On 15 November 2022, the European Federation of Geologists (EFG) organised the webinar ‘Tackling the 21st Century Water Quality Challenges for Managed Aquifer Recharge‘. 

The presenter of the webinar was Dr Yan Zheng, Chair Professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen, China. The host of the session was Dr Tamás Madarász, Professor and Head of the Institute of Environmental Management at the University of Miskolc in Hungary, and a Member of the EFG Panel of Experts on Hydrogeology.

The sustainability of groundwater is threatened by overexploitation and by pollution, exacerbated by perturbations of hydrological cycle stemming from climate change exerting poorly understood water quantity and quality risks with uncertain outcomes. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) has been shown as a sustainable nature-based engineering approach for enhancing climate resilience and other social, economic and environmental benefits of groundwater. Yet to continue MAR implementation, water quality and quantity challenges both need to be addressed to maintain resource integrity. This presentation discusses how MAR professionals may tackle the 21st century water quality challenges. New findings on incomplete biodegradation of antibiotics, a type of trace organic pollutants, will be described. Given the threat of a large number of novel chemical and biological entities, it is suggested that groundwater monitoring programs pay more attention to them when justified, especially when MAR is used to bank large quantities of groundwater. Policy recommendations such as demarcating a subsurface attenuation zone to continue to take advantage of the natural purification ability of the soil-aquifer systems, and moving towards a risk-based regulatory approach for MAR under the framework of water recycling, will be presented.

You can watch the recording of the webinar at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaJnf0EX8cg

Dr Yan Zheng became a Chair Professor at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), in Shenzhen, China in 2016.

Her multi-disciplinary research contributed to the reduction of exposure to arsenic among private well households in Bangladesh, China and USA. She has published extensively in geochemistry, hydrogeology, environmental health and policy. She obtained her PhD from Columbia University in 1999. Between 1998 and 2016, she held tenured faculty and administrative appointments at the City University of New York and research appointments at Columbia University. She was a water and sanitation specialist with UNICEF Bangladesh between 2009 and 2011. Currently, she serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Environmental Earth Sciences, and as a Co-Chair for the International Association of Hydrogeologists – Managing Aquifer Recharge Commission.

Professor Zheng was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2010, and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2021.