SOLUTIONS for emerging pollutants

The range of chemicals in our aquatic ecosystems is increasing

How to deal with the ever-increasing range of chemicals found in our aquatic ecosystems? We do not know enough about them to decide if and to what extent they constitute a risk to human health and aquatic ecosystems. Deltares is coordinating the efforts of some of the best European scientists in this field to create an integrated system of state-of-the-art models and databases which will allow a knowledge-based risk assessment of emerging pollutants in Europe’s river basins.

packs of pills

A significant ecological and human health risk

We are becoming more and more aware of the presence of ‘emerging’ pollutants in our surface waters and groundwater. There is evidence to suggest that many emerging pollutants – for which the knowledge base that is currently available is rather limited – may be posing a significant ecological and human health risk through their presence in water bodies. Policymakers and water managers must decide how to address this risk in legislation (including the Water Framework Directive) and in water management practices. Drinking water companies wonder if and to what degree their production processes can keep up with the increasing ubiquity of chemicals.

Improve our understanding and modelling capacity

SOLUTIONS aims to provide a common knowledge base that covers a wide range of aquatic pollutants. The focus is on emerging pollutants (pollutants whose potential risk we are only now becoming aware of), including their metabolites and transformation products as well as their synergistic effects. SOLUTIONS should improve our understanding and modelling capacity with respect to the sources, transport pathways and transfer times (air, soil, sediments, groundwater and surface waters, including receiving waters, biota) and fate (including degradation, (bio)accumulation, spatial and temporal variability of concentrations in different compartments) of these pollutants as well as the risks they pose to the environment and human health.

Transparent and evidence-based suggestions for river-basin-specific pollutants

This project will integrate innovative chemical and effect-based monitoring tools with a full set of exposure, effect and risk assessment models. The Deltares role is to coordinate the set-up, evaluation and application of this integrated set of models and supporting databases. Stakeholders will play a crucial role. In particular, the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) Common Implementation Strategy (CIS) working groups, International River Commissions, and water works associations will receive direct support in the form of consistent guidance for the early detection, identification, prioritisation, and abatement options for chemicals in the water cycle. The SOLUTIONS approach will provide for the case-study basins and support the future review of priority pollutants under the WFD as well as potential abatement options.