Water pollution and quality


Water quality is a global issue and water resources is increasingly threatened as urban population grows, industrial and agricultural activities increase, and as climate change influences the global hydrological cycle. Water contamination decreases the value of natural ecosystems, which support biodiversity, human health and food production. To tackle this issue, fundamental solutions for pollution control and improved water quality should be based on prevention, treatment and ecosystems’ restoration.

Opportunities and challenges

The main challenges for the public and private sectors are to protect and improve the water quality of rivers, lakes, aquifers, coastal areas and drinking water.

Some of the key challenges in reducing water pollution reside in: understanding water quality changes, using effective technologies, building awareness through communication and education, and establishing legal, institutional and regulatory tools. Here are some of the R&D priorities by topics identified concerning water pollution & quality:

  1. Monitoring Water Quality: Development of low-cost, rapid and robust field sampling tools, development and implementation of new analytical and monitoring approaches for chemical of emerging concerns Water and ICT (related with water & ICT topic), monitoring of priority and emerging pollutants from anthropogenic activities (pathogens, pesticides, pharmaceutical and personal care compounds, nutrients, deicing salts)
  2. Effective Technologies and Solutions: Control and reduction of emerging pollutant based on multi-barrier concept, public education, management strategy and urban planning, development of low cost modular water and wastewater treatment technology, including nature-based solutions, to support public health and prevent widespread fecal, nutrient and chemical contamination of water resources (decentralized systems), development of technology, including nature-based solutions, for storm water management during challenging runoff conditions, development and implementation of technology generating less waste, reduce leakages, energy and water consumption, development of tools for system diagnosis and performance improvement and tools to support decision-making in green field or upgrade/rehab projects and systems’ management/operation
  3. Legal, Institutional and Regulatory Tools: Influence laws and incentives on protecting and improving water quality by providing efficient technologies
  4. Communication and Education: Knowledge and technology transfer to multiple audiences, create a water awareness program that connect water quality issue to cultural, social and historical context.

ARC position and activities

Clean and safe water are essential elements of functioning ecosystems, communities and economies. It is important to consider water quality when building proposal related to sanitation, fresh water ecosystems, safe drinking water, industry and mining, agriculture, water distribution infrastructure.