Newsletter: July 22, 2014, Issue #45



Global WaSH News

UN Watercourses Convention to Go into Effect

The UN Watercourses Convention will enter into force on August 17, 2014, after Vietnam became the 35th country to join. This global framework convention seeks to ensure the utilization, development, conservation, management and protection of international watercourses and the promotion of optimal and sustainable utilization for present and future generations. It serves as a milestone in the development of international water law.

Conference News

Initial Sponsors for the 2014 Water and Health Conference

We are grateful to the organizations that are sponsoring the 2014 Water and Health Conference. Their commitment helps to ensure that the Conference is informative, stimulating and widely accessible. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

  • FHI 360
  • Plan International
  • RTI International
  • Tomlinson Industries
  • UNC-Chapel Hill’s Institute for the Environment
  • Wells Fargo

Registration is open for the Conference, which takes place October 13-17 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA.

2015 Nexus Conference Themes

The Call for Abstracts will open soon for the Nexus 2015: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference, which takes place March 15-17, 2015 in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. The themes for abstract submissions for the Conference are:

  • Sustainable and Resilient Development: Scaling Up Effective Local Nexus Initiatives
  • Corporate Stewardship of the Nexus
  • The Opportunities and Threats of Financing Ecosystem Services within a Bio-based Economy
  • Sustainable Agriculture for a Growing Population in an Unstable Climate
  • Water Stress, Vulnerability, and Health
  • Managing Resources: Optimizing Co-Demands and Transitioning to a Low-carbon Economy


Water Institute News

Water Institute Data Featured in 2014 UN Millennium Development Goals Report

This yearly UN report examines the latest assessment of global and regional progress towards achieving the MDGs. Water Institute data on fecal contamination of drinking water in low- and middle-income countries is featured on page 44 of the report. The full study that includes this data can be found here.

Mapping Access to Clean Water in North Carolina

This news article highlights a Water Institute research project that examines racial disparities in water and sewer access in North Carolina. The project provides the first systematic identification of communities in extraterritorial jurisdictions in NC lacking access to municipal water service, as well as the first statistical analysis of the role of race in access to municipal water service.

Future Technologies for Water Competition Deadline Approaching

The deadline to submit an application for the FTW (Future Technologies for Water) Competition is July 31. The competition aims to identify breakthrough technologies for safe water with a sustainable business plan with wide-scale applicability. The first-place winner will receive $15,000 and the second-place winner will receive $5,000.

Launching Online Monitoring and Evaluation Course

The Water Institute, with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, is introducing a new course focused on Monitoring and Evaluation (M∓E). The self-paced online program consists of 10 core modules, including basic design issues, approaches to sampling, conducting surveys and continuous quality improvement. For more information, contact

Registration Open for Water Safety Plans Distance Learning Course

Registration is now open for the next session of our Water Safety Plans distance learning course, which will begin in September. The course is aimed at those in the water industry with management, engineering or operational responsibilities. The 10-week course covers five main content areas: preparation, system assessment, operational monitoring, management and communication, and feedback and improvement.

Hosting Side Event at Stockholm Water Week

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and The Water Institute are co-hosting a private side event for Hilton partners and invited guests at this year’s Stockholm Water Week on September 3rd from 9—11 am. The event will include the presentation of a new WaSH index for development and a panel discussion on the index with WaSH experts and thought leaders.

Recruiting Director of Research

The Water Institute is recruiting a Director of Research who, in cooperation with the Director, will oversee implementation of the overall research effort of the Institute and work alongside our faculty, researchers, students and staff. Requirements include a doctoral degree in public or environmental health or a related field, a minimum of five years of experience and expertise that aligns with one or more of our WaSH focus areas.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Global Assessment of Exposure to Fecal Contamination through Drinking Water Based on a Systematic Review. (2014). Bain R, Cronk R, Hossain R, Bonjour S, Onda K, Wright J, Yang H, Slaymaker T, Hunter P, Prüss-Ustün A and Bartram J. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 19: 917–927. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12334

This study estimated exposure to fecal contamination through drinking water as indicated by levels of E. coli and thermotolerant coliform in water sources; finding that 1.8 billion people globally use a source of drinking water which suffers from fecal contamination, and of these, 1.1 billion drink water that is of at least ‘moderate’ risk. Data suggest that 10% of improved sources may be ‘high’ risk. Drinking water is found to be more often contaminated in rural areas than in urban areas, and contamination is most prevalent in Africa and Southeast Asia. The authors conclude that global burden of disease estimates may have substantially understated the disease burden associated with inadequate water services.

Assessing the Impact of Drinking Water and Sanitation on Diarrheal Disease in Low- and Middle-income Settings: Systematic Review and Meta-regression . (2014). Wolf J, Prüss-Ustün A, Cumming O, Bartram J, Bonjour S, Cairncross S, Clasen T, Colford JM, Curtis V, De France J, Fewtrell L, Freeman MC, Gordon B, Hunter PR, Jeandron A, Johnston RB, Mäusezahl D, Mathers C, Neira M and Higgins JPT. Tropical Medicine & International Health 19: 928–942. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12331

This study sought to assess the impact of inadequate water and sanitation on diarrheal disease in low- and middle-income settings. Overall, the authors found that improvements in drinking water and sanitation were associated with decreased risks of diarrhea. Specific improvements, such as the use of water filters, provision of high-quality piped water and sewer connections, were associated with greater reductions in diarrhea compared with other interventions. Results show that inadequate water and sanitation are associated with considerable risks of diarrheal disease and that there are notable differences in illness reduction according to the type of improved water and sanitation implemented.


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

Environment and Health: Investigating Water Quality
July 22-24, NC Botanical Garden

Sponsored by the Superfund Research Program, this professional development workshop for science teachers led by Environmental Resource Program staff will provide participants with skills in water quality study affecting human health.