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Recent Projects

Take a look at our recent projects by clicking on the title below to find out more information:

BRIM is a network that brings together academics, engineers and policy makers to develop a shared, multi-disciplinary vision of how to build resilience into networked risk management for highly complex engineered systems.

The aim of the network was to nurture the development of novel methodologies and tools of building resilience into networked risk management of critical infrastructure systems for identifying tipping points of interdependencies and managing cascade effects of extreme events, in particular those related to extreme weather such as flooding and drought.

This network was by Professor Guangtao Fu at the University of Exeter, supported by Professor Roy Kalawsky at Loughborough University and Dr Monica Rivas Casado at Cranfield University.

Find out more on the main BRIM website or within our bespoke project website.


CADDIES Framework

The CADDIES framework is divided into multiple components / softwares: 

  • An application programming interface (API) to create cellular automata rules and associated application(s).
  • A set of different hardware platform implementations for each CA type, allow for fast deployment of rules to highly parallel hardware, including (Linux and Windows variants of):
    • Simple serial implementations.
    • Shared memory model parallel implementations on modern CPU's, using OpenMP.
    • General Purpose Graphics Processing Unit (GPGPU) highly parallel implementations, using OpenCL.
  • A set of different CA type implementations, including:
    • Regular square grids
      • Von Neumann Neighbourhood.
      • Moore Neighbourhood.
  • Regular Hexagonal grids (under development).
    • Rapid and accurate reduced-complexity 2D urban surface flow model(s).
    • Basic application, and CA rules - Open Source
    • Advanced application and CA rules - under license agreement
      • Application
      • Dynamic Link Library (DLL) API flooding interface (under development)
  • Rapid and accurate reduced-complexity 1D sewer flow model(s) (under development).
  • Unified 1D sewer and 2D surface flow model(s) (under development). 


As part of the CADDIES Framework, a two-dimensional cellular automata based model, called Weighted Cellular Automata 2D (WCA2D), and its respective application, called caflood, has been developed. The aim of this model and application is to achieve fast flood modelling for large-scale problems using modern hardware with parallel capabilties.

The WCA2D model adopts simple transition rules rather than the complex Shallow Water Equations to simulate overland flow. Furthermore, the complexity of these transition rules are further streamlined by a weight-based system that reduces the computating cost of using physically based equations and complex mathematical operations. The WCA2D is a diffusive-like model that ignores the inertia terms and conservation of momentum and it improves the methodology used in the previous CADDIES CA2D model (Ghimire et al., 2013).

The WCA2D model has been designed to work with various general grids, (e.g., rectangular, hexagonal or triangular grid) with different neighbourhood types (e.g., the five cells of the von-Neumann (VN) neighbourhood or the nine cells of the Moore neighbourhood). The major features of this new model are: 

  1. The ratios of water transferred from the central cell to the downstream neighbour cells (intercellular-volume) are calculated using a minimalistic and quick weight-based system.
  2. The volume of water transferred between the central cell and the neighbour cells is limited by a single equation, which comprises a simplified Manning’s formula and the critical flow condition.
  3. The model can be implemented easily in parallel computing environments due to features of the cellular automata technique. 

Find out more about our CADDIES downloads and view our publications on our dedicated webpage.

Water company costs for flooding caused by surcharging sewers and burst water mains can be significant when including claims, insurance costs and outcome delivery incentives penalties. For example, one burst 20 inch water main in London’s Tooley Street in 2008 alone caused losses of “tens of millions” of pounds for Thames Water (Evening Standard, 2013). These events can also be devastating to customers as they pose substantial social and economic effects that may continue over extended periods of time. Understanding the potential risk of flooding from buried assets is essential in estimating risk exposure. However, the provision of a timely, accurate and comprehensive assessment of flood risk is challenging as it requires complex modelling and analysis methodologies. ICT solutions are required that allow risk of flooding from pipes to be assessed on a network wide scale. Following on from the development of a generic two-dimensional (2D) flood modelling tool (CADDIES) through funding from EPSRC, the researchers from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems have teamed up with ICS Consulting to customise and integrate the tool within ICS own Asset Data Management System (ADMS) to enable fast and accurate modelling and assessment of flood risk.

The two existing best practice approaches involve either one-dimensional (1D) or 2D modelling. However, with either there is an unacceptable trade-off between the speed and accuracy when multiple runs are required. The 1D models are fast but suffer from oversimplification of flood flows which are assumed to be unidirectional. However, actual flooding results in divergent/recombining paths and ponding, which limits the 1D model’s capability to accurately and realistically predict flood depths, velocities and extents, all key indicators of risk to life and property. While being more accurate, the existing 2D models are computationally expensive, requiring hours or even days to complete each simulation.

Using the new concept of “Cellular Automata”, University of Exeter researchers developed a fully dynamic 2D model (CADDIES). This takes advantage of the local interaction between water levels surrounding each square grid cell, the huge amount of freely available high-resolution LiDAR data and the power of Graphical Processing Units (GPU). As a result, the ICS-implemented system produces complex dynamically 2D flood extents and ponding areas at the very fastest speeds, while maintaining the highest accuracy levels. It closely matches the output of industry standard commercial software and is between 5-20 times faster than conventional 2D methods.

There are multiple benefits from the developed CADDIES methodology as implemented within ICS asset planning and management suite of tools, ADMS:

  • Better understanding of sources and consequences of flood risk from their own assets will allow water service companies (WSC) to prioritise their investment in flood risk mitigation making better use of limited financial resources;
  • Greatly enhanced run times of up to 20 times better than that available with existing commercial 2D models allows use in real-time company operations responding to actual flooding events;
  • Consistent network wide risk analysis results produced by ADMS, using a single setup and tens of thousands of analyses in one batch run, as opposed to running each analysis individually and by a number of analysts;
  • Reduced harm to local economies from flood events inundating residential and commercial properties, and interconnected multi-utility infrastructure through targeted investment;
  • Scientifically tested and proven flood modelling with automated time step optimisation to achieve better accuracy than 1D models and much faster runs than 2D models;
  • The use of structured square grid, which is readily available from LiDAR data and automatically used by CADDIES, reducing time-consuming processing associated with unstructured grids and avoiding a large amount of human intervention.

Water distribution and wastewater systems in the UK consist of over 700,000 km of water distribution and sewer pipes, which represents a large risk exposure from flooding caused by sewer surcharging or water main failures. There is also an emerging abundance of freely available high resolution (one meter or less) LiDAR data due to the advent of remote sensing, which enables wider applications of detailed flood risk modelling and analysis. Considering the above asset base and the need to better assess the consequence of flooding in urban areas, the potential for improving the risk assessment processes and reduce harmful consequences of flooding is enormous.

As an example, ICS have already performed flood risk analysis for a major WSC, over 20,000 water pipe simulated failure locations were considered. Further work on 120,000 pipe failure locations for the same WSC in under way.

ICS offer the tool as a fully integrated software package, either for client use or as a service, to allow wider adoption of the methodology and the associated tools.

Until recently flooding from sewer and water distribution networks has mainly been considered reactively, after the flooding has occurred. Flooding from water mains or sewers is often an unpleasant and distressing event for customers, with potential to waste precious water resources, cause pollution and harm people and the environment. Infrastructure and businesses can also be affected by flooding, further escalating the impact on local communities.

The ADMS/CADDIES methodology helps mitigate the threat of flooding to people, their property and infrastructure by providing fast and accurate data for decision makers. These significant enhancements over current technologies provide accurate information to water companies allowing them to make better investment and operational decisions. By improving the intelligence about flooding risks both quickly and accurately, the result will be better management of natural water resources and an enhanced ability to mitigate flooding impacts on society and the environment. At a time of increased pressures from severe flooding due to factors like climate change these new technologies provide water companies with leading edge tools for understanding and managing flood risks and impacts.

Modern high-performance computing used by ADMS/CADDIES minimises energy usage and increases carbon efficiency of the hardware used to run extensive flood risk analyses.

This project aimed to support water management in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) through interdisciplinary collaboration across sectors, local communities, institutions and academia.


Managing water resources in the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) is challenging because of the basin's uniqueness in scale, it's biophysical complexity and the dynamics of its institutional and socio-economic characteristics. India's green revolution, initiated in the mid-1960s to achieve food security for its growing population, resulted in large-scale environmental change from natural land covers and rainfed cropland to intensively managed agricultural systems. Unmanaged and inefficient water abstraction for irrigation, combined with poorly controlled waste management practices, has severely degraded the quantity and quality of regional water resources and now threatens ecosystem services and human health. Water management in the IGP is challenged by the imbalance between water demand and seasonal availability related the monsoon cycle as well as difficulties in coordinated planning of surface and groundwater resources. A lack of cross-sectorial cooperation leads to competition for scarce water resources, while perverse government subsidies for irrigation water and electricity potentially lead to wastage of resources. Lastly, the basin’s groundwater resources that are, to a large extent, a primary source for irrigation and rural and urban water supply, are independently managed by multiple agencies.

Considering continued economic development and population growth, as well as the impacts of climate change, it is clear that achieving water security in India and especially the IGP is a growing challenge that requires interdisciplinary collaboration across sectors, local communities, institutions and academia. CHANSE, which is funded through the Newton-Bhabha Fund, a joint initiative between UK NERC and Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences, brings together researchers from leading UK and Indian institutions, in partnership with international and local non-governmental organisations, to support water management in the IGP.

Aim and objectives

The main aim of CHANSE is to improve the quantification of the dominant interactions and feedbacks between human activities and the hydrometeorological system of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The objectives are:

  • To estimate the surface and groundwater availability in the IGP under current and future climates and anthropogenic activities
  • To improve understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics and feedbacks in the coupled human-natural system of the IGP basin
  • To develop regional predictions of seasonal and subseasonal monsoon rainfall, decadal climate predictions, and regional weather forecast for flood forecasting that will improve water management strategies
  • To identify thresholds in water requirements and desirable surface and groundwater resources to govern sustainable management of coupled water, food and ecological systems in the IGP

CWS contribution

Within CHANSE, the CWS team led by Professor Slobodan Djordjevic and Professor Dragan Savic, are leading the development of an integrated assessment model for the Indo-Gangetic Plain following the System Dynamics approach. This work package will integrate data and models developed within CHANSE in order to perform trend predictions under a range of climate and development scenarios. Ultimately, this tool will enable better informed decision making towards sustainable water management of coupled human and natural systems in the IGP.

In addition, CWS researchers will collaborate with climate experts at IIT Bombay to develop basin to sub-basin scale predictions of seasonal and sub-seasonal monsoon rainfall in the IGP using regional climate models with improved representations of regional characteristics and land surface feedbacks. In particular, CWS will focus on the development of a flood forecasting system for disaster mitigation and water management under weather extremes.

Project partners

  • Imperial College London, UK
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  • University of Exeter, UK
  • Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India
  • Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology Pune, India
  • British Geological Survey, UK
  • Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, India
  • Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, India
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

For further information, see the Centre for Climate Change Research, Indian Institute of Tropical Meterology webpage.

The overall aim of CORFU was to enable European and Asian partners to learn from each other through joint investigation, development, implementation and dissemination of short to medium term strategies that will enable more scientifically sound management of the consequences of urban flooding in the future.

CORFU was a four-year project involving 15 European and Asian institutions, funded by a grant from the European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme. Professor Slobodan Djordjevic of the University of Exeter was Project Coordinator. Professor David Butler was also involved in CORFU as a member of the Executive Committee. Dr. Michael Hammond and Dr. Albert Chen were involved full time as postdoctoral researchers managing one of the CORFU work packages, and Anne Douglas-Crawford was Project Administrator.

For further information, please visit the CORFU website

This project aims to develop and demonstrate an effective emergency flood planning and management approach based on the synergetic use of on-site, measured information collected by UAS’s with mathematical models for flood modelling, evacuation route planning and dynamic emergency resource allocation.

This project focuses on using UASs to collect and collate pertinent information about an unfolding flooding disaster. This will be combined with accelerated flood inundation models to generate detailed evacuation plans, and to predict the nature and progress of the flooding to improve allocation of emergency resources, build community flood resilience, save lives and reduce economic damage.

For more information visit their website.

ESPRIT aimed to establish strong collaborations between the UK and Chinese partners to advance our scientific understanding of urban flooding and thus enhance flood resilience.

Through engagement with five Chinese cities that have suffered severe flooding in the past few years, the consortium created a framework of systems modelling to develop innovative solutions for strengthening cities’ resilience against flooding. The framework evaluated the effectiveness of interventions to support decision makers in strategic planning and adaptation measures.

ESPIRT worked closely with Chinese local governments and Torbay Council, UK as the project’s case studies, so as to address the common existing challenges in urban flood risk management. Various adaptation strategies were tested to compare their suitability in different weather and urban conditions. Local governments from both countries also shared their experiences and evaluated the solutions. As a result, a guidance for embedding flood resilience analysis in urban planning was established so as to safeguard future cities from the impact of flooding.

The main objectives of EU-CIRCLE were to define a holistic climate resilience infrastructure model and its constitutional components to develop the technical solution that will implement it and to extensively validate it in real world test cases.


It is presently acknowledged and scientifically proven than climate related hazards have the potential to substantially affect the lifespan and effectiveness or even destroy of European Critical Infrastructures (CI), particularly the energy, transportation sectors, buildings, marine and water management infrastructure with devastating impacts in EU appraising the social and economic losses. The main strategic objective of EU-CIRCLE is to move towards infrastructure network(s) that is resilient to today’s natural hazards and prepared for the future changing climate. Furthermore, modern infrastructures are inherently interconnected and interdependent systems ; thus extreme events are liable to lead to ‘cascade failures’.

EU-CIRCLE’s scope is to derive an innovative framework for supporting the interconnected European Infrastructure’s resilience to climate pressures, supported by an end-to-end modelling environment where new analyses can be added anywhere along the analysis workflow and multiple scientific disciplines can work together to understand interdependencies, validate results, and present findings in a unified manner providing an efficient “Best of Breeds” solution of integrating into a holisti resilience model existing modelling tools and data in a standardised fashion.

It, will be open & accessible to all interested parties in the infrastructure resilience business and having a confirmed interest in creating customized and innovative solutions. It will be complemented with a webbased portal.The design principles, offering transparency and greater flexibility, will allow potential users to introduce fully tailored solutions and infrastructure data, by defining and implementing customised impact assessment models, and use climate / weather data on demand.


  • From response & prevention to resilience
  • Balancing Priorities
  • CIRP, Advanced Modelling and Simulation Environment for Assessing Climate Impacts to Infrastructures
  • SimICI a unique reference test-bed
  • Innovative local impact assessments
  • Reduce uncertainties
  • Contribute to Climate impact assessment standards
  • Scientific Support to policies and CI stakeholders
  • EU-CIRCLE as a vehicle to Industry Growth

Link to EU Policies

EU-CIRCLE lies on the intersection of several European policies and initiatives spanning across different domains. These include:

The EU Internal Security Strategy, and more importantly the 5th Objective to Increase Europe’s resilience to crises and disasters. This calls for an all-hazards approach to threat and risk assessment: guidelines for disaster management will be drawn up, national approaches will be developed, cross-sectoral overviews of possible risks will be established together with overviews of current threats, an initiative on health security will be developed, and a risk management policy will be established.

The EU Climate Adaptation Strategy (SWD (2013) 299), acknowledges that climate related hazards will have a defining impact on the status and operational capacity of European critical infrastructures, and society as a whole. More specifically, the following points have been identified:

  • Asset deterioration and reduced life expectancy
  • Increases in Operational Expenditure (OPEX) and the need for additional Capital Expenditure (CAPEX)
  • Loss of income
  • Increased risks of environmental damage and litigation
  • Reputation damage
  • Changes in market demand for goods and services
  • Increased insurance costs or lack of insurance availability.

The European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (Directive 2008/114/EC), on the identification and designation of European Critical Infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection. Identified Critical infrastructures which, if disrupted or destroyed, would have a serious impact on health, safety, security or economic well-being of citizens and/or effective functioning of government in Member States. The Directive requested an all-hazards risk framework treating natural hazards and terrorism alike, setting the principles upon which the Member States must ensure that an operator security plan (OSP) or an equivalent measure for each designated CI is devised.

The Flooding from Intense Rainfall programme was a NERC-led five-year programme which contributed to our understanding of the risks associated with flooding from high-intensity convective storms.

The FFIR was led by the University of Reading and included three work packages, each with a specific goal:

WP1 Project FRANC:

Forecasting Rainfall exploiting new data Assimilation techniques and Novel observations of Convection

Goal: To improve short-range forecasts of severe weather via the reduction of initial condition errors

WP2 Project SINATRA:

Susceptibility of catchments to INTense RAinfall and flooding

Goal: To advance scientific understanding of the processes determining the probability, incidence, and impacts of FFIR


Towards END-to End flood forecasting and a tool for ReaL-time catchment susceptibility'

Goal: To demonstrate end-to-end forecasting of flooding from intense rainfall, improve the effectiveness of flood risk management and underpin flood forecasting and risk management through the gathering of high quality scientific and community sourced data.

The CWS team worked on both the SINATRA and TENDERLY projects to develop an advanced inundation model that adopts high resolution rainfall measurement and forecast information for near real-time modelling and forecasting, to improve scientific understanding and risk management of FFIR.

This project aimed to develop a flexible approach for water system planning and management that takes into account uncertainty and allows decision adjustments to be made as new information, new funds or new opportunities become available.

The overall aim of the HOWS project was to develop a new approach for designing and managing improved, near-optimal and engineering-intuitive water systems by incorporating visual analytics, heuristic optimisation and feedback-informed learning.


It is widely acknowledged that the water and wastewater infrastructure assets, which communities rely upon for health, economy and environmental sustainability, are severely underfunded on a global scale. For example, a funding gap of nearly $55 billion has been identified by the US EPA (ASCE, 2011). In England and Wales, the total estimated capital value of water utility assets is £254.8 billion (Ofwat, 2015), but between 2010 and 2015 only £12.9 billion was allocated for maintaining and replacing assets. Combined with the drive to reduce customers' bills, there will be even more pressure on water companies to find ways to bridge the gap between the available and required finances. As a result of this it is not surprising that optimisation methods have been extensively researched and applied in this area (Maier et al., 2014).

The inability of those methods to include into optimisation 'unquantifiable' or difficult to quantify, yet important considerations, such as user subjective domain knowledge, has contributed to the limited adoption of optimisation in the water industry. Many cognitive and computational challenges accompany the design, planning and management involving complex engineered systems. Water industry infrastructure assets (i.e., water distribution and wastewater networks) are examples of systems that pose severe difficulties to completely automated optimisation methods due to their size, conceptual and computational complexity, non-linear behaviour and often discrete/combinatorial nature. These difficulties have first been articulated by Goulter (1992), who primarily attributed the lack of application of optimisation in water distribution network (WDN) design to the absence of suitable professional software. Although such software is now widely available (e.g., InfoWorks, WaterGems, EPANET, etc.), the lack of user under-standing of capabilities, assumptions and limitations still restricts the use of optimisation by practicing engineers (Walski, 2001).

Automatic methods that require a purely quantitative mathematical representation do not leverage human expertise and can only find solutions that are optimal with regard to an invariably over-simplified problem formulation. The focus of the past research in this area has almost exclusively been on algorithmic issues. However, this approach neglects many important human-computer interaction issues that must be addressed to provide practitioners with engineering-intuitive, practical solutions to optimisation problems. This project will develop new understanding of how engineering design, planning and management of complex water systems can be improved by creating a visual analytics optimisation approach that will integrate human expertise (through 'human in the loop' interactive optimisation), IT infrastructure (cloud/parallel computing) and state-of-the-art optimisation techniques to develop highly optimal, engineering intuitive solutions for the water industry.

The new approach will be extensively tested on problems provided by the UK water industry and will involve practicing engineers and experts in this important problem domain.

For further information, please visit the HOWS website. 

This project aimed to address the issue of efficient water and energy demand resources management for the Chilean mining industry through modelling of water supply system and optimisation of its operation.

The main aim of the project was to advance knowledge about water demand in mining industry in order to develop cost-effective methodologies and tools to manage water demand by reducing water wastage, energy demand and impact on environment. This was achieved by development of an integrated water management framework to demonstrate evidence based potential of reducing impact on water in the whole water cycle (starting from seawater source to mining processes and finally when the used water is released back to environment) of mining industry.

iWIDGET’s focus is a more integrated approach to water resources management and the project will contribute to delivering a sustainable, low-carbon society, helping progress towards the Europe 2020 targets on Climate and Energy. This approach will be developed by researching, developing, demonstrating and evaluating a fully integrated ICT-based system of techniques and technologies that will encourage and enable householders and water suppliers to understand and manage down their demand and minimise wastage in the supply chain.

The Project is being led by Prof. Dragan Savić, Founder and Co-director of the Centre for Water Systems at the University of Exeter.

The partnership assembled to deliver the iWIDGET project is a combination of all the key players in the field, leading ICT companies, business leaders, technology developers, standardisation organisations, water companies and top scientists in the field of water management, information and systems analysis and the social sciences. See the iWIDGET web site for more details.

Together the WIDGET consortium brings to the table a clear understanding of the market, the technological state-of–the-art with respect to hardware and software, new research and development in data mining, analytics, decision support, scenario modelling, data management, standards interfaces, visualisation, water conservation modelling and social simulation. The project will also obtain input from householders through two case studies and input from the broader water industry through its Advisory Panel.

For further information, please see the iWIDGET website.

Building sustainable local nexuses of food, energy and water: from smart engineering to shared prosperity.

This project focused on the combination of these two emerging trends by assessing the opportunities and challenges of localising food manufacturing. Since RDM focuses on manufacturing, the focus has been on processed food products using bread and tomato paste as examples. Apart from the interconnectedness of the physical resources food, energy and water, the way food supply systems are organised also has a large impact on socio-economic factors. In addition, policies can influence both the physical and socio-economic aspects of food supply systems. Therefore, within the LNN project a multilayer approach has been adopted in which food supply systems are evaluated from the physical, socio-economic and policy perspectives.

Funded by the EPSRC, Professor Slobodan Djordjevic is leading the RAMB project, which is aimed at studying hydrodynamics and wear on bridges.

This is called ‘scour’ and happens when water courses are blocked by debris. Scour has been identified as a major cause of bridge failure during flooding. The project will investigate the hydrodynamic effects of floating debris in the watercourse during floods, and devise a systematic methodology to assess risks of debris blockage on masonry bridges and on bridge piers. The outcomes and developed methodology for risk assessment will be built into existing guidance from CIRIA. This is expected to enable optimal maintenance of bridges at risk to debris blockage and thereby improve resilience of the transport network and the rate of post-flood recovery.

RAMB stands for Risk Assessment of Masonry Bridges Under Flood Conditions: Hydrodynamic Effects of Debris Blockage and Scour.

Find out more about this project via our designated webpage.

RESCCUE aimed to improve urban resilience: the capability of cities to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard threats with minimum damage.

Facing climate change in urban areas

The RESCCUE project aims to help urban areas around the world to become more resilient to climate change.

More precisely, RESCCUE will bring this objective to practice by providing innovative models and tools to improve the ability of cities to withstand and recover quickly from multiple shocks and stresses and maintain continuity of services.

An end-users – city managers and urban service operators – oriented toolkit will have the capability to be deployed to different types of cities, with different climate change pressures.

A multisectorial appoach, a key advantage of RESCCUE

Cities, being complexes of interdependent systems, cannot be understood by sectorial and disciplinary approaches alone1. In this sense, RESCCUE goes beyond conventional urban resilience approaches delivering a forward looking, multi-scale, multisectorial and multi-hazard methodology. In order to interconnect the several sectorial models, the project will take advantage of the existent HAZUR® tool. The HAZUR® approach is based on a method and software (as a service) to help city decision makers and urban resilience professionals make fully informed and structured choices to make their cities more resilient analysing the interdependencies between different city services, monitoring the city and simulating cascade effects in case of impacts that may affect the city.

Based on this holistic approach, RESCCUE will analyse an interconnectedness of different urban systems, taking as starting point the water sector. This sector has been highlighted due to the importance of water- related risks in the correct functioning of a city: droughts or heavy rains can produce critical impacts on strategic urban services such as water supply, solid waste, telecommunication, energy supply, transport, etc.

1Walloth C, Gurr JM, Schmidt JA Eds.(2014) - Understanding Complex Urban Systems: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Modeling. Springer International Publishing Switzerland

3 cities, 3 different challenges

The models and tools will be validated in three different cities, carefully selected by their representativeness of the European diversity in terms of climate type and city characteristics: Barcelona, Lisbon and Bristol.

The aim of having three cities as the validation platform and first application of RESCCUE’s results will guarantee that the final product is complete, qualified and will ensure its maximum replicability when the project ends.

For further information, please visit the RESCCUE website

The five-year Fellowship, awarded to Professor David Butler, worth around £1.5 million, will fund a project which aims to develop a new approach to water management in UK cities.

Safe & SuRe will draw from multi-disciplinary collaboration with leading academics inside and outside the field.

The vision of this work is to develop a system for water management which is sustainable and resilient. A comprehensive, quantitative evaluation framework will be developed to test in detail what options or strategies can contribute towards a Safe and SuRe water future, focusing on the challenges of water scarcity, urban flooding and river pollution.


  1. To develop, test and refine the Safe & SuRe water vision in the context of British cities
  2. To investigate, specify and develop a quantitative option assessment framework
  3. To evaluate threat mitigation and adaptation options and strategies and explore potentially conflicting goals and key interdependencies
  4. To develop a strategy for implementation incorporating transitioning approaches, preparedness for extremes, water users’ responses and the neglected role of town planning
  5. To engage widely with academic leaders in urban water management and other fields
  6. To collaborate with stakeholders and champion the vision and key findings into practice.

The key focus is on how existing urban water systems can be better used, managed, regulated, planned, operated, rehabilitated, retrofitted and redesigned to cope with the coming ‘perfect storm’.  

David Butler is Professor of Water Engineering at the University of Exeter with some 30 years of experience in the water industry. He jointly leads the Centre for Water Systems, which has around 30 researchers working mainly in the areas of urban water, system optimisation and hydroinformatics. Working with David on the Safe & SuRe project are colleagues Dr Raziyeh Farmani, Dr Guangtao Fu and Dr Sarah Ward.

SARASWATI aims to assess the sustainability and potential of technologies already existing in India for wastewater treatment, reclamation and reuse, as well as newly piloted EU technologies.

In order to assess the potential of new EU technologies to solve the real water challenges in India, it is crucial to have detailed knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies that already exist in India. SARASWATI will further investigate in detail the reasons that have led to either successful or unsuccessful technology implementations. Based on a thorough understanding of the performance of existing technologies and the reasons that led to success or failure, SARASWATI will be able to develop sound recommendations on how the sustainability and potential of the studied technologies can be (further) increased to make them more suitable to solve the water challenges in India.

The key objectives of the full project include:

  • to provide a comprehensive documentation of existing wastewater treatment, reclamation and reuse technologies in India;
  • to pilot proven EU technologies that have the potential to solve real water challenges in India;
  • to conduct an independent and integrated assessment of the existing technologies in India;
  • to suggest strategies for measures to further improve the sustainability of both EU and non-EU technologies for solving water challenges in India and to assess the overall potential of all of the technologies;
  • to provide tools to facilitate replication and large-scale deployment of the technologies with the best potential to cope with the targeted real life water problems in India; and
  • to synthesise the research results and to achieve effective dissemination and take-up in practice, and the mainstreaming of results.

CWS contribution to SARASWATI

Led by Professor Fayyaz Ali Memon, CWS team is mainly responsible for developing a multi-objective based decision support system and to propose optimal technology combinations (wastewater treatment terrains) keeping in view contexts for a range of regions in India. CWS will also develop a database on treatment technologies and their associated attributes and sustainability evaluation.

For more information about the project, please see the SARASWATI fact sheet.

Project partners

  • University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-R), India
  • Centre for Water Systems University of Exeter, United Kingdom
  • Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières, France
  • Fundacion Centro de las Nuevas Tecnologias del Agua, Spain
  • Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Técnicas de Gipuzkoa, Spain
  • Centre for Environmental Management and Decision Support (CEMDS),Vienna (Austria) and Mumbai (India)
  • A3i, France
  • Simbiente - Engenharia e Gestão Ambiental, Portugal
  • Hydrok UK Ltd., United Kingdom
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp), West Bengal
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), Tamil Nadu
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, Maharasthra
  • National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
  • National Institute for Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, Maharasthra
  • Doshion Veolia Water Solutions (DVWS), Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  • Madras School of Economics (MSE), Chennai, Tamil Nadu

SARASWATI is a European Union supported FP7 SME targeted Collaborative Project involving 10 European partners and 8 research organisations from India.

SIM4NEXUS searched for new scientific evidence on sustainable and integrated management of resources (water, land, energy and food) in Europe and elsewhere, and adopted the Nexus concept in testing pathways for a resource-efficient and low-carbon Europe.

SIM4NEXUS increased the understanding of how water management, food production and consumption, energy supply and land use policies are linked together, and how they relate to climate action. The research activities offered solid ground on the benefits of using a Nexus approach, primarily to exploit and create synergies between policies and avoid conflicts between policies. European policies for water-land-energy-food-climate sectors reckon with trade-offs in other sectors. However, opportunities for synergies are less explored and there is no institutionalised procedure for a comprehensive Nexus assessment of new policies. New integrating themes (e.g., circular and low-carbon economy related to resource efficiency and planetary boundaries) can stimulate a Nexus approach.

Our results and products contribute to the legacy of SIM4NEXUS, including knowledge and products to be used for training (i.e., universities, policy, business and civil society organisations). Commercial applications and training courses are planned to ensure follow-up actions. A combined for-profit and non-profit exploitation strategy is developed to ensure the largest project impact, among others to contribute to policy support and future assessments, including those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Side-events were organised during COP23 (Bonn, November 2017) and COP24 (Katowice, December 2018) to present progress on the Nexus and climate action.

SIM4NEXUS will seek to partner with international fora in Europe and beyond (e.g. Nexus Project Cluster), to team up for increased and more impactful communication and dissemination of the Nexus concept.

Understanding the Nexus

SIM4NEXUS has a strong research dimension. SIM4NEXUS advanced in the understanding and assessment of the Nexus in various con- texts. A framework for the assessment of the Nexus is developed to facilitate future research assessing the impacts of interventions from

a Nexus perspective. Moreover, interlinkages between water, land, food, energy and climate are now made operational, identifying both the most influential and vulnerable resources. The degrees of interlinkages are defined, including direct and indirect pathways from one Nexus component to another. The Greek case study for example, proves the food sector is the one with the most influence on other Nexus dimen- sions, while water is the most affected and vulnerable resource (Laspidou et al., 2019).

Policy Analysis

Agriculture and Food are key sectors to increase the sustainability of natural resource use.

Climate change, climate change mitigation, and adaptation put pressure on agriculture and food security. At the same time, the agro-food chain can offer solutions for these problems, for example, by replacing animal with vegetable proteins in the diet and increasing resource efficiency in the agro-food chain.

European Common Agricultural Policy can support the transition to more resource-efficient agriculture, e.g., by encouraging farmers to grow less water-demanding or non-irrigated crops, to use technologies for precision irrigation and to reduce emissions of nutrients and pesticides. To protect and restore the soil, water, biodiversity, ecosystems and the landscape, Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) and Greening measures should be stricter and better maintained, and direct payment should be linked to public services instead of agricultural land area.

Successful Nexus policy has many dimensions and is multi-scale. It concerns the whole policy cycle and depends on political will, mindset, a common vision, knowledge management and careful organisation of the process, which is complex and uncertain. Pilots and scenario analyses are helpful, and monitoring of progress and results is vital, as well as collaboration between researchers, stakeholders and policymakers from the start to end of the process. Long-term engagement and financing must be part of the deal, as no sector or sectoral institution feels responsible for the Nexus between sectors. Thematic approaches stimulate a Nexus approach, such as the European ‘From Farm to Fork’ and ‘Circular Economy’ initiatives.

The following policy briefs have been published:

  • Coherence in EU policy on water, land, energy, food and climate: Climate change adaptation policies (2017)
  • Policy coherence of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) within the Nexus between water, energy, land, food and climate depends on policy implementation (2019)
  • Implementation of EU Water Policies may benefit from synergies within the nexus between water, energy, land, food and climate (2019)
  • Eight Policy Coherence Recommendation to the European Green Deal (2020)
  • Landscape restoration to mitigate and adapt to climate change in Central and Eastern Europe (2020)

Thematic Models and Integration

System Dynamics Modelling (SDM) is our methodology of integration, including the modelling of multiple feedback and interaction among resources in the Nexus. SDM dates back from the 1960s. Used for studying feedback problems in industrial processes, it aims to understand how a system behaves and responds to incentives and changes. It proved to be a strong innovative methodology to test the Nexus concept.

The project builds on well known and scientifically established existing models, each to simulate different themes of the Nexus, such as Capri. E3ME, IMAGE-GLOBIO, MAGNET, MagPIE, OSeMOSYS and SWIM.

System Dynamics Modelling is used, integrating public domain data and metadata for decision and policy making.

Serious Game

SIM4NEXUS has developed a Serious Game. The Serious Game is a computer game that aids learning about the Nexus by helping users to understand and explore the interactions between water, energy, land and food resources management under a climate change context, divides the problem into manageable interventions, and allows participants to learn by doing. The ultimate goal of game development is to create a fun and interactive capacity-building tool to be used in research, educational settings and management.

The SIM4NEXUS Serious Game provides impressive user experience and state of the art technology to allow users to learn about the Nexus concepts while playing. To that end, the game relies on four main elements: the Graphic User Interface, the Knowledge Elicitation Engine, the Game Logic and the Nexus repositories.

Case studies & stakeholder engagement

Methodologies and tools to integrate the Nexus components have been tested with real-life challenges in 12 case studies at regional, national, European and global scales. The SIM4NEXUS Partners worked in close collaboration with relevant stakeholders to:

  • Specify the Nexus challenges they face
  • Apply the tools developed by SIM4NEXUS
  • Investigate the applicability and relevance of these tools for supporting decisions and raising awareness
  • Develop effective policy adaptation and implementation that supports a resource-efficient Europe.
  • The science-policy participatory and iterative process established has successfully led to policy recommendations.

An amazing wealth of data has been collected, both from local sources and thematic models, and connected through the specific System Dynamic Models. Policy interventions have been tested through the Serious Game and best possible combinations towards Nexus-compliance have been identified.

Enabling the co-ordinated planning, design and operation of closely coupled urban water systems necessary to achieve transformative change in urban flood risk and water management.

Stormwater is frequently considered a hazard leading to a focus on extreme events at one end of the hydrological spectrum which can cause catastrophic flooding, property damage and potentially loss of life. As we enter a more uncertain climate the need to retain and utilise stormwater as a vital water resource comes more sharply into focus. WP2 (led by the Exeter team) examines these options and how they interact with the urban system both in the short and long term, and the benefits that can be secured both directly and indirectly.

For more information visit the urban flood resilience website.

The overall objective of the Water4India project was to optimise and implement a set of technological alternatives for water supply in India.

The key objectives include:

  • Identify the main vulnerable areas suffering from water scarcity taking into account different factors such as current and future water availability, supply from centralized or decentralized sources, and qualitative and quantitative requirements of communities in the light of available sources and their quality.
  • Assess and quantify currently applied technologies to produce drinking water at a small scale level. Its integration with different solutions to address water shortage will be considered.
  • Adapt and develop a set of solutions based on technological components for water treatment on a small scale according to the end-users needs in the identified areas. These technologies will include:
    • Ultrafiltration with optimized energy demand
    • Filtration based on microfibers
    • Desalinization technologies such as reverse osmosis
    • UV disinfection
    • Membrane distillation
    • Adsorption using conventional and novel low-cost, locally available materials
  • Assess and quantify existing technologies for water quality monitoring to evaluate the quality of raw and treated water, and also the composition of wastewater. Special attention will be given to pathogens, studying the quality of water by state-of-the-art methods such as Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment within the framework of Water Cycle Safety Plans based on good-house keeping.
  • Develop a Decision Support System which integrates multi-criteria evaluation of technological alternatives for obtaining drinking water of the appropriate quality in each socio-economic situation, together with its management and sustainability assessment. This DSS will allow stakeholders and authorities to compare and select the best components to meet environment, economic and social aspects.
  • Demonstrate the selected technologies in two pilot sites with different geological, hydrological and technical situations.
  • Propose best practice guidelines for the end-users, especially when small scale technologies are chosen.

CWS contribution to WATER4India

Led by Prof. Fayyaz Ali Memon, CWS team were primarily responsible for developing two tools:

  • A user friendly tool to reduce consumption at household level through the selection of water efficient technologies keeping in view a range of sustainability indicators and the Indian context
  • A high level decision support systems to propose a range of water treatment technology terrains and develop their multi criteria based evaluation with specific reference to application potential in developing countries.

This was a 3 year project supported by the European Union under the FP7 SME targeted Collaborative Project Call. The project team included nearly 20 partners from European Union member states and India.

Project partners

  • SOLINTEL M&P, Spain
  • University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
  • Centre for Water Systems, University of Exeter, UK
  • RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  • KWR Water, Netherland
  • Cranfield University, UK
  • Adin Holdings, Israel
  • AMIAD, Israel
  • Solarspring, Germany
  • Vertech Group, France
  • Proinso, Spain
  • University of Technology, Sidney, Australia

This project aimed to engage an audience of 70% girls and women with water issues and the contribution of engineering to solving them.

Through engaging 3 different schools in deprived areas of Taunton in discussing, designing and delivering sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and alternative water supplies (AWS), this project aimed to engage an audience of 70% girls and women with water issues and the contribution of engineering to solving them. The purpose of this is to increase the awareness of pressures on the water-cycle, interest of female students from low-income backgrounds in choosing engineering-related subjects, and foster supportive attitudes in adults to encourage girls to show interest in engineering.