Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

German Water Chemistry Society Meeting

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📥  Other

The following blog post was contributed by Jannis Wenk, Lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

The 83rd meeting of the German Water Chemistry Society, with a record attendance of more than 300 participants, was held from 22 – 24 May 2017. This year the meeting took place in Donaueschingen, a town in the Black Forest, where the Danube River begins its 2860 km long south eastern journey towards the Black Sea passing through ten countries.

The annual conference provides a platform for the Central European water chemistry research community and is traditionally well attended by delegates from authorities and water utilities from Germany and neighbouring countries. The conference programme consisted of 26 presentations and 90 posters from the areas of water and waste water treatment, groundwater, drinking water, microbiology and water analysis. Dr Jannis Wenk, Lecturer in Water Science and Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering, represented WIRC with a poster that was based on his engagement in the German Water Chemistry Society task group on oxidative water treatment processes.



10th IWA Biofilm Reactor Conference

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📥  Other

The following blog post was contributed by Benedek Plosz, Reader in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Benedek Plosz has just attended the 10th IWA International Conference on Biofilm Reactors 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.

Biofilm processes are key to an increasing number of biochemical usedwater treatment processes. The main objective of this venue, focusing on Biofilm Reactors, is to bring together both practitioners and researchers to exchange new knowledge and to relate more closely practical implementation with basic research. The program was very strong and the organising committees and UCD (University College Dublin) did a great job to ensure the conference met excellent standards. The conference themes comprised Aerobic granular reactor systems, Bio-electrochemical systems, Moving bed biofilm reactors, Membrane aerated biofilm reactors, Nutrient removal, Modeling and control, Microsensing.

Our PhD students held two oral presentations (Torresi et al; Ramin et al.) focusing on modelling the fate of trace organic xenobiotic pollutants and biomarkers in nitrifying as well as aerobic and anaerobic biofilm systems. The studies focused on enhanced biochemical micropollutant removal and on the emerging field of wastewater-based epidemiological engineering.


Spring workshops

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📥  WIRC @ Bath, WISE CDT

The following blog post was contributed by Olivia Bailey, a WISE CDT PhD Resarcher in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

British Water: Off-mains Sewerage

In March I attended a workshop offered by British Water to address the options and challenges for off-mains sewerage in the UK. There were informative talks and some lively discussions from many stakeholders in the off-main sewerage world. The Environment Agency gave an overview of legislation regarding wastewater discharge in rural communities and approaches to tackling catchment pollution. Treatment consultants made the case for the good design and installation of septic as well as the need for package treatment plants. Finally, a representative for the National Trust spoke to us of the challenges and great responsibilities that come with managing the sewage of our beautiful, historic properties. The quote of the day came from one speaker who made the enlightened assessment that

‘mankind has come so far with technology over the years but still we are content to flush our toilets into a leaky trench’.

All in all, it was a very educational day in which a wide variation of off-mains stakeholders gathered in one room to work towards a common goal – the safe disposal of our sewage.

European Water Innovation Lab (WIL)

In April I attended the European Water Innovation Lab (WIL) on the coast of the Netherlands. This inspirational workshop brought together 40 young professionals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. We were trained to think holistically, design innovatively, and communicate effectively across cultures – in the hope of developing future water leaders. By uniting young researchers, innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs, WIL creates a platform to build new relationships, accelerate knowledge sharing, build transferable leadership skills, and co-develop potential solutions to water challenges across the globe. This was a really rewarding week where I was empowered to share my ideas and gain both technical and stimulating insights from others in a creative atmosphere. I met some hugely interesting people doing great work in the water sector and this really opened my eyes to the possibilities that are available in my future career. The innovation and drive that I saw this week has made me confident and excited to continue building my interesting network of global water colleagues. I left WIL feeling inspired and motivated to continue my PhD research and I’m very excited for my future career in water.


The Young Water Professionals conference: made by YWPs for YWPs!

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

The following blog post was contributed by Ana Lanham from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Marta Coma from the Department of Chemistry.

The Water Sector recognised some years ago that it was ageing and that it needed fresh talent if it was going to solve the important challenges looming ahead. With this in mind, the International Water Association (IWA), the largest international network of water professionals with members in 130 countries, began to actively push for higher visibility and empowerment of Young Water Professionals (YWP). The UK YWP Chapter is one of the strongest in the world. Its annual conference is one of the largest gatherings of YWPs and is unique in the UK for offering a tailored conference for professionals emerging in the water industry. The conference, now in its 18th year, has been growing sustainably ever since its inception in 1999 and this year attracted a record of almost 200 participants to think about how to achieve the vision of “A Water World without Boundaries”. Organised by the University of Bath as part of its 50th anniversary festivities, together with partners such as Black & Veatch, Wessex Water, The Foundation for Water Research, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institution for Chemical Engineers (IChemE), it brought together speakers and participants from academia and industry, from the UK and abroad. The scientific and organising committee involved more than twenty early career and senior professionals to deliver a program packed with presentations, workshops, discussions, new ideas and opportunities for career development.




Bath successfully hosts first ever UK Wetskills event

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

The following blog post was contributed by Chrysoula Papacharalampou from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Water Innovation & Research Centre (WIRC @ Bath) in collaboration with the Wetskills Foundation, have successfully organised the first ever UK edition of the Wetskills Water Challenge.

The Wetskills Water Challenge is a pressure-cooker program for students and young professionals from across the world with a passion for water. It aims to promote cross-sectoral collaboration and foster potential new partnerships across Europe, by empowering knowledge and cultural exchange.

Team work and mentoring is at the heart of Wetskills – participants discuss their projects with experts from the University of Bath and Wessex Water.

Team work and mentoring is at the heart of Wetskills – participants discuss their projects with experts from the University of Bath and Wessex Water.

For the UK edition, we had the pleasure to host a group of 12 talented young water professionals from multiple cultural and scientific backgrounds. They worked in transdisciplinary teams and formed innovative solutions for real-world challenges, such as flooding prevention, stakeholder engagement and resilient urban planning.



The Future of UK Coastal Research

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

The following blog post was contributed by Chris Blenkinsopp from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering.

The 13th UK Young Coastal Scientists and Engineers Conference (YCSEC) was held at Bath on 11-12th April as part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebrations organised by the Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) research group and WIRC @ Bath.  The goal of the conference is to provide a unique opportunity for leading young coastal scientists and engineers working in academia and industry throughout the UK to present their work and network with their peers.  Building on the success of previous conferences, the 13th YCSEC brought over 60 early career researchers and practitioners from more than 30 UK and overseas universities, research institutes and companies together for two days of fascinating presentations and exciting discussions.



Linking chemical-soil interactions to pollutant fate and transport from soil to water

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📥  Other, Water Resources

This May sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath and beyond.

Title: Linking chemical-soil interactions to pollutant fate and transport from soil to water

Speaker: Dr Brian J. Reid, Reader, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

When: Thursday 18th May 2017 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 2.1, 6 East, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The seminar will begin by introducing the fundamentals of how chemical and physical phenomena underpin soil-pollutants interactions. From this perspective the implications of these interactions for pollutant bioavailability and transport will be developed. I will introduce seminal research relating to the application of cyclodextrins as bioavailability mimetics (and standardisation with the ISO). I will provide insights into the interplay between pollutant exposure, pollutant bioavailability and microbial adaptation. These dynamics govern the opportunities for pollutants to move through the environment and to be degraded. To conclude this half of the seminar, I will outline ongoing research with: a European agrochemical company and a UK water company, with whom, we are developing innovations to mitigate pesticide release into the environment and to evaluate pesticide attenuation-competence across water catchments. The second half of the seminar will consider the opportunities to use carbonaceous materials to alter the bioavailability and fate of chemicals. Here I will introduce experiments that highlight the influence of biochar on: soil properties and soil hydrology, and; the efflux of soil colloids, dissolved organic matter and agrochemicals. I will highlight recent successes in the application of biochars to mitigate pollutant phyto-accumulation and markedly reduce the cancer risks in China’s Cancer Villages.



A medium term 'crisis' in water? Might Brexit be the answer?

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This May sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath and beyond.

Title: A medium term 'crisis' in water? Might Brexit be the answer?

Speaker: Dr Martin HurstMartin Hurst photo

When: Thursday 4th May 2017 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 3.6, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The water industry has enjoyed 15 years of static prices, while profits have been maintained and by and large improvements in service have continued.

But this may be coming to an end. A recent peer reviewed study by Atkins and others for Water UK showed that the likelihood of future droughts was markedly greater than had previously thought. There has been systematically underinvestment in asset maintenance. Catchments are under increasing ecological pressure. Population growth, new development and climate change are ever present. And the financial backdrop to the last 15 years’ price falls is coming to an end.

If this combination of factors is not to lead to a perfect storm of rising bills, falling service and increasing ecological damage we need a paradigm shift. Whatever the pros and cons of Brexit more widely, an ability to think afresh about environmental legislation – moving from process to outcome based regulation - coupled with the need to rethink agricultural support may provide an important opportunity for water.

The resultant new approach to catchment management could involve a genuine partnership between land managers, water companies and flood defence agencies with benefits for water availability, environmental quality and flood defences. All with potentially reduced water bills.

There seem to be two ways of achieving this: evolutionary change, or a move to a ‘system operator/natural capital trading’ approach. Neither are without their risks. Both require a degree of cross sectoral and multiple benefits thinking which has not proved easy to achieve in the UK to date.



The effects of oxygen availability and turbulence on water quality in lakes and reservoirs

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

This March sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: The effects of oxygen availability and turbulence on water quality in lakes and reservoirs

Speaker: Dr Lee Bryant


When: 16 March2017 at 1.15pm

Where:  CB 4.8,University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Oxygen and mixing conditions in aquatic systems have a significant influence on the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, metals, and other species at the sediment-water interface; these fluxes often control water quality in lakes and reservoirs. In an effort to counter problems with decreased water quality stemming from anoxic conditions, engineered techniques such as hypolimnetic oxygenation systems are being used more and more prevalently to increase aquatic oxygen concentrations and reduce concentrations of deleterious soluble species. Decreased oxygen levels in oceans are also becoming increasingly problematic due to enhanced anthropogenic effects and global warming. In both freshwater and marine systems, fluxes of oxygen, nutrients, and other chemical species are known to be strongly controlled not only by concentration but also by turbulence such as internal waves; however, hydrodynamics can be highly variable and effects on biogeochemical cycling and corresponding water quality are not currently understood. Based on in-situ microprofiler and aquatic eddy correlation measurements, results will be presented from three process studies focusing on (1) the effects of internal waves (e.g., seiches), (2) bioturbation, and (3) engineered hypolimnetic oxygenation / aeration on sediment-water fluxes of oxygen and manganese in lakes and reservoirs. These studies will be used to highlight the physical and chemical processes controlling biogeochemical cycling and related water quality in aquatic systems.

Contact: Please email Shan Bradley-Cong if you need any further information.