Problem statement: Recent commercial and residential development have substantially impacted the fluxes and quality of water that recharge the aquifers and discharges to streams, lakes and wetlands and, ultimately, is recycled for potable use. Whereas the contaminant sources may be varied in scope and composition, these issues of urban water sustainability are of public health concern at all levels of economic development worldwide, and require cheap and innovative environmental sensing capabilities and interactive monitoring networks, as well as tailored distributed water treatment technologies. To address this need, a roundtable was organized to explore the potential role of advances in biotechnology and bioengineering to aid in developing causative relationships between spatial and temporal changes in urbanization patterns and groundwater and surface water quality parameters, and to address aspects of socioeconomic constraints in implementing sustainable exploitation of water resources. Workshop outcomes: An interactive framework for quantitative analysis of the coupling between human and natural systems requires integrating information derived from online and offline point measurements with Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-based remote sensing imagery analysis, groundwater-surface water hydrologic fluxes and water quality data to assess the vulnerability of potable water supplies. Spatially referenced data to inform uncertainty-based dynamic models can be used to rank watershed-specific stressors and receptors to guide researchers and policymakers in the development of targeted sensing and monitoring technologies, as well as tailored control measures for risk mitigation of potable water from microbial and chemical environmental contamination. The enabling technologies encompass: (i) distributed sensing approaches for microbial and chemical contamination (e.g. pathogens, endocrine disruptors); (ii) distributed application-specific, and infrastructure-adaptive water treatment systems; (iii) geostatistical integration of monitoring data and GIS layers; and (iv) systems analysis of microbial and chemical proliferation in distribution systems. Impact: This operational framework is aimed at technology implementation while maximizing economic and public health benefits. The outcomes of the roundtable will further research agendas in information technology-based monitoring infrastructure development, integration of processes and spatial analysis, as well as in new educational and training platforms for students, practitioners and regulators. The potential for technology diffusion to emerging economies with limited financial resources is substantial. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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