Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment

News and Outcomes

More Publication Successes:

In Bioresource Technology
Luyarade Almeida Fernandes et al. published a scientific article: “Effect of temperature on microbial diversity and nitrogen removal performance of an anammox reactor treating anaerobically pretreated municipal wastewater” in Bioresource Technology, Volume 258, June 2018, Pages 208-219. Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) is a very promising biotechnology for nitrogen removal owing to its sustainable characteristics (low or even no oxygen consumption, no addition of external carbon source, and CO2 consumption). The collaboration between the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and the School of Engineering at Newcastle University facilitated the characterisation of microbial diversity in the reactors using next generations sequencing.

In Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
Lucas Vassalle de Castro et al. published a scientific article: “Behavior of micropollutants in polishing units that combine sorption and biodegradation mechanisms to improve the quality of activated sludge effluent” in Water Air Soil Pollut (2018) 229: 189. The collaboration between the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, the Department of Chemistry at the Federal University of Ouro Preto and the School of Engineering, Newcastle University evaluated the removal of six micropollutants (estrone (E1); 17β-estradiol (E2); 17α-ethynylestradiol (EE2); ibuprofen (IBP), diclofenac (DCF), and paracetamol (PCT)) from the final effluent of an activated sludge domestic sewage treatment plant using polishing filters. This low-cost treatment option may provide a more sustainable alternative to advanced oxidation.

 

Publication Success

A joint UMFG-Newcastle University scientific publication on the microbial safety of a small water distribution system in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, has been published in Water Science and Technology: Water Supply. The work compared traditional and innovative methods to detect pathogens in water samples and made use of the gene sequencing facility at Newcastle University.

AMM Batista, P Meynet, PPG Garcia, SAV Costa, JC Araujo, RJ Davenport, D Werner, CR Mota Filho. Microbiological safety of a small water distribution system: evaluating potentially pathogenic bacteria using advanced sequencing techniques. Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, ws2017091 

 

Summer School at Newcastle University gives Year 12 and First Year College students hands-on experience in water quality analysis

Bitesize Uni (also known as BSU) provides Year 12 and First Year College students with the information and opportunities to help them make an informed decision about whether or not they want to go to University. As part of the 2017 Summer School at Newcastle University, Dr David Werner taught 17 students interested in Engineering about the global challenge of providing access to safe water and adequate sanitation to everyone living on this planet. He presented case studies from his work on this issue with partners in Brazil, India and Tanzania. Following the short lecture, the students were able to gain some hands-on experience in water quality analysis using portable photospectrometers. They compared the occurrence of ammonium, nitrite and nitrate in surface water samples collected in different locations around Newcastle upon Tyne. Luckily, the water quality was found to be fairly good in comparison with, for example, heavily contaminated shallow groundwater below unplanned suburban settlements in low and middle income countries.

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Water-Energy-Climate Change Nexus presented at an Exhibition at the Great North Museum

As part of an exhibition on climate change at the Great North Museum, Newcastle University Master students Wenqi Chen and Jian Zang informed the public about the environmental implications of water use and engaged them with a questionnaire. Visitors were able to watch an animation about the carbon footprint and chemical demand of water treatment, which was prepared by the Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment, and filled out a questionnaire about their personal water usage and willingness to reduce it. Over 100 questionnaires were completed and will be evaluated as part of Wenqi Chen’s MSc dissertation. The lessons learned from the study will be used to engage residents in Newcastle University accommodation in the future to motivate them to minimize water wastage.

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Newcastle University and UFMG researchers meet to discuss their drinking water and wastewater research results

Prof Tom Curtis, Ms Tamara Coello-Garcia and Ms Marta Vignola from Newcastle University met Prof Cesar Mota and his research team in Brazil to exchange updates on their water supply and wastewater treatment research. Ms Marta Vignola presented her analysis of factors involved in the formation of the microbial water filters community in UK water treatment plants, for which she used similar tools as those used by Dr Ana Batista in her survey of a water supply system of a city in the state of Minas Gerais. Tamara Coello-Garcia presented her work on the degradation of estrogens in activated sludge, and Prof Curtis presented his work on simulating the dynamics of activated sludge microbial communites.

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Micropollutant survey in Brazilian wastewater treatment systems

Mr Oladapo Komolafe (PhD student from Newcastle University, UK) visited Brazil to complete a survey on the fate of micropollutants including PAHs, Triclosan, Estrogens and flame retardants (PBDEs) in different types of wastewater treatment processes. He was interested in investigating the occurrence and levels of these chemicals in this treatment systems. Also, to evaluate the limit of micropollutant removal in these different treatment systems ranging from a low energy to a conventional one. The plants surveyed were an activated sludge based WWTP, a UASB-Trickling filter based WWTP and a waste stabilization pond in Belo Horizonte. Lab work including extraction of compounds and biodegradation studies was carried out at Dr. Cesar Mota’s laboratory at UFMG, Brazil. Samples of bio-solids were taken back to Newcastle to investigate the microbial community in individual systems and to identify changes in taxa associated with the degradation of the chemicals.

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Visit at CSIR-NEERI to discuss Nag/Pili River data

Professor Upal Ghosh from the University of Maryland and Dr David Werner from Newcastle University visited CSIR-NEERI in Nagpur, India, to discuss their monitoring work on the Nag and Pili rivers. Sediment and passive samplers collected from different monitoring sites in the Nag and Pili rivers elucidated the impacts of human activities. Faecal contamination markers indicated significant inputs of untreated municipal wastewater into the rivers, while pesticide inputs were also detected with the help of passive samplers. Prof Ghosh advised CSIR-NEERI researchers on the passive sampling methodology, while Dr Rao and Dr Werner also collaborated on the development of a proposal for the UK-India Water Quality call of the UK Natural Environment Research Council and India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST).

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Investigators from UFMG in Brazil and researchers from Newcastle University discuss their research data

Professor Cesar Mota from UMFG in Brazil and Newcastle University researchers and investigators met to discuss the results from their collaboration on the investigation of a water supply system of a city in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil). The research applied traditional and next generation sequencing methods to investigate the occurrence of waterborne pathogens, and it the first to do so in a real water supply system. Study results have subsequently been published in a paper entitled “Microbiological safety of a small water distribution system: evaluating potentially pathogenic bacteria using advanced sequencing techniques” in Water Science and Technology: Water Supply.

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US-UK collaboration on PCB dermal uptake from contaminated pond-sediment and modeling

In May 2015, Dr Bao-Son Trinh from Newcastle University, visited Professor Ghosh at University of Maryland, Baltimore Country (UMBC) to investigate PCB dermal uptake exposure risks using a pig skin in vitro assay, and diffusion modeling. The tests have been setup and successfully implemented at the UMBC’s laboratory with three primary outcomes: (1) the effectiveness of activated carbon and biochar on PCB contaminated pond-sediment remediation; (2) the uptake of surrogate pig skin on PCBs from the remediated sediment; and (3) initial setup for modeling the fate and transport of PCBs in pig skin. The results have been accepted for an oral presentation at the 3rd International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Qui Nhon, Vietnam, Mar 6-10, 2017.

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UK- Brazil collaboration on biological wastewater treatment

Prof Juliana Calabria de Araújo and postgraduate student Daniel Dutra from UFMG in Brazil visited Newcastle University to perform next generation sequencing on samples from Anammox bioreactors and from biofilters to polish wastewater treatment plant effluents. They are interested in seeing how different temperatures applied to the anammox reactors affect microbial community composition and functioning, and how different biofilter media affect the biological removal of micropollutants. Next generation gene sequencing with Newcastle University’s in-house personal genome machine enables a detailed characterisation of microbial communities involved in the wastewater treatment process.

 

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Investigator meeting at UMBC to discuss urban sediment research

Dr David Werner from Newcastle University and Dr Nageswara N Rao from CSIR-NEERI met Prof. Upal Ghosh at UMBC to discuss passive sampling methods for assessing river and sediment water quality. Prof Ghosh and his students demonstrated their passive sampler designs and deployments in different areas of the Washington DC conurbation. Dr Werner took advantage of the opportunity and collected some sediment from a stream in the Washington arboretum, which is heavily polluted by urban wastewater. He will analyse the sediment for faecal contamination indicators such as coprostanol, while UMBC researchers will investigate persistent organic pollutants. The analyses will complement work done by Dr Rao in the Nag and Pili rivers in India.

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More sampling in the Yamuna and Ganga Rivers to identify inputs from Sewage Treatment Plants

Water quality analysis was carried out by Prof Z. A. Shaikh to estimate impacts of sewage treatment plants (STPs) on river water quality. River water and sediment samples were collected from Yamuna and Ganga Rivers and influent and effluent samples were collected from various unit operations of 12 STPs in Delhi. Different conventional and emerging contaminants will be assessed and efforts will be made to find the sources of pollution responsible for contaminating the rivers. Establishing a link between the source of pollution and the abundance of emerging contaminants will help in developing effective mitigation strategies to reduce the burden of the conventional and emerging contaminants in the environment.

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Visit to pilot-scale wastewater treatment facilities at UFMG

Dr David Werner visited Professor Cesar R. Mota Filho and his team at UFMG in Brazil to learn about their pilot-scale wastewater treatment facilities. UFMG has impressive facilities for both, pilot-scale experimental work on USB reactors and waste stabilisation ponds as well as teaching facilities for demonstrating water supply, sewer and drainage designs to Civil Engineering students. Newcastle University has recently established similar pilot-scale testing facilities in collaboration with Northumbrian Water Ltd (Dr Russell Davenport), and will also have state-of-the-art sustainable urban drainage and innovative water appliance testing facilities at the Science Central site, part of the Urban Observatory. It was therefore very helpful to find inspiration for the use of such facilities in research and teaching during the visit at UFMG.

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UFMG grant success

Professor Cesar R. Mota Filho from UFMG in Brazil has won a grant from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with partners COPASA, and Newcastle University and Cranfield University in the UK. The purpose of the grant is to provide Minas Gerais State with information to improve its decision making on the retrofitting of existing sewage plants and implementation of new sustainable sanitation infrastructure, thus reducing environmental impacts with waste to energy technologies and improving the living conditions and public health of approximately 15 million people. The project aims to develop a master plan for sustainable sewage and waste treatment systems for different scales and regional scenarios in the state of Minas Gerais.

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Microbiological safety of a small water distribution system in Brazil

Dr Ana Maria Moreira Lopez visited Newcastle University to discuss the results of her study of the microbiological safety of the water distribution system of a city in the state of Minas Gerais (Brazil) with 120,000 inhabitants. During her study, the city suffered from a severe drought that had a significant impact on water availability and quality of the river that supplies water to the city. Ana combined traditional microbial plate count methods with next generation sequencing, using the Ion Torrent facility at Newcastle University, to investigate the drinking water microbiome. Her results suggest that DNA from OTUs related to pathogenic bacteria was present in all months and, in general, with high relative abundance. The data show that, while E. coli was a fairly good indicator organism for pathogenic bacteria, based on the next generation sequencing results, other pathogenic bacteria may be present in drinking water when E. coli is not detected. Molecular microbiology will enable more comprehensive microbial water quality monitoring in the future. Ana presented her results at the 13th IWA Specialized Conference on Small Water and Wastewater Systems.

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Successful second GII workshop organized by IITD

Protection of water bodies is required for our survival as amount of fresh water present in the environment is limited. Contamination of waterbodies by wastewater generated due to different human activities results in spoilage of the water bodies. As part of the Global Partnership to Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment, collaborators from the UK, USA and Brazil came to IIT Delhi, India to discuss about different measures to be taken to protect waterbodies in the respective countries considering the local as well as global problems. Discussions were mostly focused on development of sustainable treatment technologies for treating conventional as well as emerging contaminants. Hands on practical training sessions were conducted to analyses heavy metals and different genetic markers to estimate pollution associated with emerging contaminants. Scientific talks included presentations on heavy metal solubilization during anaerobic sludge digestion, monitoring and possible mitigation of the emerging contaminants in River Ganga, biological treatment of coke oven wastewater, study of antibiotic resistance transmission and proliferation in Delhi and development of possible mitigation strategies, finding the link between metal pollution and antibiotic resistance, and antibiotic resistance: as a severe threat to the Ganga.

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Protection of water bodies is required for our survival as amount of fresh water present in the environment is limited. Contamination of waterbodies by wastewater generated due to different human activities results in spoilage of the water bodies. Collaborators from UK, USA and Brazil came to IIT Delhi, India to discuss about different measures to be taken to protect waterbodies in the respective countries considering the local as well as global problems. Discussions were mostly focused on development of sustainable treatment technologies for treating conventional as well as emerging contaminants. Hands on training sessions were conducted to analyses heavy metals and different genetic markers to estimate pollution associated with emerging contaminants.

Workshop Schedule

29th February Day 1:
10:00 – 10:30 Meeting at Biochemical Engineering Department
10:30 – 11:00 Tea Break
11:00 – 12:30 Lab visit
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch at Guesthouse

1st March  Day 2:
10:00 – 13:00 Workshop on qPCR (Session – I)
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 17:00 Workshop on ICP-MS (Session – II)

2nd March  Day 3:
07:00 Sampling trip to collect samples from Yamuna

3rd March  Day 4:
07:00 Trip to Agra for visiting STP

4th March  Day 5:
10:00 – 11:00 Oral presentation and Poster Session -1
11:00 – 11:30 Tea Break
12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break
13:30 – 16:00 Oral presentation and Poster Session -2
19:30 – Dinner

Details of Poster / talk

Heavy metal solubilization during anaerobic sludge digestion – Ashish K. Lohar and T. R. Sreekrishnan

Monitoring and possible mitigation of the emerging contaminants in River Ganga –a comprehensive study – Deepak Kumar Prasad and Z. A. Shaikh

Biological Treatment of Coke Oven Wastewater – N.Maneesh, S.Bhuvanesh, Z. A. Shaikh and T.R.Sreekrishnan

Study of antibiotic resistance transmission and proliferation in Delhi and development of possible mitigation strategy – Manisha Lamba and Z.A. Shaikh
Finding the link between metal pollution and antibiotic resistance – Sonia Gupta, T. R. Sreekrishnan and Z. A. Shaikh

Antibiotic Resistance: A Severe threat to The Ganga -Aditya Prakash Soni, David Graham and Z. A. Shaikh

 

Passive sampler deployments in the Nag and Pili Rivers

Professor Upal Ghosh from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), travelled to Nagpur, India, to collaborate with Dr Rao and Mr Kanade at the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) on the deployment of duplicate passive samplers in three river locations around Nagpur, India. In the picture below, Dr Rao holds the improved passive sampler design, which should minimize opportunities for interference by vandals. Passive samplers assist with the monitoring of trace levels of hydrophobic organic pollutants in rivers. One passive sampler from each location will come back to Prof Ghosh’s lab for analysis, and the other will remain at NEERI for analysis, for an inter-laboratory comparison of analytical methods. During the field work, sediment samples were collected from each site which will be shared between UMBC, NEERI and Newcastle University for an analysis of the total and bioavailable pollutant concentrations in sediment. During his visit, Prof Ghosh also helped with the pesticide analysis at NEERI using gas-chromatography-mass-spectrometry. On his way back, Prof Ghosh was able to spend an afternoon with Prof S. Z. Ahammad at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD) to discuss opportunities for passive sampler deployments in the Yamuna River.

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Investigating Emerging and Priority Pollutants in River Sediments and Working towards a Strategic Partnership

Dr. Z. A. Shaikh has visited Newcastle University during 26.05.2015 – 16.06.2015. During his visit he has done some experiments with Dr. Paola Meynet and Dr. David Werner to study the abundance of emerging and priority pollutants in UK (Newcastle upon Tyne), Brazil (Belo Horizonte) and India (New Delhi). He has learned the sample processing techniques to analyse all organic compounds (especially PAHs) present in the soil and sediment samples. During his visit he has multiple meetings with different faculty members and researchers of Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments/schools to discuss different ongoing projects and to initiate new collaborations. His visit also helped the PhD students working under his supervision at Newcastle University to finalize their work and finish the write-up of their PhD thesis. Dr. Shaikh is trying to improve the collaboration between UK and India by initiating faculty and researchers exchange opportunities. As a part of the initiatives he has meeting with higher authorities of IIT Delhi and NU (Deans of both Institutions) at NU to formalize the partnership between IIT Delhi and NU. Both the Institutions have agreed to go for a strategic partnership programme for improving the collaboration in research and teaching in various fields of Science and Engineering at both the Institutions. As a result of the meeting, NU has decided to send an appropriate team to visit IIT Delhi in February 2016 to announce the strategic partnership. Similarly, to improve the collaboration between GII partners, Dr. Shaikh (India) and Dr. Mota (Brazil) are planning to submit a joint proposal to continue the collaborative research efforts.

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Drinking water treatment seminar at UMBC

In August 2015, Maria Valdivia-Garcia, EngD student from the STREAM Programme and Newcastle University, had the opportunity to travel to University of Maryland, Baltimore County to present her work to partners from the Urban Water Global Innovation Initiative based at this prestigious institution. Professor Upal Ghosh and his team organised a 45 min seminar after which there was an excellent opportunity for networking. The presentation included statistical work done in the past year to produce a prediction model of trihalomethanes in drinking water treatment plants around Scotland as well as Maria’s latest work on characterisation of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in raw water using excitation emission fluorescence matrix (EEM) plots and size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC). Removing DOC compounds from surface water for supplying drinking water is challenging in many parts of the world, and DOC nature plays an important role when selecting the best treatment. Ghosh’s research group specialises in removal of organic compounds from sediments using different techniques, including activated carbon, and their expertise in this area could also be applied to drinking water treatment, thus providing an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas with Maria and to collaborate in the future.

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Anaerobic treatment of chemical toilets effluents in Brazil

In May/June/July 2015 Antoine Jan from Newcastle University assessed the treatment of chemical toilet effluents with Dr Cesar Mota at the department de Engenharia Sanitaria e Ambiental at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG). The primary objective was to assess the anaerobic treatment efficiency when it is feed with difficult to treat chemical toilet effluents. The collaboration had been very successful, since it provided a training opportunity for a Newcastle Environmental Engineering postgraduate student at UFMG taking advantage of their anaerobic treatment knowledge, practical experience and treatment pilot plants. The testing method proposed by the end of the visit should provide a reliable framework for the assessment of chemical toilet effluents and a great tool to the research of an optimised treatment solution for these difficult wastewaters.

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Investigating a new method to assess stormwater pollution at UMBC

In July 2015, Weihang Deng from Newcastle University visited Dr Ghosh and his research team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As part of the project of the Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment, Weihang got trained at Newcastle University by Dr David Werner, to develop a new easy-to-use Teflon bag method for stormwater sampling. At both Newcastle University and UMBC, he used this method to take stormwater samples from several storm events, then analysed concentrations of metals and PAHs in these samples. Other researchers in Dr Ghosh’s research team ran sampling by passive sampler and XAD resin in parallel to the Teflon bag method, with the goal of examining the accuracy of the new method. This work helps to facilitate stormwater sampling. Stormwater is both, a flooding and a surface water pollution risk in the urban environment. Copper was the main metal pollutant in stormwater sampled at Newcastle University, and mercury was the main metal pollutant at UMBC. UMBC had higher concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in stormwater than the samples taken at Newcastle University, but in either case, PAHs appeared to be of pyrogenic origin likely via atmospheric deposition on paved roads and parking lots. Samples at UMBC were taken from a stormwater retention pond (see photo), while samples at Newcastle were collected from water running along the curb of a road with parked cars.

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UK-India-Brazil collaboration on antibiotic resistance and micropollutants in the Das Velhas River

Dr. Z. A. Shaikh (IIT Delhi, India), Dr. P. Meynet (Newcastle University, UK), Dr. W. Mrozik (NU, UK) and Prof. T. R. Sreekrishnan (IITD, India) visited the Departamento de Engenharia Sanitária e Ambiental at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG, Brazil) between the 1st and 12th of March 2015. Their visit initiated the development of a new line of research at UFMG, focussed on the study of antibiotic resistance and micropollutants in the Brazilian environment. The current regulatory norms do not have any provision to target such emerging contaminants in Brazil.

In collaboration with Dr. Cesar Mota and Dr. Juliana Calabria (UFMG, Brazil), and their respective research groups, the India/UK team had collected water and sediments samples from Das Velhas River, and two major wastewater treatment plants (Onça and Arrudas) in Belo Horizonte area. The India/UK academics and researchers have shared their expertise on the specific topics and have trained UFMG students and staff on efficient river sampling and the analytical/microbiological techniques necessary for carrying out such studies. The Brazilian researchers welcomed the team with great enthusiasm to learn new techniques and also put utmost effort to provide a vibrant work environment.

During their stay, the India/UK researchers had the opportunity to visit the UFMG pilot plant installations, based in the premises of the Arrudas wastewater treatment plant (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), which inspired them to promote the construction of similar facilities in their respective universities in India and UK.

Prof. Sreekrishnan and Dr. Shaikh have also met the UFMG University officials to initiate new collaborative research in various fields of mutual interests.

This visit was quite successful as it greatly contributed to establish a fruitful collaboration between India, UK and Brazil on communal research interests. Following the Brazilian expedition, Indian and UK rivers have been sampled in order to compare the scenario of such emerging contaminants in the three countries.

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Engaging US regulators to assess the acceptability of a novel sediment remediation technology

In Feb/Mar 2015, Alero Arenyeka from Newcastle University visited Dr Ghosh and his research team at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). She interviewed US federal & state environmental regulators such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) as well as industry experts and fellow researchers at UMBC. These interactions which were mainly in the form of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires enabled her to obtain first-hand feed-back on her experimental results and an understanding of issues surrounding the application of carbon-based remediation technologies in the United States. Issues discussed include opinions on remediation effectiveness, cost effectiveness, regulatory concerns and public acceptability of carbon-based soil and sediment remediation technologies. This information which contains varied opinions would be helpful in determining the viability and ‘implementability’ of the technology in different locations as most of the participants have been involved in ground-breaking restoration efforts which involve application of carbon amendments. Alero also had the opportunity of familiarizing herself with ongoing work of other researchers at UMBC relating to bioavailability of sediment contaminants and was also able to discuss some of her research work and findings with them.

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Passive sampling campaign to monitor pyrethroid pesticides in Indian rivers is hindered by real world challenges

Prof Upal Ghosh from the University of Maryland, USA, sent a set of performance reference compound loaded polyethylene passive samplers encased in stainless steel mesh for trial deployment in several water bodies in and around Nagpur, India. Dr. Rao and his colleagues from CSIR-NEERI placed the samplers at different sampling locations, and Prof Ghosh helped to retrieved them during a research visit in December. Unfortunately, passive sampler recovery was low with the rope and sampler stolen at all but one site. The team has now learnt that the deployments have to be away from public access areas and not be conspicuous. A preliminary observation from the retrieved samplers is that at least one pyrethroid and a DDT product is detectable in the sampler extract.

Based on the trial experience, Prof Gosh and Dr Rao decided to make a few changes in their deployment strategy and will be repeating the exercise in the same rivers and lakes in Nagpur. The University of Maryland and Newcastle University also plan to do parallel deployments in some of the rivers the respective research teams have been monitoring in the past. The common goal is to develop the passive sampling approach for pyrethroid pesticides and demonstrate use in field sampling in several sites around the world. In addition to pyrethroids, the researchers will also be tracking other pesticides and water pollutants.

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Analytical training at Newcastle University supports UK-India research collaboration on antibiotic resistance in the environment

Manisha Lamba (IIT,Delhi) visited Newcastle University in October 2014 and had a training session with Marcos Quintela Baluja and Dr. Paola Meynet. The goal of the training was to learn advanced analytical techniques such as MALDI and NGS. Use of MALDI to identify signature antibiotic resistance protein is currently considered and practiced as the most reliable and fast method for pathogen identification, so she analyzed few of her samples collected from wastewater streams in New Delhi. She also explored the use of NGS in order to determine the distribution pattern of ARGs in complex environmental samples. This will help to assess the mechanism of ARG proliferation in the environment including treatment plants and river bodies and in the future possible mitigation treatments can be proposed.

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AEESP News Letter high-lightens the activities of the Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment

The activities of the Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment were highlighted in September 2014 Newsletter of the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP). The Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) is made up of professors in academic programs throughout the world who provide education in the sciences and technologies of environmental protection. The news item about the Global Innovation Partnership included a group photo from the workshop held in Newcastle in July 2014.

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Successful first workshop of the Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Restore and Protect the Urban Water Environment

The Global Innovation Partnership to Investigate, Protect and Restore the Urban Water Environment organized a successful workshop and a Public Urban Water Research Conference at Newcastle University July 11th-17th. Twelve delegates from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, US, the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) in Nagpur, India, and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi joined Newcastle University researchers to launch the partnership activities. Discussions included urban water research priorities in each country, and the related activities at each partner institution. Scientists from Newcastle University provided hands-on training in micropollutant analysis by liquid-chromatography-mass spectrometry and water microbiome characterization with Newcastle University’s Ion Torrent facility, while Scientist from CSIR-NEERI demonstrated pesticide analysis using NCL facilities. Delegates from all partner institutions and external speakers from academic and industry gave oral and poster presentations at the one and half day public conference, which concluded the workshop. In total, 38 urban water research related topics were presented at the public workshop, and more than 50 people attended the event. The program of the workshop can be found by following the public workshop link in the navigation pane.

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Investigating the effects of pilgrimages on antibiotic resistance in river water and sediments

Marcos Quintela Baluja joined Dr Zia Shaikh Ahammad (IIT, Delhi) and Prof David Graham (Newcastle University) in sampling the Upper Ganga River between June 1 and 3, 2014 to quantify and identify carbapenam and ESBL resistant bacterial isolates at different pilgrimage locations near Rishikesh and Haridwar. The goal of the work was to determine how proximity to intense bathing areas along the river related to resistant bacteria in the water and sediments, using a combination of MALDI-TOF MS, culturing methods and quantitative genetics. A tangential goal is to develop a strain database for rapid detection of resistant strains for potential use worldwide. A key element of this sampling trip was that it was filmed by BBC and has since been broadcast on BBC World News in India and around the world. It can be viewed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-28368313.

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Investigating emerging pollutants and their sources in Indian rivers

Dr Wojciech Mrozik visited IIT Delhi in June 2014 and together with Dr Zia Shaikh Ahammad and Dr Paola Meynet (Newcastle University) sampled the Upper Ganga River (locations near Rishikesh and Haridwar) and Yamuna River (New Delhi) in order to search for selected micropollutants (estrogens, pharmaceuticals, antibiotics etc.). The aim of this work was to study the levels of pollution of selected chemicals and identify their main sources. In the future, the best technology and approach to mitigate the risk to the natural environment will be developed and proposed. Additionally, sampling of local WWTPs was performed to define their possible contribution to the overall pollution. Dr Mrozik provided also training for IITD students concerning the preparation of environmental samples prior to transport and analysis by selected analytical techniques such as HPLC-MS/MS.

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Investigating the impact of traditional and emerging pollutants on the microbial community of Indian and UK freshwaters

In June/July 2014, Dr. Paola Meynet visited Dr. Shaikh and Prof. Shreekrishnan at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi (IITD). Together with IITD staff and students, Paola sampled water and sediments from seven locations along the river Ganges (near Rishikesh and Hardiwar) and five locations on the river Yamuna (around New Delhi), and the influent/effluent and sludges from five local wastewater treatment plants. In the laboratories of the Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology (IITD), from each collected sample, Dr. Meynet extracted and quantified triplicate DNA, which were subsequently transported to Newcastle University to characterize the microbial community, using next-generation sequencing technologies (Ion Torrent). In August 2014, Dr. Meynet presented her preliminary results at the International Symposium of Microbial Ecology (ISME15, Seoul, South Korea), in a paper evaluating the impact of traditional and emerging pollutants on the microbial community of Indian and UK freshwaters. During her stay, Dr. Meynet had also the opportunity to teach molecular techniques (e.g. quantitative PCR, cloning and preparation of samples for next-generation sequencing) to IITD students and she planned future research collaborations with Dr. Shaikh and Prof. Shreekrishnan.

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The British Council announces the winners of the 2013 Global Innovation Initiative grant application round.

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