RAEng workshop
RAEng workshop

Wastewater and public health workshop

Facilitating a key workshop on wastewater and public health

Risk Solutions facilitated a workshop for the Royal Academy of Engineering bringing together experts across industry, regulators, academia and recreational water users. They considered the viability of a range of interventions to mitigate risks to public health of wastewater. The workshop was to inform an Academy report on the topic requested by the Chief Medical Officer for England.

The challenge

The issue of wastewater pollution in waters used for recreation is of significant concern to many in the UK in 2024. Raw sewage, and treated wastewater which still contains faecal pathogens, potentially poses a risk to those swimming in the rivers and seas into which it is discharged. The UK’s ageing infrastructure makes it a complex problem to address effectively, with any individual interventions needing to be considered as part of a wider system that delivers flood resilience, ecological health and urban development.

The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) was asked to conduct a project to consider and assess the viability of a range of interventions to mitigate the public health risks posed by wastewater pollution of the rivers, in-land and coastal waters used for recreation across the UK. The work highlights some of the choices the government, regulators and industry need to address. The project scope was developed in discussion with the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Fellows of RAEng, National Engineering Policy Centre partners, policymakers and other experts.

What we did

Risk Solutions assisted RAEng in this work through design and facilitation of a final project workshop. This workshop brought together members of the project working group, industry experts, engineers, regulators, academics and representatives of the public users of water for recreation, as well as the CMO. The workshop generated insights on the viability of a range of interventions and the level to which they could mitigate any public health risks. The workshop formed the primary input to an RAEng report to highlight some of the choices that government, regulators and industry will need to address.

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