How can the water industry manage water-borne diseases?

Posted 1 September 2017

Water Research LaboratoryNew research suggests a link between climate variability and water-borne diseases.  

Australian National University’s Aparna Lal is a finalist for an ACT Water Leaders Award for her research into the management of water-borne diseases. 

“A lot of my work focuses on being able to provide natural resource managers and health planners with the information and tools they might need to both better manage our natural ecosystems and protect public health,” Lal said. 

“The ultimate aim of the work is to understand how human health and the environment are related so we can better manage the impact of environmental change.”

Lal said she has been able to look at comprehensive public health records pertaining to cryptosporidium and find patterns that show instances of the disease may be related to changes in the natural environment. 

“You tend to get higher rates of the disease in rural areas, and we’re also finding there are associations between the disease and climate variability,” she said. 

Lal said the biggest opportunity to manage and prevent water-borne diseases lies in fostering closer collaboration between the water industry, natural resource managers and health professionals. 

“Most of us acknowledge that there are increasing challenges that come with living in a rapidly changing environment,” Lal said. 

“A lot of the work I’m focused on is going to require traditionally disparate sectors to work together.

“I think if we continue working in our separated silos we’re not going to actually improve public health as we encounter such rapid rates of environmental change.”

Lal said she is looking forward to the ACT Water Leaders Dinner and Awards, which will take place on 7 September. 

“It’s a real privilege,” she said. “It’s really cool to be nominated as someone who is early in their career as a researcher and as a woman in STEM.”

Interested in learning more about the awards? Click here for more information. 

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