An international conference on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) & Desalination is to be held in Muscat, Oman, in April 2014.

Organizers of the event, on 16-17 April 2014, will be the Public Authority for Electricity & Water (PAEW), the Middle East Desalination Research Center, UNESCO and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. It will be under the patronage of Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, chairman of the PAEW.

HABs, commonly called red tides, are an emerging threat to the desalination industry. High biomass HABs can restrict flow in desalination plants by clogging filters, but other impacts include fouling of surfaces due to dissolved organic materials that can also compromise the integrity of reverse osmosis membranes.

A HAB outbreak of the dinoflagellate Cochlodinium, which lasted nearly eight months in the Gulf‑Arabian Sea region in 2008/2009, closed or restricted the operation of multiple desalination plants, one for as long as 55 days. With little reserve water storage or alternative sources, this was a major threat to the region.

This two-day conference will bring together scientists, engineers, managers, and government officials. The date immediately follows the Sultan Qaboos University International Conference on Desalination, Environment and Outfall Systems.

Conference topics will include the following:

· A general overview of HABs, their impacts, and trends
· Case studies and descriptions of impacts of HABs on desalination facilities
· Results of experimental and pilot studies on HAB toxin removal during desalination
· Results of experimental studies on the removal of HAB biomass using Dissolved Air Flotation, ultrafiltration, and other methods
· Design considerations for desalination plants in areas subject to recurrent HABs
· Approaches to direct bloom control or suppression
· Action plans or management strategies to follow during HAB outbreaks
· Regulatory issues
· Research priorities and future plans.

Abstracts will be solicited in the next announcement with an anticipated closing date of mid-January 2014. Both oral presentations and posters will be welcomed.