WESTalks: Global Perspectives on the Future of Water

WESTalks was founded on the vision that finding solutions for our future water challenges necessitates interdisciplinary collaborations. Our current and future water challenges bridge climate science, governmental boundaries, cultural and scientific values, economics and more. Accordingly, our future water leaders must adopt holistic approaches to devising equitable water solutions. WESTalks aims to unite water researchers across disciplines, cultures and geographies to learn the valuable contributions we each must make and how we must collaborate to address our future water challenges.

Diversity of academic and cultural experiences is the strength of WESTalks and we are very excited to welcome you to this venue and to learn from water experts from across disciplines and across the globe.

The WESTalks: Global Perspectives on the Future of Water forum aim

s to introduce participants to the challenges, approaches and leading solutions in water domains that are much different from their own.

The WESTalks water seminars were hosted virtually each Thursday from July 2020 to June 2022 by UBC Future Waters and IC-IMPACTS. The organizing committee consisted of graduate students: Karl Zimmermann, Fuhar Dixit, Leili Abkar, Abhishek Dhutta, Jaskaran Dhiman and Kelsey Shaw.

Notes on the organization of this WESTalks course:

  • All WESTalks videos are hosted on the IC-IMPACTS YouTube page and linked below.
  • If you watch even just one lecture, please check into our Global Map of WESTalks participants (see below)!
  • Each module of the WESTalks course offers an overview of a different domain of the Water field. Each module and lecture can stand on its own and there is no necessary order.
  • Some presentations serve as an introduction to a topic, while other WESTalks dive deeper into a timely area of research.
  • You can CTRL+F search the webpage for a water topic of interest.
  • Water leaders were invited to give a ~35 minutes presentation on their topic of interest and where they thought the field was going in the next decade. There was then 20 min of discussion, which was not recorded (you had to be there!).

Learning goals- the WESTalks: Global Perspectives on the Future of Water course aims to…

  • Introduce learners to water topics and stories that they would not normally get exposed to.
  • Offer an introductory-level understanding of a broad range of water topics.
  • Offer an introduction to water practitioners’ diverse approaches to frame and address water challenges.


Fun facts about WESTalks:

64 WESTalks speakers came from 49 organizations and ten countries.

  • WEST” means “Water and Environment Student Talks”, although often mistaken for referring to the“Pacific Northwest”, the geographic region where is located the Univ. of British Columbia in western Canada.
  • 64 talks from WESTalks Scholars from 10 countries and 49 organizations.
  • Over 700 registered participants, checking in from 35 countries.
  • The WEST Water Conference takes place in June each year. The 2021 and 2022 WEST Conferences united 400 water researchers from 25 countries for a free, open-invite, student-run three-day conference about everything water.

Over 700 WESTalks participants joined from 35 countries (map from June 2022).

WESTalks Global Map of participants:

If you learned something interesting from the WESTalks, please check into our global WESTalks map by clicking on the red ‘plus’ sign on bottom-right and typing in your city or university name:

Made with Padlet



Any questions about WESTalks can be directed to Karl Zimmermann at info@west-conference.ubc.ca.


WESTalks Modules included on this page:

  • 0: WESTalks: Future Water Big Visions
  • 1: Water and the Environment
  • 2: Urban Water/ Water Reuse/ Resource Recovery
  • 3: Principles of Water Treatment
  • 4: Water and Society
  • 5: Sustainable Development (WASH): Low tech for big solutions
  • 6: The Biology of Water
  • 7: Emerging Contaminants


Module 0. WESTalks: Future Water Big Visions

All of the WESTalks speakers shared an introduction to their water research and big ideas. The first module of the WESTalks course shares visions are achieving a resilient, equitable and sustainable water future, by globally-renowned water leaders.

The Next Way of Solving the World’s Water Problems

Dr. David Sedlak

Univ. of California Berkeley

June 09, 2021 (*Keynote at 2021 WEST Conference)

Water use; water, society and technology; Digital water; Desalination brine management; Non-grid water supply; Future of Water

  • The need for a ‘soft path’ to water solutions: water efficiencies at the individual person level;
  • Societal tensions with water;
  • Digital water: weather forecasting and water management;
  • Desalination: brine management;
  • Non-grid water systems;
  • Responsive water treatment with electro-chemistry
  • The Great Deceleration: getting by with less.


Sustainability transitions in the urban water sector: The promise of modular technologies from socio-technical perspective.

  • How we transition to a more sustainable future: How to analyze socio-technical transitions?;
  • Socio-technical transitions in urban water (recycling showers, waterless washing machines, dry toilets, etc.);
  • Optimal decentralization in the greenfield (what is the ‘optimized’ ratio of centralized vs. decentralized water connections);
  • Sunk costs and the economies of learning;
  • Should we prepare for a transition?

Dr. Bernard Truffer

EAWAG, Utrecht Univ.

September 24, 2020

centralized vs. decentralized water systems; sustainability transitions;


Twenty Years of GRACE Observations of Changing Freshwater Availability and Challenges for Sustainability

Dr. Jay Famiglietti

Univ. of Saskatchewan

June 10, 2022

*Keynote at 2022 WEST Conference


Groundwater; Remote Sensing; Sealevel; Water availability;

  • Grace Missions- A scale in the sky;
  • Global water storage: atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets, land;
  • Land-water loss contributes more sea level rise than Greenland and Antarctica; Groundwater depletions;
  • Wet areas get wetter and dry areas get drier;
  • Freshwater availability
  • Water action and what you can do


COVIDPoops19 and Beyond: Origin, Evolution, and Equity

  • Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE);
  • COVID-19 wastewater monitoring;
  • COVIDPoops19 dashboard;
  • Collaborations across water and health networks;
  • Data access in LMIC;
  • Equity in WBE monitoring;
  • Model viruses in wastewater to normalize data;

Dr. Colleen Naughton

Univ. of California Merced

May 26, 2022

Wastewater Based Epidemiology; Big Data in water; Coordination amongst water sector


Which disinfection by-products matter during potable reuse?

Dr. William Mitch

Stanford Univ.

October 29, 2020

water reuse; emerging contaminants

  • Multiple Barrier approach,
  • Contaminants of concern during reuse;
  • NDMA formation and prevention;
  • New framework for toxicity calculation: [toxicity]= [conc] x [toxic potential]


Module 1. Water and the Environment

Water comes from the environment, flows through the environment and ultimately is returned to the environment. This module discusses environmental water availability and quality, the sustainable use of water and how water and other environmental resources are intrinsically connected, especially including advances in resource recovery.


Twenty Years of GRACE Observations of Changing Freshwater Availability and Challenges for Sustainability

Dr. Jay Famiglietti

Univ. of Saskatchewan

June 10, 2022

*Keynote at 2022 WEST Conference

Groundwater; Remote Sensing; Sealevel; Water availability;

  • Grace Missions- A scale in the sky;
  • Global water storage: atmosphere, ocean, ice sheets, land;
  • Land-water loss contributes more sea level rise than Greenland and Antarctica; Groundwater depletions;
  • Wet areas get wetter and dry areas get drier;
  • Freshwater availability
  • Water action and what you can do;


Human Imprints on (Trace) Metal Cycling in the Great Lakes

  • Contaminant loading in the Great Lakes;
  • Dynamic modelling of hydraulic and contaminant loading;
  • Different metals loading in each Lake over time;
  • Metals loading in wastewater treatment processes.

Dr. Bas Vriens

Queens Univ.

May 20, 2021

Metals in aquatic environment;
contaminant loading; metals in wastewater


Regime shifts in aquatic ecosystems: theory and experimental tests at ecosystem scale

Dr. Leland Jackson

Univ. of Calgary

May 27, 2021

Ecosystem Stability; lake turbidity; macrophytes

  • Ecosystem stability- Water greenness;
  • Bimodal turbidity models for Shallow lakes;
  • Role of macrophytes: supporting zooplankton and prevent particle resuspension;
  • Experimental WWTP at Univ. of Calgary;
  • Lee’s List of Environmental Water Challenges;
  • Village Brewing: with recycled wastewater;


Urine: The liquid gold of wastewater

  • Resource recovery from wastewater
  • Chemistry of recovery from urine: increasing pH of solution allows to precipitate phosphate from urine
  • Producing of Bio-Bricks using bacteria and urine, improving the Bio-Brick structure

Dr. Dyllon Randall

Univ. of Cape Town

February 25, 2021

Sanitation; Resource recovery; waste valorization


Designing Distributed Nitrogen Recovery from Wastewater

Dr. William Tarpeh

Stanford Univ.

April 08, 2021

Resource Recovery; Nitrogen recovery; Ammonium; Wastewater

  • Nitrogen in the environment and in wastewater;
  • Why is Sanitation progress so slow (SDG 6.2);
  • Ammonia recovery from wastewater to use as fertilizer (skipping the denitrification and Haber-Bosch processes);
  • Selective nitrogen adsorption on metal ligands;
  • Adsorbent regeneration- reducing acid regenerants


Module 2. Urban water, water reuse and resource recovery

As population size and growing urban centres put pressure on our water resources, this WESTalks module shares leading ideas on water-sustainable cities, including advances in potable reuse and recovering resources from ‘waste’water.


De Facto Reuse: Are we drinking treated wastewater?

Dr. Paul Westerhoff

Arizona State Univ.

August 07, 2020

water reuse; emerging contaminants

  • How much treated wastewater is in our rivers?;
  • Social acceptance of reuse;
  • Emerging contaminants in reuse water


Treatment technologies and monitoring strategies for contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) in potable water reuse.

  • Intro to potable reuse (direct and indirect);
  • Water quality monitoring tools and strategies;
  • Advanced treatment methods for potable reuse treatment

Dr. Minkyu Park

Univ. of Arizona

January 21, 2021

potable reuse


Cost-Effective, Engineered and Sustainably-Produce Media for Stormwater Runoff Treatment

Dr. Jessica Ray

Univ. of Washington

March 04, 2021

Urban stormwater management; Stormwater contaminants; Iron-mediated oxidation; Biochar; PFAS adsorption

  • Urban landscapes pollute stormwater;
  • Green infrastructure: rain gardens, permeable pavement, retention ponds;
  • Using iron (VI) to oxidize organics contaminants;
  • Coffee grounds biochar as adsorptive material alternative to activated carbon;


Water sector electrification: System-level benefits and process-level challenges

  • Transmission, Treatment and Distribution energy in Urban water systems,
  • 5D Water Grids: Diversification, Decentralization, Decarbonization, Decoupling, Demand Softening; Decarbonization the Water Sector;
  • Electrified water treatment as alternative to conventional (i.e., electro-coagulation);
  • Demand-response paradigm and implications for water utilities;

Dr. Meagan Mauter

Stanford Univ.

March 04, 2021

Energy use in water treatment; Decentralization; Decarbonization; Electro-coagulation; Demand-response


Transitioning to Blue Green Cities: Harmonising nature-based approaches with smart urban water management and multi-functional planning

Dr. Peter Bach


March 11, 2021

Blue Green Cities; Urban planning; Sustainable Infrastructure

  • “Garden City Movement” linking city and countryside environments;
  • Blue-Green City: urban water management with energy, biodiversity for sustainable and adaptable cities;
  • Creating a Blue Green City- case study on Zurich;
  • Blue Green technology options;
  • Designing blue green cities with UrbanBEATS


COVIDPoops19 and Beyond: Origin, Evolution, and Equity

  • Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE);
  • COVID-19 wastewater monitoring;
  • COVIDPoops19 dashboard;
  • Collaborations across water and health networks;
  • Data access in LMIC;
  • Equity in WBE monitoring;
  • Model viruses in wastewater to normalize data;

Dr. Colleen Naughton

Univ. of California Merced

May 26, 2022

Wastewater Based Epidemiology; Big Data in water;


Extracellular Polymeric Substances

Dr. Mark Van Loosdrecht

Delft Univ. of Technology

February 11, 2021

EPS; Biofilm composition; resource recovery- EPS; biopolymers

  • Understanding extracellular polymeric substances;
  • Analyzing biofilms: glucose method and Bradford (protein) methods,
  • Nereda wastewater treatment process;
  • Resource recovery: harvesting EPS from Kemera WWTP for plastic production,
  • Applications of EPS/ biopolymers from WWTP resource recovery,
  • Characterization of biofilms


Elucidating and engineering microbiomes to valorize exopolymers from wastewater

  • Resource recovery from wastewater;
  • Microbiome for resource recovery;
  • Understanding microbiomes;
  • Harvesting exopolymers from wastewater;

Dr. David Weissbrodt

Technical Univ. of Delft

June 02, 2022

Resource recovery; microbiomes;


Moving Beyond Resilience by Considering Antifragility in Potable Water Systems

Dr. Joe Goodwill

Univ. of Rhode Island

March 10, 2022

[no video available]


Deciphering Waste: the Management and Informative Power of Microbial and Chemical Wastewater Constituents

[no video available]

Dr. Cresten Mansfeld

Univ. Colorado Boulder

January 13, 2022


Module 3. Principles of Water Treatment

Today, there exists a plethora of innovative water treatment technologies, from sand filters developed by the Romans to bio-treatment process we are only now starting to understand. This WESTalks module offers an introduction to many long-trusted technologies and novel treatment strategies.


Biofiltration: Where we’ve been, where we are and where we are going?

Dr. Mike McKie

Univ. of Toronto

July 30, 2020

biofiltration; drinking water; wastewater;

  • Overview of biological treatment: fixed vs. suspended, nutrients;
  • History of bio-treatment;
  • Acclimation periods;
  • Chlorinated backwash impact; DBP formation;
  • GAC better than anthracite filters;
  • Metagenomics reveals some info, but not fully understood;
  • Enzyme activity to predict filter performance;
  • Finding enzymes for specific contaminant degradation


Drinking water biofilters: A source of clean water and novel microbial physiologies

  • Overview of biofiltration;
  • Sand filters: filtration, sorption and biodegradation;
  • Case studies on biofiltration: Vancouver, Zurich and Denmark;
  • Identifying microbial communities in groundwater biofilters;
  • Nitrification: ammonia oxidizing bacteria and Nitrite oxidizing bacteria;
  • Comammox Nitrospira is a new bacteria to nitrify ammonia directly to nitrate;
  • Methane, sulfide, manganese and organics bio-oxidation

Dr. Jane Fowler

Simon Fraser Univ.

April 01, 2021

biofiltration; drinking water; microbial community diversity;


How I learned to stop worrying and love the biofilm

Dr. Jeseth Delgado Vela

Howard Univ.

Feb 24, 2022

Wastewater; Biological nitrogen removal;

  • Evolving purpose of wastewater treatment and moving towards nutrient recovery;
  • sulphur and nitrogen in wastewater;
  • Nitrite- and Ammonia- Oxidizing Bacteria; membrane aerated bioreactors;
  • Sulfide helps to shortcut nitrogen removal via NOB;
  • Resiliency to system disturbances for biological treatment processes;
  • Biofilm geometry and diffusion


Next Generation Desalination Membranes: Where are we Now?

  • Intro to membrane treatment: desalination and wastewater treatment;
  • Design of novel membrane structures;
  • Water Permeability;
  • Water-salt selectivity;
  • Ion-ion selectivity

Dr. Menachem Elimelech

Yale Univ.

August 13, 2020

membranes; perm-selectivity trade-off; reverse osmosis; thin film composite membranes


Membranes Under Pressure: Membranes in Drinking Water Treatment

Dr. Emile Cornelissen

KWR Water Institute, Ghent Univ.

August 27, 2020

Membrane desalination; fouling; RO pre-treatment; perm-selectivity

  • Challenges of membrane desalination;
  • Membrane fouling;
  • Concentrate disposal;
  • Energy consumption;
  • Removal of small organic compounds;
  • Limited credited log removal;
  • Pre-treatment to avoid fouling


Putting bubbles to work: Emerging applications of hydrophobic membranes in water treatment and power generation

  • Thin-film composite RO membranes and challenges;
  • Intro to vapour-gap membranes;
  • Optimizing vapour-gap membranes in osmotic systems;
  • Temperature- and Concentration- polarization;
  • Demonstration of vapour-gap reverse osmosis;

Dr. Anthony Straub

Univ. Colorado Boulder

February 18, 2021

membrane treatment; vapour gap membranes; membrane polarization; reverse osmosis


Ion Exchange Applications for Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment

Dr. Treavor Boyer

Arizona State Univ.

November 05, 2020

Ion Exchange; NOM; PFAS; Multiple species removal;

  • IEX removal mechanisms: natural organic matter and PFAS;
  • IEX resins: sulphate vs. bicarbonate form;
  • Environmental impacts of IEX;
  • Pharmaceutical removal for wastewater reuse


Sustainable Materials for Advanced WateR Treatment (SMART) in the 2020s

  • Nanomaterials in water treatment: carbonaceous, organic, metallic;
  • Graphene as a support for carbon-metal hybrids;
  • Iron-Carbon nanotube (Fe-CNT) for chromium removal;
  • PFAS: adsorption and advanced oxidation processes on nanomaterials (rGO-nZVI);
  • Nanomaterial toxicity;

Dr. Nirupam Aich

Univ. of Buffalo

January 27, 2022

Nanomaterials; PFAS Adsorption; PFAS Degradation; rGO-NZVI


Peptide-enabled filtration for waterborne pathogen control

Dr. Boya Xiong

Massachusetts Inst. of Tech., Univ. of Minnesota

September 17, 2020

Disinfection; sand filtration; f-sand filters; moringa seed filter

  • Antimicrobial sand filters with enhanced surface adsorption;
  • Killing pathogens during filtration (i.e., disinfection during filtration);
  • Moringa seeds contain antimicrobial peptide;
  • Moringa chitin binding protein can bind to MS2 (bacteriophage).


New insights into the effects of micron-scale microplastics on membrane-based treatment processes

[no video available]

Dr. David Latulippe

McMaster Univ.

April 29, 2021


Heterogeneous Diffusion of Nanoparticles in Biofilms

Dr. Caitlyn Butler

Univ. Massachusetts Amherst

Mar 24, 2022

[no video available]


Module 4. Water and Society 

It is people who thrive from the happiness and health of enjoying safe water. Water is intrinsically connected to society and we need to remember that there is always a human impact of water decisions. This module shares the stories, challenges and peoples’ experiences with water.


The Human Right to a Healthy Environment and the Global Water Crisis

Dr. David Boyd

Univ. of British Columbia, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment

June 10, 2021
*Keynote from 2021 WEST Conference

Water stress; Climate Change; Rights-based approach; United Nations;

  • Global water challenges;
  • Water Stress case study: the Fijian city that moved;
  • Rights-based approach to managing water;
  • Strategies to managing safe, sufficient and healthy water;
  • The Right to a Healthy Environment;
  • Accountability through Human Rights;
  • Q&A with Dr. David Boyd


Techno-Ecological Approaches for Treatment Resilience and Drinking Water Security in a Changing Climate

  • Green Technologies in the Water Sector;
  • Planning resiliency in water systems;
  • Understanding drinking water security;
  • Wildfires affecting source water quality;
  • Supply diversification and conservation;
  • Source water protection

Dr. Monica Emelko

Univ. of Waterloo

December 02, 2021

Nature-based solutions; socio-technical; climate resiliency; Wildfires; Source water protection


Tip of the Iceberg – Water, Health, and the Growing Divide in Canadian Indigenous Communities

Dr. Kerry Black

Univ. of Calgary

06 May, 2021

Clean drinking water supply; Drinking water advisories; First Nations Water Crisis

  • Environmental Performance Index: access to clean water in Canada;
  • Adequate drinking water: affordable, accessible, acceptable, safe, sufficient;
  • Indigenous Communities in Canada and drinking water access;
  • Drinking Water Advisories: BWA, DNC, DNU;
  • Case Studies: BWAs in Indigenous Canadian communities;
  • Causes of DWA’s;
  • Design for local contexts;


Towards Watershed Security: Fresh Thinking about Governance, Water Law, and the Future

  • Water stress in British Columbia;
  • Water Law: BC’s Water Act and FITFIR;
  • Who decides the right to water?;
  • Watershed security mandates: Reconciliation, Economic Recovery, Stewardship and Climate Change;
  • Big idea: A Provincial Water Security Officer;
  • The Future: Water, Land and Climate Resiliency

Dr. Oliver Brandes and Rosie Simms

POLIS Water Sustainability Project, Univ. of Victoria
*Keynote from 2021 WEST Conference

June 11, 2021

Water Stress; Water Governance; Water law; Rights-based approach; UNDRIP


Water Equity and Compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act

Dr. Maura Allaire

Univ. of California Irvine

November 04, 2021

Drinking water service disparities; Water justice;

  • Who is affected by drinking water quality violations: rural and low-income;
  • Factors affecting water system compliance: income, race & ethnicity;


Disaster Challenges and Opportunities: Safely and Rapidly Recovering Drinking Water Systems

  • Water supply during natural disasters (fires, chemical spills, etc.),
  • Volatile Organic Compounds in drinking water after a wildfire,
  • Policy Choices for safe water (water advisories), water infrastructure after a wildfire

Dr. Andrew Whelton

Purdue Univ.

June 11, 2021

Drinking water supply in natural disaster response; Policy response;


Drinking Water Supply Challenges in Remote Arctic Communities

Dr. Alexandra Cassivi

Univ. of Laval

December 16, 2021

Case study: Water access in a trucked water supply community in Nunavik, (Canada)

  • Drinking water supply in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik: a truck-to-cistern system case study;
  • Water treatment;
  • Water distribution by truck;
  • Storage tanks;
  • Practice and preferences of water users;


Module 5. Sustainable Development (WASH): Low tech for big solutions

At the current rates of progress, 1.6 billion people will lack safely managed drinking water, 2.8 billion people will lack safely managed sanitation, and 1.9 billion people will lack basic hand hygiene facilities in 2030” (United Nations, Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all). The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal SDG6 seeks to provide safe water and sanitation for all by 2030. This requires innovative technologies, combined with an understanding of the social, economic, cultural, historical and the many dimensions which are unique to each community. This WESTalks module shares stories, challenges, local solutions, and ideas on sustainable water development.


Using Feedback to Improve Accountability in Global Environmental Health and Engineering.

Dr. Evan Thomas

Univ. of Colorado Boulder

February 04, 2021

Global health; behaviour change; water use trends; remote monitoring;

  • Affluence and burden of disease;
  • Sustainable Development and service delivery models;
  • DelAgua cookstove to improve air quality; Lifestraw family water filters;
  • RCT;
  • Carbon financing;
  • Behaviour Change;
  • Monitoring handpump functionality;
  • Water service models;
  • Water pump use decreases after rainfall;
  • Global Engineering at the Mortenson Centre at UC Boulder


Why Shit Matters, TEDx

*Original WESTalks title: Emerging Solutions to Urban Sanitation in the Global South

  • Rethinking Urban Sanitation;
  • Shit Flow Diagram;
  • Resource recovery from wastewater;
  • Biogas: methane for cooking;
  • Poo Pellets: pelletized faecal sludge as industrial fuel;
  • Urine fertilizer: stabilize, polish and distill to make plant fertilizer;
  • Animal feed: black soldier fly larvae turn sludge and organic waste into protein and fat for animal feed;

Dr. Christoph Lüthi

EAWAG, Sandec department

July 09, 2020

Sanitation; non-sewered sanitation; Resource Recovery; shit flow diagram


Innovations in Faecal Sludge Management

Dr. Linda Strande

EAWAG, Sandec department

March 25, 2021

Faecal sludge management; FSM; Sanitation; CWIS; sustainable sanitation

  • What is faecal sludge?;
  • Non-sewered (onsite) sanitation;
  • Faecal sludge vs. wastewater;
  • Predicting faecal sludge quality and quantity with demographic, environmental and technical data;
  • Analyzing sludge composition;
  • Faecal sludge management opportunities.


Trash: It’s role in sanitation and resource recovery

    • Faecal sludge management;
    • Removing trash from pit latrines;
  • Recovering struvite from urine;
  • Sanitation in developing communities (dry sanitation)

Dr. Elizabeth Tilley

ETH Zurich, EAWAG, Univ. of Malawi

September 12, 2020

sanitation; faecal sludge management; Resource recovery from urine


Pitfalls and Progress: Research to Move Towards Safe and Sustainable Sanitation for All

Dr. Mike Templeton

Imperial College London

July 16, 2020

sanitation; vermicomposting;  sustainable sanitation model;  monitoring pit latrines; biogas


  • SDGs and MDGs;
  • Sustainable sanitation models;
  • Tigerworm toilets for managing faecal sludge and solid waste;
  • Vermicompost as a resource;
  • Modelling sustainability of sanitation services;
  • Monitoring contamination from pit latrines;
  • Biogas production;
  • Sanitation and schistosomiasis


Rainwater Harvesting in Practice

  • Water in Mexico City: floods and droughts;
  • Rainwater harvesting is an ancient practice;
  • RWH as a high-quality water source, combined with simple treatment techniques;
  • Water storage;
  • Rainwater system designs: gutters, first flush, cisterns, Purification;
  • Silver ionization;
  • Case studies: large and small scale;

Dr. Ilan Adler

Univ. College London

November 18, 2021

Rainwater harvesting; water storage; silver ionization disinfection;


Point of Use: A case study in Longido, Tanzania

Dr. Onita Basu

Carleton Univ.

October 01, 2020

community engagement; point of use; pilot testing; Ceramic filters; socio-technical considerations

  • Point of Use filters in Longido, Tanzania: a case study;
  • Project lifecycle: relationship building, solution ideation, site visits, understanding community’s current water situation;
  • Point of Use ceramic filters;
  • Academic Poetry: Slow Down by Robbie Venis


From Plumbing Poverty to Plumbing Violence: Water Security and Gender-Based Violence in the Global South

  • Environment, built environment and health;
  • Water access;
  • WASH disease classifications: water-borne, water-wash, water-based and water-related;
  • Water and Gender;
  • Burden of Illness and DALYs;
  • Plumbing poverty: unequal access: Plumbing violence: physical, sexual, psychosocial and structural;

Dr. Susan Elliot

Univ. of Waterloo

June 08, 2022
*Keynote from 2022 WEST Conference

Water Access; Gender; Violence; WASH disease classification;


Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Engineering in Outbreaks

Dr. Daniele Lantagne

Tufts Univ.

November 12, 2020

Humanitarian; WASH; Infectious disease; Ebola; handwashing

  • Humanitarian response;
  • Categories of emergencies;
  • Case Study: Ebola;
  • Efficacy of chlorine for infectious disease control, surface cleaning, and handwashing


Building Human Capacity

  • Introduction to CAWST;
  • Gladys and her family’s water;
  • The challenges of Sustainable Development and SDG6 around the world;
  • Water stakeholders;
  • Digital connections for knowledge sharing;

Shauna Curry

Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies, CAWST

June 09, 2022

*Keynote from 2022 WEST Conference


Challenges to reducing waterborne diseases in developing communities in the coming decade: the case of DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Dr. Patrick Mirindi

World Health Organization

July 23, 2020

Public Health; Waterborne disease; Cholera

  • Global access to water, sanitation and hygiene;
  • Introduction to waterborne disease;
  • Cholera in DRC; Migration and cholera;
  • Challenges for addressing sanitation in poor countries;
  • Temporary solutions can become long-term approaches


Role of infrastructure including sanitation for human well-being and links with SDGs

  • Challenges for sustainable development;
  • Infrastructure opportunities for sustainable development;
  • Housing investment;
  • Sustainability in the SDGs

Dr. Priti Parikh

Univ. College London

April 22, 2021

Sustainability; infrastructure


Reimagining Engineering in Service to Populations Vulnerable to WASH, Climate Change and Planetary Health Impacts

Susan Murcott

MIT, D-Lab

October 22, 2022

WASH; Planetary Health; Planetary Boundaries; SDG; MDG

  • What is WASH and SDG6;
  • Climate Change and Planetary Boundaries,
  • Susan’s career in WASH,
  • Susan’s students’ journeys in WASH


Rapid growth and low tax base? Why “engineering” is only part of the solution to urban WASH in the global south

[no video available]

Dr. Barbara Evans

Univ. of Leeds

October 15, 2020


Applying the Systems Lens to Rural Water Service Delivery

Dr. Pranav Chintalapati

Univ. Colorado Boulder

May 19, 2022

[no video available]


Module 6. The Biology of Water

If the first thousand years of water treatment focused on physical treatment (i.e., sand filters) and the most recent century developed chemical treatments (chlorine disinfection, membranes, etc.), then the next century will be the century that we master biological water treatment. Presently, we are understanding the biology of water and beginning to learn how to engineer it to fit our safe water and sanitation needs.


Managing unwanted microbial growth in building plumbing systems

Dr. Fredrick Hammes


May 13, 2021

biofilms; water distribution system; microbial water quality; premise plumbing

  • What is in a biofilm (in a rubber duck!);
  • Bacteria in drinking water distribution;
  • Building plumbing affects water quality;
  • Pipe material and stagnation time affects water microbial community;
  • Diversity decreases in biofilms;


The metabolic landscape of the drinking water microbiome

  • The microbial ecosystem in drinking water;
  • Engineering the water microbiome;
  • Disinfection shapes the microbial community structure;
  • Disinfection selects for a similar set of expanded metabolic capacities;
  • Antimicrobial resistance in water microbiome;

Dr. Ameet Pinto

Northeastern Univ.

June 03, 2021

Drinking water microbiome; disinfection; antimicrobial resistance; metabolic capacity


Bacteria Transport: Biofilm structure and Metabolic Response to Stress

Dr. Andrew Jones III

Duke Univ.

Sept 23, 2021

Biofilms; Microbial Fuel Cell;
Wastewater resource recovery;
Shear stress;

  • Biofilm microstructures;
  • Microbial Fuel Cell: energy from wastewater;
  • Biofilm community dynamics and shear stress;


Researcher-Utility Partnerships for Advancing Microbial Drinking Water Quality

  • Microbiological composition changes throughout treatment process;
  • Ozone contact treatment;
  • Collaborating with utilities for applied research;
  • Pipe flushing during building shutdowns

Dr. Lutgarde Raskin

Univ. of Michigan Ann Arbour

January 14, 2021

Water microbiology; ozone disinfection; gene expression


Module 7. Emerging Contaminants

With advances in contaminant detection and toxicity, we are learning about a need to treat for new, or emerging, contaminants. This WESTalks module introduces what we know so far, current regulations (*which are evolving each year), and advances in treatment options.


Which disinfection by-products matter during potable reuse?

Dr. William Mitch

Stanford Univ.

October 29, 2020

water reuse; emerging contaminants

  • Multiple Barrier approach,
  • Contaminants of concern during reuse;
  • NDMA formation and prevention;
  • New framework for toxicity calculation: [toxicity]= [conc] x [toxic potential]


Disinfection By-product Formation in Drinking Water and Recycled Wastewater

  • Disinfection by-products:
  • why they’re bad,
  • where they come from,
  • regulations from around the World,
  • toxicity

Dr. Daniel McCurry

Univ. of Southern California

October 08, 2020

Disinfection by-products; THM; HAA; NDMA


Controlling Trihalomethane Formation in Drinking Water Supple – A Case Study of India

Dr. Sunil Gupta

Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad

November 19, 2020

DBP; trihalomethanes;

  • What are THMs,
  • THM formation,
  • Health Impacts,
  • Standards,
  • Coagulation pre-treatment to avoid THM formation


Chemical destruction of aqueous per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): Are PFAS truly “forever chemicals”?

  • Intro to PFAS: structure, hazards and treatment approaches;
  • Treatment: Degradation and Defluorination strategies;
  • UV-Sulfite systems can effectively defluorinate PFAS;
  • Optimizing pH for defluorination in UV-sulfite systems;
  • Redox treatment of PFAS;
  • Hydroxyl radication oxidation mechanism: alternating oxidation/ reduction for complete defluorination;

Dr. Michael Bentel

Clemson Univ.

October 07, 2021

PFAS; PFAS destruction; UV-Sulfite defluorination


Efficient PFAS Removal by Amine- functionalized Sorbents: Promises & Challenges

Dr. Mohamed Ateia

Northwestern Univ.

January 28, 2021

PFAS; hydrophobic interactions; electrostatic interactions; MOF;

  • Introduction to PFAS removal,
  • Hydrophobic and electrostatic interactions affecting PFAS removal,
  • Conventional PFAS sorbents (DEXSORB was best),
  • PFAS removal by aminated sorbents


PFAS treatment strategies

  • PFAS Background;
  • Treatment approaches and oxidation;
  • Reductive treatment of PFAS;
  • Zero-valent iron and Nickle for defluorination;
  • Optimizing defluorination temp to 50 deg;
  • Fluoride and sulfite are degradation products

Dr. Jenny Zenobio

Univ. of California Irvine

April 21, 2022

PFAS; Zero Valent Iron; PFAS mineralization;


PFAS: the Forever One Water Chemical

Dr. Samantha Black

HDR Inc.)

April 15, 2021

PFAS; industrial case study

  • Intro to PFAS;
  • PFAS in drinking water;
  • Regulatory Status;
  • Treatment Options: powdered AC, Ion Exchange, Granular AC, Reverse Osmosis;
  • Case Study: Greensboro, NC


Trace Contaminants in Potable Reuse: An RO Concentrate Treatment Perspective

[no video available]

Dr. Rachel Scholes

Univ. of California Berkeley, Univ. of British Columbia

August 20, 2020



Recommended citation:

For content from each presentation, you may cite each WESTalks presenter name, their presentation title, and presentation date.

For referencing to the WESTalks Global Water Seminars, you may use:

K. Zimmermann, F. Dixit, L. Abkar, A. Dhutta, J. Dhiman and K. Shaw. WESTalk Water Course: WESTalk: Global Perspectives on the Future of Water, University of British Columbia, July 2023.