From risk to resource: enhancing blue-green infrastructure for advanced treatment of stormwater runoff


Event details

Date 21.05.2024
Hour 14:0015:00
Speaker Dr. Stephanie Spahr is a research group leader at the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on the fate and removal of organic contaminants in natural and engineered aquatic systems with special emphasis on water treatment with adsorbents and chemical oxidation processes. She conducted her doctoral research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag, Dübendorf) and obtained her PhD from EPFL in 2016. From 2016 to 2019, Dr. Spahr was a postdoctoral scholar at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University in California, US. Prior to joining IGB, she led a junior research group at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Dr. Spahr was a fellow of the Falling Walls Female Science Talents Intensive Track Programme and is a member of the Executive Board of the German Water Chemistry Society.
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English

Water scarcity and water quality deterioration are major global challenges of the 21st century. Climate change-related extreme events including severe storms and extended droughts exert increasing stress on water supplies and aquatic ecosystems. In addition, drinking water resources are compromised by an ever-increasing number of pollutants from insufficiently treated municipal and industrial wastewater, as well as untreated agricultural and urban runoff. Man-made chemicals such as pesticides, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals raise particular concern as they can cause adverse effects on ecosystems and human health even at trace levels. To eliminate these chemicals from water, advanced water treatment technologies are employed in wastewater and drinking water treatment. However, it remains a major challenge to capture and treat contaminated stormwater runoff for safe discharge into water bodies or use in the water supply.

In my talk, I will illustrate that stormwater runoff contains diverse and often unknown chemicals that can pose risks as complex mixtures. To promote sustainable and climate-resilient stormwater management, blue-green infrastructure elements such as biofilters or ponds are increasingly installed in cities. However, such nature-based water treatment systems often fail to remove organic contaminants, especially those that are persistent and mobile in water. I will present novel approaches to improve the treatment of stormwater runoff using bio-based adsorbent materials and chemical oxidants. Finally, I will highlight ongoing research activities to evaluate the reactivity of organic contaminants with oxidants and to assess effects of water matrix components on the treatment efficiency. My research aims to promote innovation for the circular use of stormwater and wastewater while ensuring the production of safe drinking water.

Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Free
  • This event is internal


  • Prof. Tamar Kohn

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