients, materials and energy. The latest developments in capturing nitrogen and phosphorus are featured in technical presentations and a series of posters. These focus on solutions in both the municipal and industrial sectors. Full-scale programmes that meet environmental discharge standards and recover nutrients effectively are highlighted.

Technologies are now being developed that enable energy to be captured from wastewater. Biogas production through co-digestion and co-generation schemes, microbial electrolysis, fuel cells and pressure-retarded osmosis are amongst the technologies that could dramatically change the energy
profile of our industry. A number of technical sessions and workshops highlight how the focus on energy is combined with real progress in understanding and tackling the production of greenhouse gases in the water cycle. This is making a significant contribution to the mitigation of climate change.

Enabling Progress with Good Governance, Sustainable Finance and ICT

Good Governance

Effective institutions and regulation are essential to enable
the reliable and sustainable management of water services
and water resources. Through technical presentations and discussions we examine how regulation is impacting water and wastewater services and water reuse. Other sessions analyse the effectiveness of different national and transboundary water- sharing governance arrangements. You can examine stakeholder engagement, customer relations and whether the water sector can learn from other sectors.

Sustainable Finance

Sound finances are critical for the water sector. Taxes, tariffs
and transfers together form the basic ingredients for sustainable financing. In reality, utility managers, regulators and other practitioners must address a number of (competing) objectives when establishing tariff structures and pricing levels. What tariffs are most appropriate in terms of sustainability, affordability and equitability? A range of speakers and panelists review the use of different sources of finance to cover capital and operational costs in different settings.

Smart Water

The continuing rapid development of Smart Water is driving radical change in the water sector. The impacts of implementing new algorithms, monitoring technologies and decision support systems on service delivery and resource management effectiveness are examined. Finally, the potential of “big data” and analytics for transforming the water sector and overcoming critical challenges in water management are reviewed.

Water Quality, Safety and Human Health

Water Safety and Human Health

Safety is at the heart of water supply services. A number of sessions demonstrate that Water Safety Plans are increasingly widespread. More and more the conversation focuses on the assessment of effective implementation of these plans and on the development of Sanitation Safety Plans.

The safety of water supplies based on traditional disinfection has encountered several problems, such as disinfectant by- products. Bromates, chlorates and nitrosoamines are now being assessed far more accurately, with potential health impacts better understood and new techniques for their removal advanced.

Monitoring and Managing Water Quality

Developing an approach to establish ‘water cascades’ for different purposes is dependent on identifying the correct water quality for the specific water use. A series of sessions will explore differentiated standards for uses such as irrigation and cooling, which can be done with non-potable water. Technical sessions demonstrate that improved detection and better assessments can deliver a “fit for purpose” approach to water quality management.

Leading specialists elaborate on how new molecular- biological tools are expanding our knowledge about environmental conditions and tracing pollution sources, leading to improved resource management. Learn how powerful analytical techniques are enabling the detection of pharmaceuticals and priority pollutants throughout the water cycle, including in distribution systems.

Water and Wastewater Processes and Treatments

Wastewater and Bio-solids

Research and practice on the safe and sustainable management of wastewater and derived sludge (bio-solids) continues to develop. Technical sessions highlight latest findings in optimising wastewater treatment processes and the next generation of technologies. A special focus is given to Aerobic Granular Sludge, which has advanced rapidly and is set to become the new standard for aerobic treatment of industrial and municipal wastewater. One workshop will stimulate a closer cooperation of the leading practical and academic fields, and develop a collaborative research roadmap.

Nutrient Removal, Membranes and Desalination

The latest findings of nutrient removal in large-scale wastewater plants are presented. The effectiveness of a range of biological phosphorus and nutrient removal processes, including Anammox, are examined with experiences from both temperate and warm climates.

Membranes have transformed the water and wastewater sector in recent years. A series of technical sessions provide deeper insight into past and future membrane experiences, including membrane bioreactors. In addition, speakers elaborate on the future of desalination and the feasibility of biological desalination.

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