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Water Innovation and Research Centre @ Bath: what, who, why, how?


Professor Jan Hofman


Wednesday 23 September 2015 at 4.15pm


Room 5.5, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)


Water is a key element for prosperity, well-being and human health. Water is essential for life. In 2015, about 91% of the global population uses an improved drinking water source, and 58% uses piped water supply services – this represents a significant outcome for the Millennium Development Goals. Sanitation remains a more pressing issue as around the world 946 million people still go to the toilet outside, and 2.4 billion people still lack improved sanitation. Open defecation is a practice which can lead to the contamination of drinking water sources, and the spread of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid. In addition, demographic change, human activity, and climate change all increase the stress on water resources and water quality.

Water scarcity is affecting more than 40% of the population and this amount is increasing. Water stress is present on all continents, and it hinders the availability of natural resources and economic and social development. Water is increasingly thought of as a significant risk to business sustainability. In January 2015, the World Economic Forum identified water crises as having the highest global risk impact, even compared to interstate conflict and the spread of infectious diseases. The likelihood of global risk driven by water crises ranked highly, alongside interstate conflict, extreme weather events and natural catastrophes, and failure of climate change action, or national governance.

The University of Bath established the Water Innovation and Research Centre @ Bath (WIRC @ Bath) in October 2014. The University and Wessex Water have invested significantly in this joint venture, resulting in the formation of a multi-disciplinary research centre. The Centre is based in the Department of Chemical Engineering, but is, in practice, overarching the whole Bath campus. Virtually all faculties and department can and do contribute to the research programmes. Collaboration with the water industry and integration of diverse research disciplines creates added value for innovation. This provides WIRC @ Bath with a significant opportunity to become a global leader in the field.

Professor Jan Hofman will introduce WIRC @ Bath and provide an overview of its current research and future ambitions.