3rd International Conference on the Design, Construction, Maintenance, Monitoring and Control of Urban Water Systems
The third International Conference on the Design, Construction, Maintenance, Monitoring and Control of Urban Water Systems (Urban Water 2016) took place in the Conference Centre on the Venetian island of San Servolo, organised by the Wessex Institute (WIT) and the Politecnico di Milano, co-chaired by Professors Stefano Mambretti (of Politecnico di Milano and WIT), Carlos A Brebbia (of WIT) and Nadia Ursino (of University of Padova).
As our cities continue to expand, their urban infrastructures need to be re-evaluated and adapted to new requirements related to the increase in population and the growing areas under urbanization. This series of Conferences considers these problems and deals with two main topics: water supply systems and urban drainage. Topics such as contamination and pollution discharges in urban water bodies, as well as the monitoring of water recycling systems are currently receiving a great deal of attention from researchers and professional engineers working in the water industry. Water distribution networks often suffer substantial losses which represent wastage of energy and treatment. Effective, efficient and energy saving management is necessary in order to optimize their performance. Sewer systems are under constant pressure due to growing urbanization and climate changes, and the environmental impact caused by urban drainage overflows is related to both water quantity and water quality.
Architects and town planners are also aware of the importance of the interaction between urban water cycles and city planning and landscaping. Management of all these aspects requires the development of specialised computer tools that can respond to the increased complexity of urban water systems.
The papers presented in the Third Urban Water Conference make a significant contribution to the solution of these issues.
Opening of the Conference
The Conference was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia who referred to the importance of this series of meetings to fulfil the objectives of the Wessex Institute, ie the dissemination of knowledge, particularly in sciences and engineering.
The Conference series organised by WIT comprises around 25 meetings per year, all conducted in a friendly atmosphere, conducive to the interchange of ideas and encouraging networking. The series which has run since the creation of the Institute in 1993 has been archived in the eLibrary of the Institute (http://www.witpress.com/elibrary) where they can now be fully downloaded as they are all Open Access.
These conferences are just one of the ways in which WIT aims to act as a forum for the exchange of knowledge. Other activities include courses on campus or in other locations, such as industry.
WIT attaches great importance to continuing to carry out research aimed towards the solution of practical problems, and over the years has developed excellent contacts with industry. WIT’s research strength is in the field of developing better computational tools required to simulate a wide variety of engineering applications. The highlight of these activities has been the continuous development of the Boundary Element Method (BEM) into a practical engineering tool. The Institute is renowned for being the originator of the method. BEM is now applied to solve an ever increasing range of problems.
Carlos showed some case studies carried out at WIT, including those which were part of larger EU projects. They included biomechanical studies, fluid structure interaction, electromagnetic radiation, bubble dynamics, offshore hydromechanics systems, fracture mechanics and others.
Carlos explained that the Institute has decided to launch a series of interdisciplinary Journals in topics which are not properly covered by existing publications. The future – Carlos stressed - is in learning to work together to cover many different disciplines in order to obtain solutions that are not only technically sound, but also respond to political, social and economic imperatives. This is the only way to solve the challenges faced by our present society. It is also important – Carlos said – that the initiatives of launching new Journals or similar publications are started by the scientists themselves rather than being left in the hands of major publishers. The international community should search for new areas of research as well as being the arbitrators of scientific ranking. To do otherwise will lead to research stagnation.
Carlos concluded by thanking the delegates again for their participation in this important meeting and hoping that the presentations will lead to profitable discussions, and that the delegates will interact with each other, proposing new methods and working groups.
The ancient island of San Servolo provided a unique environment in which delegates could meet informally as well as during the conference 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.
Its Church of Brunello 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.
At the end of the first day of the conference, Pier-Paolo Strona, who 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 the San Servolo 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 to offer such a unique concert.
The Conference sessions were enhanced by a series on invited presentations, as follows:
- “Optimization of pump operations in a complex water supply network: new genetic algorithm frameworks”, by Stefano Mambretti, Politecnico di Milano, Italy and Wessex Institute, UK.
- “Influence of chlorinated water on mechanical properties of polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride pipes”, Beata Kowalska, Lublin University of Technology, Poland.
- “Climate change impacts on urban stormwater best management practices”, by Michael Barber, University of Utah, USA.
- “On the efficiency of stormwater detention facilities in pollutants removal”, by Gianfranco Becciu, Politecnico di Milano, Italy.
- “Current threats to water supply systems”, by Jaroslaw Chudzicki, Warsaw University of Technology, Poland.
- “Exploitation safety of water supply systems in areas used for agriculture”, by Izabela Zimoch, Silesian University of Technology, Poland.
- “Reliability and efficiency of rainwater harvesting systems under different climatic and operational scenarios”, by Nadia Ursino, University of Padova, Italy.
The conference papers covered a wide range of problems and were grouped into the following sessions:
- Water supply networks
- Modelling and experimentation
- Stormwater management
- Safety and security issues
- Leakage and losses
- Water savings and re-use
- Water management
During the second afternoon the delegates were offered a most interesting lecture by Raffaela Rizzetto from VERITAS, followed by a visit to one of Venice’s water treatment plants.
The lecture was entitled “Management of decentralized waste water treatment plants in Venice. Analysis of costs and efficiency”.
The city of Venice is unique and special, and the peculiarity of its ecosystem led to the development in 1995 of a complex system of small decentralized waste water management plants. For many centuries a very simple system of disposal was used in the ancient part of the city, which although very efficient in the 80-90’s, became insufficient.
Consequently, new laws were passed and a waste water treatment system became compulsory both for civil and industrial activities.
Today in the city there are about 150 decentralized aerobic plants based on MBR and SBR technologies. Part of these plants are owned by the Municipality of Venice and managed by VERITAS, the public company providing services such as water cycle, waste management and energy distribution.
As Venice is a unique and peculiar city, the management of the plants is highly complex, taking into account the maintenance, sludge disposal and sample collection are all done by boat, via the canals and lagoon. Chemical analyses are performed bimonthly on the inlet and outlet discharges to evaluate reduction efficiency.
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 thanked the delegates for having come to Venice and hoped that they had enjoyed the experience of this unique city as well as having found the conference useful. It is through conferences like this, held in a friendly environment, that strong links are made through the scientific and technical community, and by lasting relationships achieved.