Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Topic: WIRC @ Bath

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

bryant-lee

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.

 

Special WIRC PhD Colloquium

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📥  Water and Public Health, Water Management, Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath, WISE CDT

At this special WIRC colloquium, we are exicted to introduce Mr Qiang Chen and Miss Olivia Cooke, both PhD students at the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, University of Bath.

When
Thursday 16th February 2017 at 1.15pm

Where
Room 4.8, Chancellor's Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Development and application of a novel PIC method to Fluid-structure interactions

Qiang ChenQiang Chen

PhD Research Programme in Civil Engineering, University of Bath

Abstract
With increasing computing power, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling has been considerably developed in many research areas. This work is motivated by developing a hybrid method for numerical modelling of fluid-structure interaction in the coastal and offshore engineering environment. In particular, this is based on the Particle-In-Cell (PIC) method where both particles and grid are utilised. While the particles are used for tracking free surfaces and solving the nonlinear advection term of the Navier-Stokers equations in a Lagrangian manner, the underlying grid is employed for solving the rest non-advection parts in an Eulerian sense. The idea being that the method should have both the flexibility and efficiency from pure Lagrangian methods (based on particles) and Eulerian methods (based on grid), respectively, with a reasonable accuracy.

Biography
Qiang obtained his Master Degree at Dalian University of Technology, China. He is now a PhD student of Dr Jun Zang at the WEIR research unit.

 

Assessment and mitigation of storm runoff loads from an informal settlement (slum)

Olivia CookeOlivia Cooke

PhD Research Programme in Civil Engineering, University of Bath

Abstract
One of the biggest global health problems today is that posed by urban conditions, most significantly in informal settlements. Within informal settlements, the lack of infrastructure including sanitation and sewage facilities can generate serious problems for health and the environment. Stormwater runoff influences these issues and it is necessary to understand the processes and characteristics of runoff to mitigate health risks from it. The aim of this PhD is to develop a scientific theory which determines how stormwater runoff, quality and quantity, is influenced by human and environmental factors, focussing on the case study of the informal settlement Enkanini, located in South Africa.

Biography
Olivia is a PhD Student on the WISE CDT based at the University of Bath in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. She is part of both the Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) research group and the Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC). Olivia studied Geography under an Open Scholarship at Aberystwyth University and gained a First Class (Honours) BSc. During her third year, Olivia studied for a term at UNIS in Svalbard in the Arctic. Her post-graduate study was a Master of Research in The Science of Natural Hazards at the University of Bristol. Fieldwork included studying the natural hazards in Guatemala, followed by research in Ecuador for her dissertation on volcano risk at Cotopaxi Volcano. Olivia is currently in her second year of her PhD.

Olivia's supervisors are Dr Lee Bryant, Dr Thomas Kjeldsen and Dr Wesaal Khan (Stellenbosch University)

 

Towards an integrated approach to water for cities

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

Hope you had a very nice break and all the best for the new year! WIRC would like to welcome Martin Shouler, Associate Director at Arup, to give us some insight information on integrated approach to water for cities.

 

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Martin Shouler, Associate Director, Arup

BSc (Hons) Physics with Applied Physics
MSc Environmental Design and Engineering
FCIPHE, FSoPHE

When
Thursday 19th January 2017 at 1.15pm

Where
Room 3.19, 4 East, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract
In Martin’s colloquium, he will reflect on the development of modern water systems in and around buildings and how they fit in the wider urban context. He will make the argument we need to consider water in a more integrated manner and how we might look to nature for inspiration.

Water plays an essential part in the life of our cities. It is required to provide our basic needs for drinking water and sanitation, for industry and commerce and plays an important part in our health and well-being. Water is both an enabler for allowing cities to work and can also present a risk in the form of flooding and drought. We are facing problems caused by both too little and too much water. As well as climate change, this is being exacerbated by population growth and urbanization. In addition, for many cities, existing urban water infrastructure is often at or approaching its maximum capacity.

In the ancient world, large cities begun to develop aqueducts and river-based sewerage systems to support their development. Growing understanding of waterborne diseases and the introduction of the water flushed closet led to the provision of a centralised water supply and wastewater treatment models which have served us well for over 100 years. As many of these ageing systems are now reaching capacity, new models for water systems are presenting themselves. There is a growing understanding of the need to deliver smarter, better, cheaper, more resilient and environmentally sensitive water and wastewater systems.

The increasing demand placed on our water infrastructure has meant traditional centralized infrastructure may not be adequate to satisfy our urban needs in an economic manner. Decentralization of water infrastructure has grown extensively as a viable solution including non-potable water from sources such as greywater, rainwater and stormwater harvesting where policies are trending towards a more rational use with integrated systems.

In our congested cities, access to blue and green spaces, as well as contributing to the management and control of water, can provide multiple health benefits. These range from reduced exposure to pollution and high urban temperatures through to improved mental well-being and providing opportunities for recreational use and wildlife habitats. Integrating these spaces with transport routes provide safe and appealing cycling, walking and running routes to allow citizens to travel more simply.

Water for buildings

When considering water demand for cities, much of it is related to buildings. Adequate water supply and drainage systems are a necessity for the safeguarding of the health and hygiene of building users; if they fail there can be serious health and safety consequences.

The design of our water systems are rightly influenced by regulations, codes and standards. But regulations, codes and standards do not always keep pace with how water needs to be managed, the influence of changing demands and needs of citizens as well as climate change. We need up-to-date data and decision support tools.

The need for robust data to drive engineering

Much of the design data underpinning these codes was collated in the 1970s. However, water appliances and patterns of use have changed dramatically since then. New water appliances have appeared and others have become more efficient. If the codes are followed, it is likely that hot and cold water systems will be oversized (and therefore not as economical) which can also lead to other costs such as increased space take, increased energy and water use as well as lower throughput of water and the water quality issues that brings.

Resource efficient building designs often incorporate water re-use systems such as rainwater harvesting, greywater and blackwater reuse, alongside standard drinking water provision. Hot and cold water distribution systems need to be designed to operate safely and hygienically with a range of demands placed upon them. Hot water temperature needs to be regulated to control bacterial growth whilst avoiding potential scalding.

Once buildings and their water systems are considered holistically with the infrastructure that serve them, we are able to apply new thinking to find ways to enhance their overall resilience. Good modelling and robust data is required to provide evidence base to drive new solutions.

Looking forward: towards a circular economy for water

Nature provides us many clues as to how we should manage water in an integrated way. We are all familiar with the basic premise of the water cycle. However, much of our water man-made water systems are linear in nature: running from catchment basin through to use through to discharge and eventually to the sea. For many contexts, a linear model does not allow for optimisation. For example, a circular approach can allow for value to be extracted from a wastewater stream so that resource flows can be enhanced.

Depending on the scale, perhaps a better approach is to circulate water in closed loops. In this model, water can reused, better maintaining its value. Closed loop systems can operate at the ‘unit’ (for example, process or building) scale, at development (or campus) scale or at the bigger ‘city’ scale.

Taking a systems approach, we are beginning to better understand the role that water plays in the ‘circular economy’.

Biography
Martin Shouler is the Global Environmental Services Engineering and Public Health Engineering Skills Leader at the international engineering consultancy Arup. Martin works on water and related projects across both Building Engineering and Infrastructure.
Martin started his career at the Building Research Establishment (BRE), spending 15 years in the Environment Division, ultimately leading the Public Health Engineering and Water Team. Amongst other things, he was involved in undertaking research and consultancy to support building regulations, water regulations and assisted in the development of the sustainability assessment method BREEAM. On leaving BRE, Martin joined Arup as head of Public Health Engineering for London.

In 2003, Martin became the founding Chairman of the Society of Public Health Engineers (SoPHE) which is the professional organisation for public health engineers in the UK and across the globe. He also served as an advisor to the Environment Agency with a special interest covering the water and construction industries.

Martin has extensive experience in the field of Water Engineering having been involved in a wide range of major projects, in design, research and consultancy across the world. Particular expertise includes water supply, sanitation, sewerage, water conservation and efficiency, water quality, water treatment, wastewater engineering, and infrastructure services. In addition, he has a keen interest in sustainability particularly related to minimising water use and energy associated with its use. He was a member of the Expert Group advising the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on the revision of water related Building Regulations. In addition, he is a member of British Standards Institution (BSI) committees responsible for a number of water sector standards and has been involved in the development many British and European standards.

Martin is responsible for Arup’s partnership with WRc on a new water innovation service – Venturi helping to accelerate the adoption of novel solutions in the water sector.

Martin is a Liveryman of The Worshipful Company of Plumbers and serves on their Admissions and Technical Committees.