Probably the most important matter on the planet

Hello, my name is Ludo Feyen. My accredited laboratory in Belgium is called Labo Derva.

I advise member countries and legislators of the European Union on water issues, and I also provide advanced water analysis and risk assessment for water treatment in government,
industry, agriculture and tourism around the world.

In Europe our standards for water are different than in North America. As a result our advice on water can be useful to you.

When you look at how we have existed over many centuries you will understand.

In North America you have approximately 8% of the world’s population and over 70% of the world’s fresh water supply outside of the polar ice caps. Water is in abundance and has always been available to you.

In Europe our urban civilizations have existed much longer than yours. We have 50% more of the world’s population than you and less than 20% of the world’s fresh water supply. A little has to go a long way for us.

By necessity we have developed a very advanced set of methods for analyzing, evaluating and treating water to meet large
population needs and environmental and infrastructure requirements.

Europe needs cleaner water, because when it goes back into our source supply we have fewer water resources to treat and we need to keep water clean by necessity. We have little we can waste.

In Europe we try to avoid seasonal overload of nutrients in the water supply like phosphates and nitrates so to avoid massive algae blooms and other contaminant overloads.

We try to set realistic and needed water quality limits in surface water so all stakeholders take action at all levels of society to ensure reductions of harmful substances. We have found this helps drive innovation and more sustainable practices and clean technologies in industry and agriculture.

I advise the adoption of what I call a ‘thoughtful approach’: looking at the consequences of different actions. I start with this point: It is essential that water be kept safe. But in the process of purifying the water, the methods and chemicals being used must create little or no by-products; in effect it should do the least harm.

Where safe water doesn’t contain harmful substances or micro-organisms, healthy water also contains a minimum amount of minerals and trace elements, is balanced and supports health.
It is also better if we can keep water healthy. Where safe water doesn’t contain harmful substances or micro-organisms, healthy water also contains a minimum amount of minerals and trace elements, is balanced and supports health.

There are many emerging contaminants, such as new disinfection by-products, pharmaceutical by-products, pesticides and industrial by-products that all together pose a real threat to the protection of source water and need customized solutions to remove them now and prevent them in the future.

This is what part of my job is about: Advising on ways of providing clean water that does not create more problems than it solves, by using the ‘thoughtful approach’.

It’s essential that we treat water with the utmost respect in line with nature’s methods for filtering it and try to emulate those as closely as possible. We also have to use water sparingly and be responsible, by re-using and recycling, whenever possible, and without creating by-products.

My vision is this: In the future the aquifer may be depleted to such an extent that most of the drinkable water will come from surface water. This is why we must stop contaminating the water supply now, so that we will not have the huge challenge of removing these contaminants in the future.

We actively have to work together with all stakeholders in our communities now, to create a sustainable, safe and healthy water supply in the future. Our children’s children will be glad we did.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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