University of Edinburgh Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Norwich Research Park Featured PhD Programmes
Birkbeck, University of London Featured PhD Programmes
University of East Anglia Featured PhD Programmes

Towards sustainable surface water ecosystems in India: Predicting the fate, transport and effects of urban wastewater pollutants in rivers (CENTA2-SGGE5-WHEL)

Project Description

Urban areas are a major source of water pollution in developing countries where a significant (but often unknown) fraction of urban wastewater is discharged with little or no treatment. Urban wastewater contains a range of synthetic organic compounds (e.g. pharmaceuticals, home and personal care products) which can result in major ecological impacts. Understanding the sources, transport and transformation of pollutants and their impact on receiving ecosystems is crucial for effective water resource management and the reduction of chemical risks to people and the environment.

In this project, we will improve our understanding of pollutant behaviour in rivers under direct (untreated) discharge scenarios and develop a model of waste-water derived pollutant exposure and ecotoxicological effects in surface waters within and beyond urban areas. The model will act as an extended hypothesis which will be calibrated and tested via field investigations in Kerala, India. The impact of organic pollutants from urban waste water on surface water quality will be evaluated using a combination of existing water quality data and new monitoring of concentrations and fluxes of marker compounds intended to be representative of particular uses (e.g. personal care products, laundry product ingredients or pharmaceuticals) and chemical properties (e.g. hydrophobicity, degradability and toxic mode of action).

The in-channel fate of organic pollutants will depend on physico-chemical properties and compound degradability as well as environmental factors like temperature, pH, suspended solids concentration, dissolved organic carbon concentration and the hydraulics of the receiving system. We hypothesise that biodegradation will be more rapid in shallow streams than in deep rivers because the size of the competent microbial biomass in the water column is low compared with that in biofilms attached to the wetted perimeter of the channel. This means that degradation will depend on contact time with the fixed biofilm.

Entry Requirements:

UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Available for UK and EU applicants only.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility:

How to Apply:

Please follow refer to the How to Apply section at and use the Geography Apply button to submit your PhD application.

Upload your CENTA Studentship Form in the proposal section of the application form.

In the funding section of the application please indicate you wish to be considered for NERC CENTA Studentship.

Under the proposal section please provide the name of the supervisor and project title/project code you want to apply for.

Funding Notes

This project is one of a number of fully funded studentships available to the best UK and EU candidates available as part of the NERC DTP CENTA consortium.

For more details of the CENTA consortium please see the CENTA website: View Website.

Applicants must meet requirements for both academic qualifications and residential eligibility: View Website

The studentship includes a 3.5 year tuition fee waiver at UK/EU rates

An annual tax free stipend (For 2019/20 this is currently £15,009)

Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £8,000.


Finnegan, C., van Egmond, R., Price, O. and Whelan, M.J. (2009) ‘Continuous-flow laboratory simulation of stream water quality changes downstream of an untreated waste water discharge’, Water Research, 43, pp. 1993-2001.

Fox, K.K., Holt, M., Daniel, M., Buckland, H., Guymer, I. (2000) ‘Removal of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate from a small Yorkshire stream’, Science of the Total Environment, 251, pp. 265-275.
Kunkel, U., and Radke, M. (2011) ‘Reactive Tracer Test To Evaluate the Fate of Pharmaceuticals in Rivers’, Environmental Science & Technology, 45, pp. 6296–6302.

Li, Z., Sobek, A. and Radke, M. (2015) ‘Flume Experiments to Investigate the Environmental Fate of Pharmaceuticals and Their Transformation Products in Streams’, Environmental Science & Technology, 49, pp. 6009-6017.

McAvoy, D.C. Masscheleyn, P., Peng, C., Morrall, S.W., Casilla, A.B, Lim, J.M.U., Gregorio, E.G. (2003) ‘Risk Assessment approach for untreated wastewater using the QUAL2E water quality model’, Chemosphere, 52, pp. 55-66.

Whelan, M.J., van Egmond, R., Guymer, I., Lacoursiere, J.O. , Vought, L.M.B., Finnegan, C., Fox, K.K., Sparham, C., O’Connor, S., Vaughan, M. and Pearson, J.M (2007) ‘The Behaviour of Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulphonate Under Direct Discharge Conditions in Vientiane, Lao PDR’, Water Research, 41, pp. 4730-4740.

Related Subjects

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here
* required field
Send a copy to me for my own records.

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2019
All rights reserved.