Vaikunth Srinivas Shyamsundar, graduate of Water Technology course (M. Eng.), reports on the projects Democratia Aqua Technica 2021 and the East-West Dialogue, sponsored by the DAAD funds from the Federal Foreign Office.

Democratia has three project-based events, and has been planned by the SRH Hochschule Heidelberg, the University of Novi Sad along with the Middle East Technical University, Turkey, and the Moskowski Gossudarstwenny Stroitelny Uniwersitet (MGSU).

The aim of the Democratia Project is to support participants in creating and designing innovative technical solutions for sustainable water resources management, which is required to reduce regional and local distribution conflicts. With this core concept being established, the discussion centred around different challenges to resolve through various media and methods, namely creating and promoting informative videos on YouTube and further development of the Explorer App for assisting in digital city rallies outside Heidelberg.

The still on-going COVID-19 Pandemic has yet again made us pause and reflect on how long it would take for everything to get back to the way it was in 2019. It left us no choice but to repeat the steps taken last year, conducting a virtual workshop to share ideas and work together on solutions for the challenge that is water management. Nevertheless, thanks to our expertise conducting online meetings for the better part of the last 2 years, we managed to successfully conduct this programme without any hiccups. As was the case last year, the project was divided into 2 parts; a hackathon with a variety of challenges which took place on 19 / 20 May, 2021 and 2 digital conferences – one conference for each project, held on 23 / 24 September, 2021 and 07 / 08 October, 2021

As planned, the online hackathon comprised of five different challenges. Participants were asked to innovate and develop their own ideas and concepts for unique challenges, namely, development of a water game with an idea of a meeting point, micropollutants and water quality, design features and methods of efficient operation during seasonal operation of WWTPs, the potential of river depollution in urban design as well as water usage and conflicts being the focus. The challenges were specifically designed to test the learning outcomes and creativity of the participants after the hackathon last year. Furthermore, students were able to complete the group activities in an intercultural environment, which they were not familiar with before.

The first digital conference was the main Democratia-Aqua-Technica Conference 2021, which was held on 23 / 24 September 2021. It was initiated by a welcome speech from Prof. Dr. Markus Breuer, Vice President of SRH Hochschule Heidelberg and was followed by a number of presentations by prominent speakers from Germany (SRH Hochschule Heidelberg), Hungary (Hungarian University of Agriculture & Life Sciences), Serbia (University of Novi Sad), Russia (National Research Moscow State University of Civil Engineering), Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology), Turkey (Middle East Technical University) and the USA (Metropolitan State University of Denver). The topics of the presentations included sustainable water and wastewater processing, clean water and sanitation, nutrient bio-extractive aquaculture as an alternative to nutrient removal technologies, evaluation of micropollutant removal technologies, pressure swing adsorption systems, benefits of green alternative adsorbents application, as well as meeting established market demands with sustainable technology. A digital city rally of Ankara (Turkey) and Novi Sad (Serbia) was also included as a part of the conference, which showcased the cities’ water and architectural highlights.

The second conference “Conference on Prevention and Resolution of Water Conflicts: Challenge for the Next Generation Leaders”, and was held on 07 / 08 October, 2021. This conference was also initiated by a welcome from Prof. Dr. Markus Breuer, Vice Rector of SRH Hochschule Heidelberg jointly hosted by SRH Hochschule Heidelberg and the Moskowski Gossudarstwenny Stroitelny Uniwersitet (MGSU), with presentations given other guest universities, including Heidelberger Institut für International Konfliktforschung (HIIK), Clarkson University, and Perm State University. The topics presented at this conference included:

  • Water Wars: How Control of Access Contributes to International Conflicts
  • The Challenge of Sustainability in a Growth Driven Economy
  • Analysis of Water Footprint in SMEs & Evaluation of its Socio-economic Impact
  • Sediment Formation in the Urban Collector System, Nutrients and Pathogen Export from Application of Manure to Frozen Ground
  • Water Quality Control for Semi-enclosed Coastal Water Bodies, Seasonal Operation of WWTP in Tourist Areas
  • Dynamic Interactions Between the Oceans and the Atmosphere, Analysis of Methods for Forecasting Time Series of Run Off Based on Artificial Intelligence and Regression Models
  • Centralized and Decentralized Treatment Measures for the Reduction of Pharmaceutical Emissions, Membrane Methods for Sustainable Water Resources Management
  • Numerical Weather Prediction for Flood Forecasting as well as Operations Research as Water Conflicts Case Studies

At this conference, digital city rallies were included for both Heidelberg and Moscow, during which both the cities’ water and architectural highlights were presented.

The (digital) doors are open to the public to attend a series of webinars currently 08 September, 2021 to 07 December 2021, including topics such as Conflicts & Cooperation, Intercultural Communication and Management, Management for the Leaderships of Tomorrow, Innovation vs. Sustainability, Design Thinking Workshop, Entrepreneurial Thinking and Acting in the Labour Market in Future, Sustainable Drinking Water Consumption, Water Wars, Artificial Intelligence & Augmented Reality as well as Studying in Russia & Germany.

These projects have enabled students and researchers alike to gain meaningful insights in education in German universities, particularly the services and opportunities. We thank the DAAD for assisting in us in funding such an important project during very difficult times, and we express great hope that we will be able to continue next year as well.

For more information, check out our Website (https://democratia-aqua.org/), Instagram (hshd_water_technology) and our YouTube channel.