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Expansion to Asia: A Summary of the 2016 IUVA Symposium in Tokyo

by Kumiko Oguma1 and Karl Linden2

1. University of Tokyo
2. University of Colorado-Boulder
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The IUVA symposium “UV Innovations: Towards Sustainable Water Use” was held April 22, 2016, at the University of Tokyo. It’s been 12 years since the first IUVA conference in Tokyo, so the mission of this event was to update the things happening around UV applications in Japan and to think of UV innovations for the future.

The event was officially supported by Japan Water Research Center (JWRC), Japan Water Works Association (JWWA), Japan Society on Water Environment (JSWE), Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) at the University of Tokyo, and Research Center for Water Environment Technology (RECWET) at the University of Tokyo, in cooperation with National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Japan. Moreover, industrial sponsors included AquiSense Technologies, Nikkiso Giken Co. Ltd, Swing Corporation, Hanovia Ltd, Nedap Light Controls, Trojan Technologies and Carollo Engineers. Thanks to those strong supporters and sponsors! Approximately 120 attendees from industry, municipalities, water utilities and academia attended the symposium. Two water industry newspapers joined the event and wrote articles in their latest issues. The event featured simultaneous translation to and from English and Japanese so all participants could get the most out of the presentations.

The symposium was originally motivated to focus on these key questions:

  • For drinking water treatment in Japan, UV is approved as a measure against Cryptosporidium for systems sourcing groundwater and river-bed water. Why not for surface water systems? How do we expand the range of applications in a scientifically correct manner?
  • For wastewater treatment in Japan, UV has been used mostly in special cases with reasons to avoid chlorination (ex. Discharge area is a habitat of rare species of fish). Moreover, for water reclamation and reuse, UV has never been adopted in practice. Why not? What about the cases in other countries?
  • Innovative light sources, such as UV light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs), have been growing in the market. What will the future hold for these UV innovations?

Based on the issues above, the program was developed as shown in Table 1. The event opened with a remote video welcome from Dr. Jim Bolton. The following technical session provided an excellent overview the UV status in leading countries (US and Canada) and in the context of Asia (China and Singapore). In contrast to those countries, it was highlighted that Japanese UV guidelines are unique and UV applications in Japan are growing but still limited in number compared to the others.

During coffee and lunch breaks, active networking and discussions were carried out at the poster session and exhibitions.

To wrap up the symposium, a panel discussion was opened. Sponsors were invited to the panel to give short presentations on their UV innovations, followed by open discussion.

Questions from the floor focused on presumed bottlenecks that are currently hindering the expansion of UV applications in Japan. Major concerns were as follows.

  1. UV has NOT been considered as the best available measure against Cryptosporidium, because UV-inactivated Crypto is still detected by staining-microscopic observation. This fact makes it hard to convince people of the safety of UV-treated water, and that’s how the physical removal of Crypto by intensive turbidity control is more accepted in Japan. To be “Crypto-free” sounds better for officers and citizens.
  2. Many people believe UV treatment is expensive and not economically feasible for mid- or small-scale systems with limited finances. UV manufacturers and engineers should appeal more toward the cost effectiveness and small footprint of UV systems.

The IUVA Symposium in Tokyo was a great success to gather a broad range of people, not just from academia, and to let practitioners know the facts about UV applications. The event organizers believe this event was a great kickoff toward a renewed discussion of UV applications in Asia. Dr. Oguma, IUVA VP of Asia, is working to plan the next IUVA activity in Asia. We hope you can join us next time!