Skip to main content

Water Quality and Environment

Water quality and environment

Water quality and environment

Water quality and environment

Our research addresses the provision of safe drinking water to large urban areas. Please see below for some of our research projects related to water quality and environment.

Current Projects

ARSINOE is financed by the European Commission with a total budget of 15 million euros and is coordinated by the University of Thessaly, Greece. It brings together 41 partners from 15 countries and intends to be a game-changer for shaping pathways to resilience by delivering regional innovation packages that build an ecosystem to develop and implement innovative climate change adaptation measures and solutions across Europe.

Acknowledging that climate change is complex and strongly connected to other global challenges, such as food security, water scarcity, biodiversity depletion and environmental degradation, it is insufficient to use traditional approaches to innovation that focus on one aspect of the problem.

Systems Innovation Approach (SIA) addresses the developing complexity, interdependencies and interconnectedness of contemporary societies and economies, covering the functions of the cross-sectoral system as a whole and the respective variety of stakeholders. The Climate Innovation Window (CIW) refers to the European Union’s innovations marketplace for climate adaptation technologies.

Towards this direction, in the next four years the ARSINOE project will develop a methodological framework for the combination of SIA with the CIW to create an ecosystem under a three-tier approach: (a) integration of multi-faceted technological, digital, business, governance and environmental aspects with social innovation for the development of adaptation pathways to climate change, so as to meet EU Green Deal targets for specific regions; (b) linkage with CIW to form innovation packages by matching innovators with end-users and regions; (c) fostering the ecosystem sustainability and growth with cross-fertilization and replication across scales, at European level and beyond, using appropriate business models and exploitation-outreach actions.

Nine widely diverse regions across Europe will demonstrate the ARSINOE three-tier approach as a proof-of-concept with regards to its applicability, replicability, potential and efficacy. These are: (i) Athens metropolitan area (EL), (ii) Mediterranean ports including Port of Piraeus (EL), Limassol (CY) and Valencia (ES), (iii) Main river in Germany (DE), (iv) transboundary Ochrid/Prespa lakes (MK, AL, EL), (v) Canary Islands (ES), (vi) transboundary Black Sea including Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey (RO, BG and TR), (vii) Southern Denmark (DK), (viii) Torbay and Devon county (UK) and (ix) the Mediterranean island Sardinia (IT).

ENRICH will bring together expertise and experience from UK and Thailand in the areas of climate variability and climate change, floods and drought modelling and water resources management.

The Mun river basin in Northeast Thailand is a prime example of the area impacted by hydro-meteorological hazards. Its specific vulnerability lies in the fact that its upstream parts are more prone to droughts, whereby the downstream part of the basin is a flood risk zone. About 80 to 90% of rice cultivation area in the Mun river basin is rain-fed. Rainfall in the study area is highly erratic both in space and time even though the annual average amount is near to the norm of Thailand. This unevenness has serious effects on rice production, living conditions and income of farmers who are the main population in the region.

The ultimate aim of this project is to establish a strong collaboration and exchange of knowledge between the University of Exeter and AIT, to develop innovative integrated solutions to address the pressing problem of hydro-meteorological extremes and adaptation strategies and measures in the Mun river basin.

The proposed project will address the following research questions:

  • What are the main environmental drivers affecting the meteorological and climate variability and change in Northeast of Thailand?
  • What are possible hydro-meteorological scenarios and extremes in future in the study area? What is the level of confidence that the projected changes can be attributed to environmental and climate changes?
  • What are the expected changes in hydro-meteorological hazards and risks due to future climatic extremes?
  • What are the possible and plausible adaptation strategies and measures to improve climate resilience in the study basin?
  • In line with the recent policy and planning of the Royal Irrigation Department and Department of Water Resources of Thailand, this study will investigate drought hazard due to future climate change, and its impacts on vulnerability and risk in the study area. Furthermore, analysis on current adaptive measures and recommendation for further improvement to cope with future climate change will be produced.

The proposed two and a half year research programme will be realized through four integrated Work Packages (WPs):

  • WP1: Land use changes
  • WP2: Climate variability and climate change
  • WP3: Hydrometeorological extremes
  • WP4: Adaptation strategies based on the synthesis of results
  • The ENRICH team will work closely with the Thai Department of Water Resources and the Royal Irrigation Department, from the project inception workshop, through data acquisition and analysis and finally during the dissemination phase, so that the outputs can be taken up.

Two public participation meetings will be organised in the study area with local stakeholders - farmers, industries, local line agencies at provincial/district levels etc. - to understand the hydro-meteorological hazards related issues (at the start of the project), and discuss adaptation measures (towards the end of the project while developing the adaptation strategies and measures) with them.

Whilst ENRICH is a stand-alone initiative that can be completed independently, from an early stage it will seek cooperation with other projects funded within this programme to identify the potential for synergies through sharing data and expertise.

This three-year FAME project is designed to investigate emerging contaminants in the major Indian rivers and wastewater treatment works, as well as creating novel and affordable treatment solutions for urban and rural India. The project has been devised to support the Indian Prime Minister’s flagship initiative – The Clean Ganga Mission.

Led by Professor Fayyaz Memon, the FAME team includes key academics Professors David Butler and Shaowei Zhang from the University of Exeter, Dr Sarah Bell from UCL, Professor Ligy Philip (IIT-Madras) and Prof Absar Kazmi and Dr Bhanu Prakash Vellanki (IIT Roorkee). The industry steering board for the project is chaired by Dr Hans Jensen – CEO UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR).

The project has 15 industrial partners including the Environment Agency, Southwest Water, Public Health England, Indian Central Pollution Control Board and wastewater treatment systems manufacturers based in the two countries.

Find out more on the dedicated website.

This project will scope the flood risk of the Mun River Basin and analyse different types of drought and the yearly succession of wet and dry periods in current and future climates. The project will extend the scope of the ongoing ENRICH project (that is focussed on drought) to include flooding as the other hydro-meteorological extreme critical for South-East Asia and beyond. Findings from this project will address the classical but exacerbated problem of “too much” or “too little” water in the context of climate change. The key output will be the framework for integrated management of hydro-meteorological extremes that will be fundamental for future investigations of strategies for adaptation to drought and flood disasters.

This six-month project will build upon the successful partnership that the teams from University of Exeter and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) in Bangkok have had on ENRICH since 2018. Professors Slobodan Djordjevic, Mat Collins and Albert Chen from CEMPS and Professors Babel, Shrestha and Loc from AIT will work with a team of six postgraduate researchers at the two institutions. The project is supported by experts from relevant departments of Thai Government and scientific advisors from Denmark and the Netherlands.

The aim of this Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is to develop and embed a toolset utilising Bayesian Optimisation and CFD techniques in order to enable optimisation of product function and manufacturability, and accelerate the product development process.

This is the latest part of a long term collaboration between the University of Exeter (Prof Gavin Tabor, Prof Jonathan Fieldsend) and Hydro International Ltd, developing Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Machine Learning techniques for SUDs product design. Hydro International provides products and services in the water treatment and drainage sectors including wastewater, storm water and industrial water treatment products, and flow controls for urban drainage systems. The objective of the project is to use Bayesian Optimisation to optimise the separation of particulate waste from water using a cyclone separator very similar in function to a Dyson vacuum cleaner, but for water rather than air. The aim is for the computer to "learn" better designs for the separator trays which are at the heart of the system, providing key new IP for the company as well as a design tool which can be applied to other products in their range.

The South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) is a collaborative initiative that will help deliver economic and community benefits to the South West, whilst also protecting and enhancing the area’s natural resources.

Funded by Natural Environment Research Council’s Regional Impact from Science of the Environment programme for 5 years, SWEEP will bring academic experts, businesses and policy makers together to solve some of the challenges involved in managing, utilising and improving the natural environment.

SWEEP is a collaboration of three research institutions: the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory – working together with a large group of highly engaged business, policy and community partners.

Recent Projects

The OVERCOME consortium consists of world-leading organisations that aim to develop a state-of-the-art research plan which integrates digital innovations in natural hazard and risk predictions, in order to develop intervention strategies for strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities against climate hazards and health impacts.

The partners from the UK, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe will contribute knowledge and skills in climate and meteorology, hydrology and water resources, flood forecasting, droughts, water quality, epidemiology and public health, smart technologies, data science, environmental science, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), risk communication, disaster management, social and policy sciences, and socio-economics.

The collaboration will combine multidisciplinary knowledge to develop a novel holistic framework to forecast the impact of floods/droughts and associated disease outbreaks. OVERCOME also has strong support from global experts and local major stakeholders. The external partners will steer research direction throughout the project, contribute their complementary knowledge, and engage the team with additional partners through their strong international networking.

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.

SWEEP 006 connects academics and industry to evaluate and implement the potential of regional scale sustainable drainage in South West England.

The South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) is a collaborative initiative that will help deliver economic and community benefits to the South West, whilst also protecting and enhancing the area’s natural resources.

SWEEP 006 (Sustainable Drainage) is a sub-award of the main SWEEP partnership. The objective of this sub-award is to connect academia and industry to evaluate and implement sustainable drainage at a regional scale in South West England.

The project achieves this aim through establishing academic-industry networks, delivering training, developing tools and supporting ongoing sustainable drainage projects with partners across the region.

Find out more on the dedicated 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

Past Projects

Bacti: is a project to develop a tool (or suite of complementary tools) to deliver rapid forecasting of bacterial concentration exceedance in tidal waters where these arise as a result of trigger events such as rainfall, wind direction, Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) operation, etc. It aims to facilitate meeting the requirements of European Commission Revised Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC)(rBWD). The project focuses on utilising machine-learning modelling tools that can also deliver acceptable levels of accuracy.  We also consider simple transferability so that it can be utilised widely at different bathing waters and shellfish waters.

The modelling tool will have potential applications in providing forecast water quality at bathing waters and shellfish waters to assist with water management actions, and active incident management.  Also it is intended as a tool to inform retrospective investigations into water quality non-compliance (in particular source apportionment at different bathing beaches).

Funding bodies: Environment Agency of England & Wales (SW Region) (CP27) and South West Water Plc

For more information see the BACTI poster

View all of our projects related to our CWS research.