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edX

Water and The Environment: Current Challenges and Solutions

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev via edX

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Overview

Water-related challenges are raising major concerns worldwide. These challenges are found at both ends of the pipe: the need to supply usable water of adequate quality for a rapidly growing human population, and the need to prevent pollution and diseases from wastewater discharge.

In this comprehensive interdisciplinary course, top researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev partner with experts from Yale University and Northwestern University (USA) to discuss pressing water issues and present innovative solutions and technologies for treating wastewater and ensuring safe reuse, mitigating water shortage globally, and reversing pollution of surface and subsurface water.

The course features Israel, a global leader in water management and technology. Discover the newest technologies being developed at the forefront of research: Recovering nutrients from wastewater for use as fertilizers in agriculture, desalination of brackish groundwater, soil aquifer treatment (SAT), recirculated vertical flow constructed wetland (RVFCW), and more.

We will learn about these technologies from an engineering perspective as well as the physical, chemical and biological processes involved. We will also see these technologies in use in several systems in Israel.

This course will provide a deep understanding of the complicated processes water undergoes from the source to our tap and from domestic use to becoming wastewater. We will answer these questions and many others:

● How much water do we consume, and where does it come from? (lakes, aquifers, desalination, etc.)

● How do we know the quality of the water we drink, and how does it compare to other countries?

● What ways are there to treat wastewater, and how is it treated in my country? What are the dangers of mistreating wastewater?

● What are the unique challenges in the developing world, and what are the suitable technological solutions?

● How can we develop sustainable water management so future generations have enough?

Syllabus

Module 1: Global Water Related Issues and Solutions

An introduction to the numbers behind the global water crisis and an overview of the most urgent water-related challenges and solutions.

Module 2: Microbial Health Risks in Drinking Water

Promoting safe and affordable drinking water requires knowledge about water-borne pathogens, their detection and their eradication methods, as well as the pros and cons of using microbial indicators.

Module 3: Nutrients in Wastewater

This module will show how nutrients in wastewater have the potential to act as major water pollutants, but, with the right technology, can serve as a vital resource.

Module 4: Membrane-Based Water Treatment Technologies

This module is all about membranes - one of the most significant technologies for advanced water treatment and desalination. These two applications increase water supply and help protect and restore water-related ecosystems.

Module 5: Seawater and Brackish Water Desalination

Some of the knowledge gained in Israel, which is a world leader in the assimilation of desalination technology into the national water management system.

Module 6: Fouling in Water Treatments Technologies

One major challenge in membrane technologies is fouling. Membrane fouling is a term for reduced performance of the membrane due to its clogging by accumulated material, such as bacteria or chemical residue. This module discusses the nature of membrane fouling and mitigation techniques.

Module 7: Onsite Water Treatment

In this module you will learn how, in some cases, using on-site low-tech treatment solutions might give the best sustainable answer to water reuse and wastewater pollution.

Module 8: The Vadose Zone

We discuss the forces governing the movement of water in the vadose zone and the processes that occur there. This understanding will help us recognize how we can effectively prevent or treat water pollution.

Module 9: Surface-Groundwater Interactions

Another zone that is extremely important to bio-geo-chemical processes is the hyporheic zone, which connects surface water and groundwater. Understanding the essential role of this zone for water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems is highly important to managing freshwater systems.

Module 10: Transboundary Water Management

This module will raise some of the “politics” and debates involved with transboundary water management in water-scarce regions around the world.

Taught by

Aaron Packman, Amit Gross, Edo Bar-Zeev, Eilon Adar, Menachem Elimelech, Moshe Herzberg, Noam Weisbrod, Oded Nir, Osnat Gillor and Roni Kasher

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