IWA LET 2023 Wraps Up and Sights Turn to Essen, Germany for 2024

The International Water Association (IWA) recently concluded its highly anticipated Leading-Edge Conference on Water and Wastewater Technologies (IWA LET) 2023 in Daegu, South Korea. Held from 29 May to 2 June and marking the 20th anniversary edition in the series, the event brought together water industry leaders, experts, and innovators to share latest insights, exchange knowledge, and spark collaboration. 

This latest LET conference showcased developments in key areas relating to water and wastewater treatment. Themes included resource recovery, covering cutting-edge approaches for extraction of valuable resources from water, going beyond traditional treatment methods. One concept that gained attention was brine mining, which explores the recovery of critical minerals from reverse osmosis brine. This technique has the potential to generate revenue while promoting ‘Zero-cost’ water and ‘Zero Liquid Discharge’ (ZLD) practices. 

Expert keynote presentations included, for example, one setting out the experiences of Hong Kong’s sewage COVID-19 monitoring programme, highlighting the potential of sewage monitoring to support public health. Through this programme, over 7 million tests were conducted over a three years’ period, giving insights into the spread of COVID-19, helping to identify hidden cases and providing early indicators to help manage wider public health controls. 

IWA LET 2023 also emphasised the essential role of environmental engineers as carbon engineers. These professionals play a crucial part in managing waste carbon and transitioning to a circular carbon economy. From greenhouse gas accounting to electrified treatment and integrated carbon management, environmental engineers have an important role when it comes to climate change mitigation. 

Presentations across the event programme gave insights into progress that is being made. For example, the conference showcased advancements in greenhouse gas accounting within the wastewater sector worldwide. Methodologies are evolving, and so too understanding of how these relate to microbial insights, operational parameters, and environmental factors. Such developments contribute to a more environmentally conscious and sustainable industry. 

An important dimension of LET is the progress from theoretical research to practical application. The 2023 event underlined the growing interest in resource recovery and practical progress on aspects such as utilising renewable electricity for electrified treatment and nutrient recovery. This shift marks an exciting step forward in embracing sustainable practices. 

The event represented IWA’s latest activity to support and connect with innovation in the Asia-Pacific region. The 2023 event was organised with the support of a spectrum of key Korean water and wastewater organisations, and a further highlight was an agreement for future cooperation signed with Daegu Metropolitan City, the host city of LET 2023.  

IWA thanks all the participants, speakers, sponsors, and partners who contributed to making LET 2023 such a success.  

Eyes now turn to the next edition of the conference. IWA LET 2024 is to be held in Essen, Germany, on 24-28 June 2024. With its rich history and reputation as an environmental hub, Essen promises to be an ideal host for this prestigious event. iwa-let.org