Last week I attended a course on Advanced Urban Wastewater Treatment in Malmö, Sweden. The lecturers came from the academia (Lund, Aalborg and Denmark Technical universities) as well as from the industry. This broad approach to wastewater treatment was also reflected in the topics, which covered both novel technologies as well as ideas on how current technologies can be optimized. Presentations on the removal of pharmaceuticals, advanced reject water treatment and tools for evaluation of WWTP* carbon footprint were mixed with those on how to improve sludge digestion or how the choice of carbon source influence denitrification.

The latest general assembly of the Marie Curie Alumni Association 2016 in Venice attracted more than two hundred participants from all over the world – an undoubtable win for the young organization. MCAA was created in 2013 to promote career opportunities and cooperation between the current and former members of the prestigious Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, a set of scholarships awarded by the European Union to prioritized research projects.

Past week I attended to a CIWEM Urban Drainage Group Training Day 2 - ‘Use of network models for real-time operation’. The truth is, Real Time Control (RTC) has been around for a while now, but it is taking some time for it to really kick in. Why is that?

European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) urges state members to review river basin management plans every 6 years. Hence, in the end of January, the Spanish ministry of Environment published the corresponding updated plan of the Ebro River for the period 2015-2021. However, this plan provoked plenty of controversy among stakeholders, especially, environmental organizations which seek to preserve the critical Ebro delta ecosystem, home for many protected birds and wildlife. The most important elements for the preservation of this natural park are water flow and sediments. However, dams built upriver have cut the sediment supply by 90%. Environmentalists claims that the plan allocates first water flow for irrigation and a nuclear power station, leaving the required environmental flow behind. As a consequence, massive protests against this document took place a couple of weeks ago in Amposta, a city next to the Ebro national park.

So you are a PhD student and have come to the point where you are asking yourself what you are doing with your life? Well, a PhD is supposed to be the highest academic grade awarded by universities, but what is it actually? The acronym PhD comes from the Latin-Greek philosophiae doctor which can be confusing for the contemporary non-Latin-nor-Greek speaker for whom the doctor is someone you see when you are sick and what does philosophy have to do with the wastewater treatment you are into anyways. Well, if you are familiar with Greek you might be able to figure out that philosophy actually means love of wisdom and originally this field of study incorporated natural as well as social sciences. Doctor has Latin roots and refers to a teacher or scholar.

I would like to start this post with a quote:" [...] Yet, when it comes to keeping entire societies healthy, global initiatives have to enter the picture, particularly management of clean water and pollution".

We live in the age of DNA therapy, microsurgery and 3D printers that build personalized prosthetic limbs. These technological advancements are of a great medicinal value for many, and show us how far our societies advanced since the first mud huts. Yet, when it comes to keeping entire societies healthy, global initiatives have to enter the picture, particularly management of clean water and pollution.

We choose (allegedly) our politicians, and then they tell us what needs to be done if we want to live happily. They make the rules of the game, and we choose to play. For them, it is all about money, and happiness is about consumption capacity. But is it money all there is? Well, nothing is for free, certainly. After stating what society needs, comes the question: who will pay for it?

It is Sunday 17th of January at 23.20 pm in Girona and my wife is once again packing. Tomorrow she will be flying back to Brussels where she lives and works.