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Characterising and containing catchment contaminants – Reducing risk at drinking water reservoirs

  • Full or part time

    Dr J Ebdon
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project is important as it will, for the first time, systematically optimise a range of tools for the identification and prediction of nutrient inputs into drinking water reservoirs, assessing a range of catchment mitigation strategies. The successful candidate will have an opportunity to work with the project team to generate new knowledge about human and non-human pollution sources within the R. Ouse and R. Cuckmere catchments and how these impact on drinking water reservoirs (Ardingly and Arlington, respectively). The supervisory/advisory team for this project comprises internationally respected research leaders and water industry experts with a proven track record for collaboration in catchment management, innovation and monitoring.

This research will enable the successful candidate to:
1. determine the temporal variation in contaminant source dynamics under different flow regimes
2. determine the spatial variation in contaminant sources
3. determine the effectiveness and suitability of different mitigation measures within each catchment and sub-catchment by working with stakeholders (landholders, regulators, community groups, water and wastewater suppliers) as part of catchment partnership scheme.

As such, this collaborative initiative not only has the potential to protect human health (recreational users and drinking water consumers), but also to reduce environmental degradation of surface and groundwater’s across south-east England. This research will be transferable to the national and international level and is likely to generate considerable interest within the scientific fields of water management, water quality and risk mitigation, as well as the water industry.

An important aspect of the collaboration is that while the project focuses primarily on algal contamination of drinking water reservoirs, it will result in the production of a series of management protocols which it is hoped will provide a ‘blueprint’ for future emerging contaminants such as Benzo (a) pyrene, Cypermethrin, Hexabromocyclododecane, Tributyltin, Triclosan, Cadmium (total), Nickel (dissolved), Zinc (dissolved) of burgeoning human health and environmental concern. As such, the project will help ensure that future contaminants can be managed and mitigated effectively and efficiently at the catchment level. This would represent a significant improvement in our ability to manage and contain catchment contaminants as signifies a shift from a reactive management approach to one which is much more proactive.

We therefore seek a PhD candidate to lead and shape this research project under the guidance and direction of the pre-established supervisory/advisory team. The candidate will undertake a blend of desk-based, catchment-based research (fieldwork) and is likely to divide their time between the University of Brighton and South East Water (during years 1–3). The ideal candidate will have experience in two or more of the following areas:
- water quality monitoring
- catchment management
- environmental microbiology
- catchment modelling/mapping
- environmental science.

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded equally by South East Water and the University of Brighton.

For UK/EU students the 3 year studentship consists of full UK tuition fees, and a Doctoral Stipend at UKRI rates. Additional funding (£2,500 p.a.) is available to cover costs such as research consumables, training, conferences and travel. Additional reagent costs of £10,000 are also covered by South East Water. South East Water will also be offering additional in-kind support to run in tandem with the studentship including the identification, collection and sharing of additional sampling and catchment data (eg through use of SE Water catchment managers).

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