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Selection and management of groundwater arsenic remediation approaches for improved water security in northern India

   Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr L Richards, Prof D Polya, Prof Anne-marrie Glenny, Prof Majid Sedighi  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This project will be based at The University of Manchester with a 12-month stay at University of Melbourne.

Project description:


Globally, the contamination of groundwater from naturally-occurring arsenic is a major public health threat that impacts the health and livelihoods of millions of people, particularly in South/Southeast Asia. In India, groundwater arsenic is a major problem, particularly in the shallow, reducing aquifers of the Gangetic Basin, where groundwater reliance is increasingly high. Despite the prevalence of a number of remediation strategies, effective and sustainable implementation of these remains very challenging for a number of technical and non-technical reasons. Further, rapidly developing urban areas (such as Patna, Bihar) create unique challenges, such as high groundwater pumping rates (which may impact the hydrogeochemical controls on arsenic mobilisation), the presence of potential competing water quality risks, such as emerging organic contaminants, and highly variable socio-economic conditions, all of which may vary greatly on the local or regional scale. There is a clear need for improved decision support tools for the selection and management of arsenic remediation strategies, particularly in this context.


The aim of this PhD project is to contribute to the development and validation of a robust and effective toolkit for the selection and/or management of groundwater arsenic remediation strategies in arsenic-impacted areas of the Gangetic Basin in northern India (such as Patna). Example research questions include:

1.   How can remediation selection be optimized for the geochemical (including groundwater composition, remediation targets) and socioeconomic settings typical to this region?

2.   What are the best selection criteria for determining the optimal strategy/strategies for the removal of groundwater arsenic in this context?

3.   How can selection strategies for arsenic remediation be adapted to other types of contaminants of contrasting geochemical behaviour (such as uranium, boron, emerging contaminants) and which may also be present in groundwater sources used for drinking?

Students are also highly encouraged to suggest their own related research questions. Detailed project design is flexible according to candidate interests and will involve one or more aspect of theoretical, field, laboratory and modelling approaches. Innovative and interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. Students will be strongly encouraged to develop effective pathways to impact of the research arising from the project.

Training opportunities:

Numerous researcher training and development opportunities are available and encouraged. There will be multiple opportunities for collaboration, presenting research and (co-)authoring scientific publications. The student will develop an excellent skillset – including scientific and analytical/technical skills - as well as key professional competencies like international collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, project management, self-management and teamwork.

Candidate skills:

Successful candidates will have a strong background (Masters / BSc) in environmental/chemical/geological sciences, environmental/chemical engineering or similar. Strong candidates will be highly motivated, independent, hard-working and curious, with a strong interest in research. Demonstrable experience in aspects of data analysis, fieldwork, laboratory work, problem solving, critical thinking and scientific writing is advantageous. Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English are essential. Previous research experience is highly desirable.

See also:

Funding Notes

Manchester-Melbourne Dual award includes tuition fee and stipend.


Polya & Charlet (2009) Nat Geos; Richards et al (2020) IJERPH; Richards et al (2021) Env Pol; Polya & Richards (2017) UNESCAP Tech Mon; Arora et al (2009) J Environ Geochem Health; Meenakshi & Maheshwari (2006) Asian J Water Environ Pollut; Arora & Maheshwari (2007) Patent no.942/DEL/2007; Gu, de Silva, Reichman (2020) IJERPH; Mikkonen et al (2019) STOTEN; Reeves et al (2016) Fresh Mar Res; Rahman…Reichman et al (2014) J Agric Food Chem

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Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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