In Abu Dhabi, a new wastewater monitoring lab facility will soon analyze wastewater samples and give early alerts about contagious diseases, hazardous chemicals, and environmental damage. The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) has started construction of this facility which will be the first of its type in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the testing will incorporate automated sampling and data processing using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Infectious diseases (viruses/bacteria), parasites, pathogenic yeast and fungus, medicinal substances, and other lifestyle-related products will all be tested at the facility, which is projected to be finished in 12 months.
The water treatment laboratory’s primary function is to verify that the drinking water produced at the Water Treatment Plant fulfills or exceeds the established Federal and Provincial quality and portability criteria. Notably, in the wake of the pandemic, the Department of Energy has worked hard to assure the quality of treated water and ensured that it is free of hazardous chemicals when wastewater was tested for evidence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
DoE Chairman Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, says “Based on the success of the wastewater examination for traces of SARS-CoV-2 program in 2020, the DoE launched the Wastewater Monitoring Lab — a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to such activities. Our objective is to protect the community at all times by developing systems to detect and curb threats to public health”.
Nature is capable of dealing with small amounts of water waste and pollution, but it would be overwhelmed if humans didn’t clean the billions of gallons of wastewater and sewage generated every day before releasing it back into the ecosystem. The laboratory can function as a useful tool to provide suggestions based on regular sample analysis to maintain adequate operational control at the wastewater facility. Al Marar added, “The Wastewater Monitoring Lab can provide an early warning for potential contaminants and threats to public health and the environment. But it can also be a powerful tool allowing us to detect other pathogens, harmful chemicals, or even banned substances. This, in turn, creates a solid foundation for decisions and programs to be developed to combat any emerging threat”.
Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi said in May 2020 that its experts were investigating municipal wastewater to better understand the COVID-19 virus’s transmission. The research assisted in monitoring the viral load in municipal wastewater as a means of early detection and tracking the spread of the coronavirus in the general population. Researchers stated a month later that they had tested treated wastewater from three separate treatment facilities in three emirates and found no evidence of the COVID-19 virus in the samples. After that, the treated water was approved for use for agricultural and municipal purposes.
FUTURE LAB FACILITY PROJECT
Handling and processing emergency wastewater samples suspected of contamination with hazardous materials, as well as analyzing samples suspected of contamination with a known or unknown substance, are among the goals of the new lab project. The laboratory can then confirm or rule out the existence of pollutants, look for other contaminants that might be a problem in the future, and provide reliable data to help with intervention options. The lab facility can reduce pollutants in wastewater to a level nature can handle. Radionuclides, biotoxins, pathogens, biological hazards, excessive concentrations of industrial chemicals, and unlawful discharges will be the focus of the upcoming lab’s activities.