Newsletter: December 11, 2014, Issue #49


Global WaSH News

Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (UN-Water GLAAS Report) Released

The 2014 UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (UN-Water GLAAS Report) was released in November, presenting data on WaSH from 94 countries and 23 external support agencies. The report, which analyzes strengths and challenges in WaSH both intra- and internationally, showed that global efforts to provide improved water and sanitation for all are gaining momentum, but funding gaps continue to hamper progress.

Passing of John Briscoe

The Water Institute was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Briscoe, a Harvard professor of environmental engineering who received the 2014 Stockholm Water Prize. John, originally from South Africa, had a decades-long career at the World Bank that touched countless lives. He was a great leader in WaSH and was beloved by his colleagues and students. John will be greatly missed in the world of WaSH and beyond.

African Countries Make Progress in Water and Sanitation Investment

Although great improvement was achieved between 1990 and 2012, WHO and the UN-Water’s GLAAS report showed efforts still need to be scaled-up in 38 African countries to increase access to WaSH services. Challenges faced by many of the countries include critical gaps in monitoring, weak capacity to implement plans, and insufficient funding despite increased aid for the WaSH sector.

Conference News

Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Energy and Climate

Registration is now open for Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Energy and Climate Conference, which will be held on March 15-17 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The conference brings together scientists and practitioners working in government, civil society and business, and other stakeholders to focus on how and why the nexus approach can be used on local and international levels.

2015 Water Microbiology Conference

The 2015 Water Microbiology Conference will be held May 18-22. The Conference creates a forum for researchers and practitioners focused on microbiology and public health issues to come together around the intersection of the two. With a focus on water microbiology from watershed to human exposure, the Conference will blend interactive workshops with scientific symposia and poster socials. A call for abstracts and side event proposals will go out in early January 2015.

Water and Health 2015: Save the date!

The 2015 Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy will be held at The William and Ida Friday Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA from October 26-30th. We hope to see you there!

Water Institute News

Water Institute Seeking Research Associate

The Water Institute is seeking a research associate to provide technical and project management support to its research team. This person will be responsible for assisting principal investigators with a range of tasks. The research associate may work on multiple projects at any given time, so the candidate must be organized and able to multi-task and have a wide knowledge of water, sanitation, hygiene, health, and development issues. Interested candidates should apply through Careers at Carolina.

Post-Doctoral Opportunities

The Water Institute is recruiting post-doctoral researchers in sanitation, urban water quality, and MEL. Sanitation research will focus on “fecal waste accounting” to estimate the release of untreated waste to the environment from sanitation technologies at various steps of the fecal waste management chain. The candidate will update estimates as data becomes available locally and globally. Research in this area seeks to help prioritize the risks from leakages and their control. The urban water quality researcher will undertake a project to systematically measure the health impact of water safety plans at three sites internationally to determine whether positive impacts achieved are replicable at other sites. The Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team is developing cutting-edge tools and resources for continuous quality improvement of WaSH projects and programs to measure and improve the delivery of WaSH services for rural communities and households. The MEL post-doc will lead various activities to contribute to the main objectives of the program. Interested candidates should apply through Careers at Carolina. In your cover letter, please identify which post-doctoral opportunity you are interested in.

New Module of Monitoring and Evaluation Course Opens December 17

The sixth module of The Water Institute’s Monitoring and Evaluation Course, “Precision and Sample Size Calculations (Single Numbers),” will open December 17. The self-paced online learning program will offer ten core modules in total including basic design, approaches to sampling, conducting surveys, and continuous quality improvement. For more information, contact

Water Safety Plans Distance Learning Course Starts January 19

Registration is open for The Water Institute’s distance learning course on Water Safety Plans. Water Safety Plans represent a new approach to managing risks of water system failure that was developed by the World Health Organization and field-tested in the UK, Australia, Iceland, Nepal, and Uganda. The course will begin January 19 and is ideal for those in the water industry with management, engineering, or operational responsibilities. The distance learning program offers skill and capacity building, flexibility, and professional recognition for participants.

Human Rights Research

In recognition of international Human Rights Day, we compiled some of our recent publications related to the human right to water and sanitation. Our 2013-2014 work explores dignity, public policy, indicators, and implementation.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Factors Affecting the Uptake and Retention of Vibrio vulnificus in Oysters . Froelich, Brett, and Rachel Noble. Applied Environmental Microbiology 80 (2014): 7454-59.

Vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium ubiquitous in oysters and coastal water, is capable of causing ailments ranging from gastroenteritis to grievous wound infections or septicemia. This study reviews a specific technique of observing uptake of Vibrio vulnificus by oysters that tends to yield results showing the bacteria to be readily taken up and quickly eliminated. However, oysters collected during colder months may harbor viable but nonculturable (VBNC) Vibrio. This study details bacterial-uptake experiments and cell-free spent media that show these oysters may appear relatively free of Vibrio while harboring VBNC cells that prevent colonization of oyster matrices. This could explain why the microbial community in oysters does not always mirror that of surrounding water.

Surveillance of Enteric Viruses and Coliphages in a Tropical Urban Catchment. Saeid Rezaeinejad, G.G.R.V. Vergara, C.H. Woo, T.T. Lim, M.D. Sobsey, K.Y.H. Gin. Water Research 58 (2014): 122-31.

Enteric viruses, including noroviruses and rotaviruses, and coliphages were assessed by collecting water samples from canals and the reservoir of the urbanized Marina catchment in Signapore. Two techniques were used to enumerate target enteric viruses and coliphages in samples, revealing noroviruses as the most prevalent pathogen. A multi-level integrated surveillance system could help to meet recreational and surface water quality criteria in a complex urbanized catchment.

To view all Water Institute publications, visit:

Campus WaSH News: Water in Our World

Water in Our World is UNC’s first ever campus-wide theme, running from 2012 to 2015

Mapped Data Offers Insights about Water quality and Birth Defects

Rebecca Fry is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and an expert on the impact of heavy metals on public health. Fry, along with researchers from UNC and North Carolina government, recently combined N.C. childbirth records and drinking water well data to study the connections between well water contamination and birth defects. The study found that water wells throughout the center of the state are saturated with manganese. Babies in North Carolina were more likely to have heart defects if their mothers drank water from these manganese-rich wells.

Fracking in North Carolina

Kathleen Gray, director of the Environmental Resource Program and lecturer at the Institute for the Environment at UNC-Chapel Hill, joined a panel of other experts in central North Carolina to discuss hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the state. Earlier this year, a new law lifted the ban on fracking, opening the door for fracking permits to be issued as early as Spring 2015. The process, which extracts natural gas from deep within the earth, is a controversial one. Opponents say allowing fracking in N.C. could cause air and water pollution and adversely affect vulnerable populations. Advocates say fracking could bring economic prosperity and jobs to the state. The discussion, led by “The State of Things” host Frank Stasio, aired on WUNC, National Public Radio.

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