Global water quality advisor

Is there anything more vital to the health of our planet and its people than the safe and consistent supply of water? Communities across the world suffer terribly from lack of access to clean, pure water; suffering that rang- es from the spread of diseases, to failed husbandry, to the despair experienced by drought stricken Australian farmers.

Water is elemental, yet it can elude us, disappearing into the air and oceans. Humanity has been cavalier and wasteful. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. Maybe it is time to change the way we think about and use water.

Global water quality advisor

Associate Professor Stuart Khan is at the forefront of this change. In 2014 he was appointed to the Water Quality and Health Technical Advisory Group(WQH), reporting to the World Health Organisation (WHO). As the international authority on water quality, WHO leads global efforts, advising governments on the develop- ment of health-based targets and regulations.

Through this appointment, Stuart Khan has become part of a dynamic global community. All of its members are united in seeking to transform the lives of those who suffer from unsafe or unstable water supply. In 2020 WHO will publish the most comprehensive guidelines ever created for water quality hazard identification and risk management, tackling issues on a global scale. Stuart has been providing expertise to the highest level of Australian government for many years as part of his pro bono work for the National Health and Medical Research Council Water Quality Advisory Committee. Originally, he was only one of two academics appointed to this committee and Stuart sees it as a solemn responsibility to use his expertise for the greatest good. Now his influence is spreading.

I saw environmental engineering as way to bring immediate practical benefit to human societies

Associate Professor Stuart Khan

Stuart moved across to engineering from science because he was attracted to the practical and creative nature of the field. He saw environmental engineering as way to “bring immediate practical benefit to human societies”. The Technical University of Munich recognised Stuart’s abilities by appointing him as the Hans Fischer Fellow. In this role he will work with the European Commission Water Framework Directive to improve the application of water quality guidelines there, with a focus on the remediation of trace chemical contamination from sewerage treatment plants.

This controversial re-use of water is a low cost, low energy answer to urban water management that is threatened by a prejudice; that ‘eewwhh’ factor. Working with organisations like the European Commission and the World Health Organisation maximises Stuart Khan’s chances of overcoming these prejudices and helping to realise a global water quality revolution.

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