On 24 September 2015, over 50 participants attended the closing conference of the Interreg programme’s Transnational Action Program on Emerging Substances (TAPES) at the liaison agency Flanders-Europe (vleva) building in Brussels. Over the past four years the project has focused on the bundling and extension of knowledge on ‘emerging substances’: (new) contaminants that present a potential hazard to the environment, health and water quality.
Decision-model approach to emerging contaminants
TAPES was launched in 2012 and was co-financed, fifty-fifty by Interreg and the project’s partners. One of the benefits of the TAPES project was the contribution its research and knowledge sharing made to policy choices taken in Brussels. It also expanded international knowledge about emerging contaminants, and the information was connected to a ‘decision model’. As soon as a water company detects an emerging contaminant, it can use the model to obtain essential information about it and formulate a plan of action.
The conference began with a short presentation on the project and its results, which was quickly followed by presentations of a variety of perspectives on emerging contaminants. These presentations were made by several watercycle stakeholders, such as the European Commission, as regulator, and the European research centre DG JRC, but also by water sector representatives, such as RIWA, AquaPublica and EurEau. The pharmaceutical industry and the Stichting Huize Aarde consultancy for sustainable development also made contributions. All participants were convinced of the need to work and develop solutions together under the motto: ‘Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution’.