World Water Day takes place on 22 March and is an international observance day as well as an opportunity to learn more about water-related issues. It dates back to 1993 and is coordinated by the United Nations. Each year holds a specific theme, related to a current or future challenge. This year’s theme is Better Water, Better Jobs, focusing on how sufficient quantity and quality of water can change workers’ lives and livelihoods and even transform societies and economies.
Lund University has several ongoing water, sanitation and development projects, study programmes, and research activities. We want to highlight interesting and ground-breaking research that we believe will help provide clean water for more people in the future, especially considering the increasing temperatures and demand for water. We hope that these projects will inspire others to take action and make a difference!
Join us in highlighting World Water Day by sharing your own water research stories! Tweet to @Lunduniversity using #Worldwaterday and #LU.
1) Good bacteria help purify our drinking water
Researchers from Lund University have discovered that our drinking water is to a large extent purified by millions of “good bacteria” found in water pipes and purification plants. So far, the knowledge about them has been practically non-existent, but this new research is about to change that. Learn more about Catherine Paul's research here, and watch short illustrative explainer video below!
2) Super detector tracks toxic algae
Toxic algae are increasing around the world as a result of over-fertilization and global warming, and is a especially troublesome in warm climates, such as in Africa. A biosensor developed at Lund University that can detect substances at 10,000 times lower concentrations than previously possible may now also be able to detect small traces of toxic algae blooms in drinking water. The detector was further advanced by former PhD student Lesedi Lebogang from Bottswana who was based at Lund's Faculty of Engineering (LTH). Learn more about the "super detector".
3) Collaboration on water offers great potential for peace
In the early 1990s, peacemakers, politicians and researchers believed that increased water shortages would lead to more war and conflict around the world. The conflicts in the Middle East were believed to become more difficult to resolve as water resources diminished. However, since then, the views on the role of water in conflicts have changed. Instead of being a cause of war,collaborations on water can become a source of peace – if managed correctly.
Learn more: Research on Water: politics and challenges
4) Solar cells help purify water in remote areas
A Water Resources Engineering team at Lund University have developed a water purification plant that provides clean water far beyond the reach of the electrical grid – thanks to solar cells. With the help of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, these small and portable solar cell stations have now been placed across rural Bangladesh.
“The installations are hopefully only the first step to set up similar structures in several other countries that lack access to clean water”, says co-inventor and professor Kenneth M Persson.
5) Water mafia take advantage of the poor
Despite rules and legislation on water for all at a reasonable cost, water shortages hit the poor hardest. In slums in large cities, illegal water mafia have emerged that take advantage of people’s desperate need for water. Maryam Nastar has studied water politics in two fast growing cities, Hyderabad in India and Johannesburg in South Africa.
6) Browner but better water means higher costs for companies
We can count on water becoming browner in the future. This is due to the increasing amount of humus in the water – a phenomenon probably caused by something positive, namely, that the acidification has decreased. But drinking water companies are forced to invest in expensive purification filters, because consumers do not accept brown water coming out of their taps. Learn more about this conundrum!