European project TAPES identifies emerging substances internationally

A selection of emerging substances. Photo: Tapes.

The closing conference of the Interreg-programme Transnational Action Program on Emerging Substances (TAPES) recently took place in Brussels. The project has been focusing on identifying new substances which are threatening the water quality internationally. About fifty participants gathered in Brussels to listen to the results of the international cooperation project between The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England and Switzerland.

During the conference the programme focused on the results. A glossy magazine with interviews of some of the partners was presented and many speakers evaluated the project on stage. Project coordinator Jan Peter van der Hoek of the Dutch lead partner Waternet and professor Drinking Water Engineering of the Technical University in Delft started with an introduction of the TAPES-project. Helen Clayton of the European Commission Environment stated the European Commission is prioritising water quality. She spoke about the so-called ‘watchlist’ which contains substances that are being monitored before being added to the list of ‘priority substances’.

Actual information
TAPES started in 2012 and was funded by Interreg and the international water partners. Through exchanging knowledge and research the project was able to contribute to policy making in Brussels. The international knowledge about substances has grown and the information will be used in a decision support system that will be launched by the end of this year.
Through sharing actual information in a central system the knowledge about emerging substances stays up-to-date. “If the information is not renewed, the value quickly vanishes”, says drinking water expert Adriana Hulsmann of the Dutch KWR Watercycle Research Institute. She tells the main purpose of TAPES was to initiate structural international cooperation. Saving actual knowledge combined with the decision support model in Watershare is making TAPES successful.

Identifying substances
“In the beginning of the project sharing information was a true eye opener for some of the participants”, says Hulsmann. “They did not expect other countries were facing the same challenges. At the start of the project we worked on a longlist of emerging substances. After intensive discussions this list was down sized to a short list. Very specific substances only appearing on one location were rejected.”

Shortlist
At the end the shortlist contained ten substances (drugs, pesticides, nano chemicals and hormone disrupters). After investigating it became clear how to deal with these substances. For example preventing pollution, treating waste water at the polluting source or treating polluted surface water at drinking water plants. Water treatment at the source is less expensive and causes less pollution. This working method is, if feasible, always the best.

More information: www.tapes-interreg.eu