The 13th International Conference on Modelling, Monitoring and Management of Water Pollution took place in the San Servolo Centre in Venice, organised by the Wessex Institute and chaired by Prof Carlos A Brebbia.
The San Servolo Centre is the site of Venice International University, an initiative run by the two universities of Venice, in conjunction with Duke University (USA), Ludwig Maximilians Universitat (Germany), University of Barcelona (Spain) and Tel Aviv University (Israel).
The meeting has been held in a variety of different locations every two years since it started in Southampton in 1991. Since then all conference papers have been archived in the eLibrary of Wessex Institute (http://www.witpress.com/elibrary) where they are now freely available to the international scientific community.
The Conference provides a forum for dissemination of the latest developments amongst scientists, managers and academics. Scientific results that relate water quality to water discharges allow society to develop a framework for regulation and control. As a result, industry can apply more efficient methods of controlling and treating water levels.
In order to solve the major problems involved in water pollution, it is necessary to share experiences amongst many different disciplines. The findings of engineers and scientists working on this important field need to be communicated to all stakeholders in order to arrive at optimum solutions for the economic and social points of view, as well as politically acceptable at local, regional and international levels.
The success of this conference, now in its 13th edition, is largely the result of the meeting being able to evolve and attract a substantial number of young researchers, as was the case in Venice.
Opening of the Conference
Carlos opened the meeting by explaining the importance of the conference series to fulfil WIT’s objectives, ie the transfer of knowledge at international level.
Most WIT conferences – Carlos said – tend to be sufficiently small as to be able to have only one parallel session. This increases the contact amongst participants and enhances the discussions. They are also very friendly meetings, usually run in locations like San Servolo, conducive to informal discussions amongst delegates outside the conference sessions.
Over the years the conferences have published a substantial number of papers which, since 1993, have been archived in the Institute’s eLibrary (http://www.witpress.com/elibrary). It has recently been decided to make the whole eLibrary Open Access to ensure the maximum dissemination to the work done by the scientific community. This means that anybody can download the papers and distribute them amongst their colleagues.
Such a policy has substantially increased the number of visitors to the site. The eLibrary is also being searched by Google Scholar which further helps to disseminate the work further and increase the number of citations in the future.
In addition to Conferences, WIT organises a series of short courses, some of them directed towards industry.
Research activities continue to be carried out at the Institute campus in the New Forest in England. There, further advances continue to be made in the theory and applications of the Boundary Element Method (BEM), a technique originated in the research carried out by the WIT group when at Southampton University. Since 1986, when the Wessex Institute was created, the work has been centred in the New Forest.
The R&D on Boundary Elements continues to generate better computational tools for the solution of scientific and engineering problems. Carlos showed some applications to demonstrate the versatility of the method and how it can be applied to solve a wide variety of problems.
Carlos also referred to other publishing activities of WIT Press, in particular having launched a series of interdisciplinary journals in fields not properly covered by other publications. The International Journals published by WIT Press are:
- Sustainable Development and Planning
- Design and Nature, and Ecodynamics
- Safety and Security Engineering
- Computational Methods and Experimental Measurements
- Energy Production and Management
- Heritage Architecture
- Transport Development and Integration
These journals were launched in an effort to support the setting up of scientific publications independent of major commercial companies. Carlos feels that this is very important to avoid future research being controlled by commercial publishers through a closed control of the market aided by their own ranking system.
Carlos finished his introduction by wishing the participants a successful conference and thanking them for their support of Wessex Institute activities.
The ancient island of San Servolo provided a unique environment in which delegates could meet informally, as well as, during the conferences sessions.
San Servolo has a rich history stretching back to the IX century when the first monastery was established on the island. From then on a series of monks and nuns from different orders were to inhabit the island, including a period between the 12th and 14th centuries when many young girls from well-off families were forced to retire to convents in order not to divide the inheritances. Those nuns, unhappy with their seclusion on an isolated island, were frequently visited by “little monks”, affectively young Venetian men. The situation became out of control in many convents and monasteries around Europe, leading to a reform and a general improvement in the morals of the religious orders.
Following a period of quiet religious life, the island was to be used as a military hospital during the wars of the Republic against the Turks.
It was in 1715 when the first mentally ill patient was accepted on the island which was to become a mental hospital as well as a military one, when required by circumstances. It was to remain as such until 1978 when a law was passed in Italy closing all mental hospitals.
The community of Venice then decided to turn the island into a cultural and educational centre and in 1995 it became the site of the Venetian International University (VIU).
In spite of its small size, the island of San Servolo has many interesting attractions, which include a Museum of Madness where many instruments and descriptions of different treatments can be seen, an old pharmacy, a library with many ancient books and documents and a beautiful church.
- The Conference sessions were enhanced by a series of invited lectures, ie
- “The importance of soil erosion for surface waters in the case of the Rotbach creek”, by Ekkehard Christoffels, Erftverband, Germany.
- “New advanced technology devices for operational oceanography in extreme conditions”, by Giuseppe Zappala, National Research Council, Italy.
- “Hydrochemical features of groundwater occurring Botucatu municipality, Sau Paulo State, Brazil”, by Daniel Bonotto, State University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
- “Using benthic macroinvertebrates to assess water quality in 15 watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, USA”, by Robert Mahler, University of Idaho, USA.
- “Flood risk management in Nigeria: A review of the challenges and opportunities”, by David Proverbs, Birmingham City University, USA.
- “Field study on heavy metal removal in a natural wetland receiving municipal sewage discharge”, by Jabulani Gumbo, University of Venda, South Africa.
- “Alert system in case of excess withdrawal or rise up of groundwater in the sensitive areas”, by Zuzana Boukalova, Vodni Zdroje, Czech Republic.
The rest of the papers in the conference were classified in the following sessions:
- Water contamination
- Emerging technologies
- Water management
- Groundwater studies
- Monitoring, modelling and forecasting
- Wastewater management
- Flood damage
The Church of Brunello on the Island has an elegant entrance porch supported by Istrian columns. Its interior is airy and bright.
In the entrance there is a Nacchini organ. Pietro Nacchini (or Petar Nachich) was born in Bulic in Dalmatia in 1694. He was only 25 years old when he built the San Servolo organ. He went on to build various other instruments before dying when nearly 80 years old. They have great sonority, appropriate to the liturgy of the period.
Pier-Paolo Strona, amongst his many talents was a Senior Researcher at FIAT R&D and is now a Fellow of Wessex Institute, gave an organ recital to the delegates in this Church.
His repertoire included, amongst others, pieces by Frescobaldi (1583-1643) and J S Bach (1685-1750). Pier-Paolo Strona’s concert ended with a few compositions by S J Domenco Zipoli (1688-1726) who died in Paraguay before the expulsion of the Jesuit order from the Spanish domains. That was a sad episode for the Guarani Indians who were protected by the renowned missionaries from the greed of the other European settlers.
One of the most dramatic events was the way in which the Royal Order was carried out. The Jesuits were ordered to leave behind all their property except for a few personal effects. This resulted in a wealth of books and manuscripts as well as other items connected to the heritage and the running of the missions being left in the hands of the Royal Auditors. Valuable collections were dispersed while others disappeared. Recently a chest full of manuscripts, including a partiture by Domenic Zirou, was discovered in Asuncion. This includes some pieces that had been lost for centuries!
The concert was very well received and the participants appreciated the performance of Pier Paolo who came to Venice especially to offer such a unique concert.
There were ample opportunities for discussions during the conference and in the surrounding gardens of the isle. The environment of San Servolo was most conducive to forging links between the delegates and developing joint initiatives.
The Conference Dinner took place in a renowned restaurant preparing typical Venetian food. The delegates were conveyed by water taxi from San Servolo to San Marco where they met other participants under the arches of the Palazzo Ducale. From there they proceeded through a series of narrow streets to the restaurant.
The main course was duck, which is a speciality of the lagoon and can be prepared in different ways. This, together with an excellent starter and a well prepared tiramisu (another local speciality that has spread throughout the world,) was accompanied by wines from the Veneto region.
The evening was most enjoyable and the delegates took the opportunity to walk around San Marco Piazza before returning to San Servolo island.
Close of the Conference
The conference was closed by Carlos who expressed his appreciation to the delegates for having participated in Water Pollution 2016 and hoped that they would consider attending the 2018 meeting.
He also extended an invitation to visit the campus of Wessex Institute next time they are in the region so that they can appreciate better the work of the Institute.