The Centre works with a number of companies and fuding bodies from all over the world.

Industrial collaborations

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Yorkshire water

The aim of this project is to develop, implement, test/verify and hand over a Risk-based Decision Support System (DSS) to enable control room operators to react and remedy failures in the Yorkshire Water Services (YWS) water distribution system before they impact customers.

The DSS developed as part of this Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) will maximise the benefit of collecting real-time data for rapid evaluation of bursts and leaks in a Water Distribution System (WDS). A number of models and data sources will be integrated and the synergetic effect of combining advanced technologies with experience of human operators will be exploited by the DSS. Moreover, the DSS will reduce the cognitive load of human operators by presenting processed and relevant information, ultimately helping YWS to improve customer experience and deliver world class service.

For more information see KTP with United Utilities poster

Company: Yorkshire Water Services Limited

KTP Associate: Michele Romano

Academic Supervisor: Prof. Zoran Kapelan

Project Length: 2.5 years (August 2010 - January 2013)

United Utilities

This project will develop further and customise the recently patented prototype Burst / Leak Detection System.  This system detects bursts, leaks and other anomoalies in a water distribution system by analysing pressure and flow data in real-time. 

Company: Unitied Utilities

KTP Associate: Dr Michele Romano

For more information please contact Prof Zoran Kapelan

Project Length: 3 years

STREAM Industrial Doctorate Centre

STREAM is an Industrial Doctoral Centre (IDC) for the Water Sector funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) together with sponsorship from companies.  It allows talented researchers to develop their skills and careers within an industrial environment through a four year postgraduate programme leading to the award of an EngD degree. 

The Centre for Water Systems has EngD students working on the following projects

HR Wallingford

A project with HR Wallingford is investigating the potential for the application of AI-based optimisation tools (such as genetic algorithms) to the outputs of the SAM project. 

For more information see AI Techniques for FRM in Urban Environments

WRc Group (Water Research Centre)

Work with WRc is looking into why sewers block and developing an understanding of the formation factors in small diameter pipes.

HR Wallingford

A project to develop new decision making methods for flexible adaptation of water engineering systems to a changing climate, urbanisation and other future uncertainties. It will first develop a generic software system to implement a number of well known methods for decision making under uncertainty. Then, specific water system models will be developed to support adaptation decisions relating to urban drainage, fluvial and coastal flood related problems. These models will then be tested on a number of pilot sites and the results obtained will be used to determine the most suitable decision making methods.

For more information see STREAM EngD HRW poster

United Utilities (UU)

Working  to develop new methods for the effective and efficient real-time management of water distribution systems. The UU water company is currently upgrading its SCADA system by installing a large number of new data loggers in their water distribution systems. This will enable the reception of near real-time pressure and flow data from field sensors to the control room. Once developed, the new technology will be used in the UU control room to more effectively and efficiently manage their water distribution systems resulting in significant monetary savings and improved company PR.

For more information see STREAM EngD UU

Northumbrian Water

Working together to look into: 1) Application of multi-objective optimisation to develop optimal intervention, control and management strategies for wastewater systems; 2) Impact analysis of system and future uncertainties (such as climate change and urbanisation) on management strategies; 3) Integrated assessment of various options for the water companies with the aim of reducing energy use and GHG emissions; and 4) Integrated assessment of the impacts of SUDS on flood risk and water pollution risk by considering in detail the wider water cycle through a fully integrated urban wastewater model.

Hydro International

A project to establish protocols for the selection of flow attenuation mechanisms to prevent flooding, minimise treatment and maintenance requirements, and reduce detrimental effects on the environment as a result of pollutant transport and accumulation. This will lead to the development of decision support tools which can be used by drainage authorities, consultants, developers and other stakeholders for the selection of attenuation mechanisms that will provide more effective and resilient urban drainage systems.


Working together to: (1) investigate processes and tools to maximise the potential benefits of using relational databases to enhance data collection and availability for strategic asset management; (2) develop customisable performance and risk based analysis platforms, driven by corporate data systems, which form the basis of asset management plans; (3) develop and implement tools to permit engineers to evaluate multiple intervention scenarios in terms of a variety of different criteria; (4) integrate optimisation tools into the decision making process to identify intervention strategies which are justifiable, auditable and quantifiable in their ability to deliver economically efficient and risk adverse solutions; (5) analyse and use data mining tools to extract and process useful information from real-time asset performance systems; (6) implement GIS and scenario modelling tools to better understand the consequence of asset failure.


This project aims to incorporate low impact developments (LIDs) or SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) and BMPs (best managment practices) into urban drainage system design. 

For more information see STREAM EngD Micro Drainage Poster and STREAM sustainable drainage poster

Current project partners

“HR Wallingford has chosen to work closely with Exeter University because of their effectiveness in carrying out research in areas of direct interest to the water industry. They not only maintain an interest and capability in leading edge science, but often their research output results in direct benefits and applications in the fields of water supply, sewerage and water resources. Although highly competent, working with the team is always a pleasure as they are very approachable and understand the pressures faced by those working in the commercial world.”

Richard Kellagher, HR Wallingford

“The Centre for Water Systems (CWS) carries out excellent research into algorithms and software techniques for use in water management. As a professional in the water and environmental industries, I find that I have an interest in just about every project they do. What is also important to me is that they understand what industry needs from research, so the CWS makes an ideal collaborative partner and the researchers are good to work with.

Water engineering is vital for the development and wellbeing of society. But water supply, stormwater management, flood mitigation and wastewater collection are difficult real-world problems. Research into new techniques and algorithms can have huge value in helping to transform water management, but only if that research can be applied. The CWS does seem to get it right – supplying both novelty and applicability.”

David Fortune, Director of Product Innovation, XP Solutions