In Zaragoza, UN spotlights use of nuclear technology to protect water resources

27 August 2008

The United Nations agency tasked with promoting safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies will be showcasing its efforts to protect the world’s water resources at a major exhibition currently being held in the Spanish city of Zaragoza.

The International Expo on Water and Sustainable Development, which runs from 14 June to 14 September, is expected to draw 6.5 million visitors from around the globe and will feature presentations by over 2,000 international experts on water-themed exhibits, lectures, performances and concerts.

Over the next three days, staff from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be on hand to share information on its efforts in the area of water, particularly the use of isotope hydrology – a nuclear technique that helps experts to identify the size, origin, flow and age of a particular water source, which can help planners to better manage their water resources.

“Water is probably the most pressing issue in development today,” said IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Werner Burkart.

“The Agency’s work in using isotope hydrology to assist countries to manage their water resources is of particular relevance. In this regard, we work very closely both with our member States and with other agencies in the UN Water group to ensure that nuclear technology is part of any country’s strategic planning in the area of water,” he stated.

Visitors to the IAEA exhibit will be able to interact with isotope hydrology tools, including devices for on-site measurements for water quality parameters and a laser spectrometer for stable isotope measurements.

The Agency will also be showcasing a new short film, The Search for Water, which will be screened for visitors this week. The eight-minute film details the work of the IAEA’s Isotope Hydrology Section and features commentary by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

Through its Technical Cooperation Programme, the IAEA currently has more than 80 on-going projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that map underground aquifers, manage ground and surface water, monitor dam leakage and help control pollution.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to give a speech at the Expo about the importance of water for social, economic and political security when he visits next week.

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