Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Topic: Water in the circular economy

Water and the Circular Economy

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📥  Water in the circular economy, WIRC @ Bath

This October 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: Water and the Circular Economy

Speaker: David Baxter

When: Thursday 19th October 2017 at 1.15pm

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

Abstract: Despite the inherent circularity of the water cycle, water management occurs across a highly fragmented landscape, leading to conflicts, inefficiencies and waste amongst the complex array of water users. A drive for circular economy thinking in the water industry could help repair broken links and make better use of our most precious resources. The technical solutions and financial models that would make this a reality are growing fast. But are we doing enough to address the public health fears?

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2 A-Level Students Incognito at Bath Uni

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📥  Water in the circular economy, WIRC @ Bath

The following post was contributed by Joel Ambasna and Harriet Vann.


Through the Nuffield Foundation, we took part in a four-week summer research placement in the Chemical Engineering Department and the Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC) at the University of Bath. We joined the group of Dr Ana Lanham and were tasked with investigating the microbial populations of different wastewater treatment systems. Harriet looked into activated sludge systems and Joel into biological phosphorus removal systems. Both of these systems use microbial populations to do the work of “cleaning” the wastewater and we wanted to see what these microbial populations looked like and how different they were from one another. Minh (Nguyen, ChemEng/WIRC) and Megan (Stalker, CSCT), two of Ana’s students, threw us in at the deep end with some bulky books to read of which we initially understood nothing, but with their help we began to grasp the main ideas. (more…)

 

Phosphorus - too much of a good thing

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📥  Water in the circular economy, WIRC @ Bath

The following post was contributed by Ana Lanham, Lecturer in Water Science and Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering.


Phosphorus management is an imminent and very serious issue considering the fact that it’s both an irreplaceable and vital nutrient and one of the main contributors to eutrophication of water bodies across the UK and in the world.

Controlling phosphorus levels in treated wastewater discharges is increasingly becoming vital to the UK Water industry as regulatory limits are dropping from 1-2 mg/L to 0.5 mg/L in the current Asset Management Plan (AMP6) and potentially to 0.1 mg/L in AMP7.

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Towards an integrated approach to water for cities

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📥  Urban water management, Water in the circular economy, 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.

 

martin-passport-style-photo-2

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.

 

Water shortages still likely to affect UK food security

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📥  Water in the circular economy

A new piece of research from the University has found that despite us experiencing the wettest winter for 250 years, water shortages are still likely to be a problem in Britain.

droughtThe paper, published today in Climate Research journal by Bath and Loughborough researchers, warns that food security in Britain faces a real threat from water shortages in other parts of the world.

Dr Alistair Hunt from our Department of Economics said: “Many of the commodities we use everyday, such as food and manufactured goods, and especially those that rely on the availability of land or water, are sensitive to climate change on a global scale.

“Our research looked at the water used to create 25 of Britain’s most economically significant and climate-sensitive imports, essential items such as crops, meat, fish, fuels, pharmaceuticals and paper.

“We found that these products represented 30 per cent of Britain’s imports in 2010, and required 12.8billion cubic metres of water. From this we were able to compare the need for water with models that show the changes in our economy and those that show changes in the availability of global resources such as water, and determine how secure Britain’s future imports are.”

The research team has determined that Britain is likely to become increasingly susceptible to a loss of global water availability in the future.

Dr Hunt said: “Britain is susceptible to pressures on global water resources because the national water footprint and water import dependency are relatively high even before climate change and population growth are considered. Some of Britain’s most important water-trading partners are already water scarce and now face increasing scarcity from climate change.

The research group has also been able to outline how countries like Britain that depend on climate-sensitive imported resources can reduce risk, through measures such as investing in the development of exporting nations, and by improving trade relations with potential new supplying nations.

Dr Hunt said: “Many countries have studied the risks that they face from climate change within their own borders, but few countries have looked at the impact of global climate change on their wellbeing and resource security.

“Our study highlights that even in a time when water may be of huge abundance within Britain, its scarcity in other parts of the world is likely to have negative consequences for British people.”

Co-author Robert Wilby, Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling at Loughborough University, added: "Our research shows we really do need a more integrated approach to land, water and food, if we are to meet the challenges posed by climate change at home and abroad."

You can access the full research paper online at http://www.int-res.com/journals/cr/cr-home/