Two of our CEH colleagues, Professor Andrew Johnson and Mr Neil Runnalls, gave evidence to Parliament this week, as the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee continued its new inquiry into water quality.
Written evidence has already been submitted to the inquiry which was launched in December 2012 after the European Commission proposed a list of chemicals whose release to the environment should be controlled by wastewater treatment. In the oral evidence from science and industry, the committee heard that some of the chemicals are widely used in pharmaceutical products but their toxicity or otherwise to the environment is not yet fully understood. Furthermore the cost of their removal from wastewater has been estimated at more than £27 billion over 20 years, although such long-term investment could prove beneficial in managing future pollutant threats. Concern was also raised at the UK's position, particularly in England, in relation to the amount of water available to dilute waste.
CEH has extensive experience in water quality monitoring and in modelling chronic and extreme threats to the environment. Professor Johnson's research at CEH focuses on threats to the aquatic environment, such as posed by chemicals including endocrine disrupting substances, as well as nanoparticles and viruses. Neil Runnalls is Programme Manager of the NERC Water Security Knowledge Exchange Programme and a CEH Business Development Manager. He attended the session on behalf of Research Councils UK.
Others giving evidence included Thames Water, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Blueprint for Water Coalition, the Marine Conservation Society and Plymouth University.
You can view the full Terms of Reference of the water quality inquiry here. The Science and Technology Committee (Commons), which is chaired by Andrew Miller MP, is due to hear more evidence next month.
Posted by Paulette Burns