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First WIRC Water Science and Engineering Conference



Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 July 2016


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The Edge, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK (location and maps)


We are delighted to invite you to our two-day conference to mark the launch of WIRC@Bath. It features internationally renowned speakers and will showcase our research capabilities. In addition to the technical sessions we have allowed plenty of time to network and discuss research around the poster sessions, as well as during the Conference Dinner in the Pump Room Restaurant at the Roman Baths.

Further information

Download our conference flyer or contact us at


Standard registration, including discounted rate for University of Bath staff and students, is open until 8th July 2016. 

Poster Awards

We welcome the submission of posters from all delegates. There will be three poster sessions during the conference, and the best three posters will receive awards at the closing ceremony. Please register your poster by 8th July 2016.

13 July 2016 itinerary

Time Description

Opening session

Introduction Jan Hofman, Director of WIRC, University of Bath
Welcome address Bernie Morley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Provost, University of Bath
'A successful 21st century water company: more of the same, or some new approaches?' Colin Skellett, Chief Executive, Wessex Water
'The UK Water Partnership: A new strategy to catalyse innovation by the UK water sector' Tony Rachwal, Director, The UK Water Partnership

Lunch and poster session


Water resources - Chairs: Alistair Hunt, Susan Johnson

'Climate risks and water security: how climate science can contribute to improved water resources management' Steven Wade, Principal Consultant and Head of Scientific Consultancy, Met Office
'Climate change and embedded water' Alistair Hunt, Lecturer in Environmental Economics, University of Bath
'Sustaining ecosystem services: the need to align socio- and techno-ecological innovation' Gideon Wolfaardt, Director, Stellenbosch University Water Institute, South Africa
15:00 'Water for humanitarian response - water sources for life' Paul Sherlock, Visiting Professor, University of Surrey/Deputy Chair of the Trustees, RedR UK
15:20 Panel discussion

Tea break


Water treatment - Chair: Tom Arnot, Jannis Wenk

16:00 'Ozonation for enhanced wastewater treatment: from kinetics to toxicological assessment' Urs von Gunten, Professor for Water Quality and Treatment, EPFL Lausanne/Director of the Water Competence Centre, EAWAG, Switzerland
16:20 'Greening the microbes in wastewater treatment - microalgae for phosphorous capture' Rod Scott, Head of Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath
16:40 'Waste water treatment and value recovery' Charles Banks, Professor, Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton
17:00 'Dissolved natural organic matter (DOM) in water treatment processes' Jannis Wenk, Lecturer in Water Science and Engineering, University of Bath
17:20 Panel discussion

End of programme


Conference dinner, Pump Room, Bath


14 July 2016 itinerary

Time Description

Resilient Cities - Chairs: Marcelle McManus, Linda Newnes

09:00 'Cities and Ecosystem Services' Marcelle McManus, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Energy, University of Bath
09:20 'How regulation has changed & how this supports innovative solutions' David Peacock, Investment Analyst, Wessex Water
09:40 'Transcending knowledge boundaries for a resilient water sector' Chrysoula Papacharalampou, Doctoral Researcher, University of Bath   
10:00 'Creating resilient citites: the role of the Dutch Water Authorities' Stefan Nijwening, Strategic Advisor, Waterboard Vechtstromen, the Netherlands 
Panel discussion

Coffee break


Water and public health - Chairs: Barbara Kasprzyk-Horden, Ana Lanham

11:00 'The potential of sewage analysis to inform on public health' Kevin Thomas, Research Director, Norwegian Institute for Water Research(NIVA), Norway
11:20 'The use of genome sequencing to manage the spread of bacterial pathogens in aquaculture' Ed Feil, Professor of Microbial Evolution, University of Bath
11:40 'Why should a water company be interested in public health?' Ruth Barden, Environment & Catchment Strategy Manager, Wessex Water
12:00 'Monitoring micropollutants in wastewaters and the environment: the catchment approach' Bruce Petrie, Research Officer in Chemistry, University of Bath
Panel discussion

Lunch presentation

'20 years of PPNW: ever-growing interest in the geo-sciences of inland waters' Alfred Johny Wüest, Head of Aquatic Physics group, EAWAG/Professor of Physics of Aquatic Systems, EPFL, Switzerland

Water, environment and infrastructure resilience - Chairs: Jun Zang, Thomas Kjeldsen

'Investigating common biogeochemical and hydrological threats to water security: collaborative research between WIRC and the University of Stellenbosch Water Institute' Lee Bryant, Lecturer in Water Engineering, University of Bath
14:20 'Resilience-based evaluation of urban drainage systems: The safe & suRe approach' David Butler, Professor of Water Engineering, University of Exeter
14:40 'Remote-sensing of coastal processes' Chris Blenkinsopp, Lecturer in Civil Engineering Hydraulics, University of Bath
15:00 'Addressing climate resilience and sustainability in dense urbanism through landscape: East Village, Stratford, London' Mike Wells, Director of Biodiversity by Design Ltd. 
15:20 Panel discussion

Tea break and poster session


Closing ceremony and poster awards

'Nanotechnology and water treatment: applications and emerging opportunities' Eugene Cloete, Vice-rector, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Poster awards Tom Arnot, Senior Lecturer, University of Bath
Next event Jan Hofman, Director of WIRC, University of Bath



Chris Blenkinsopp Chris Blenkinsopp

'Remote-sensing of coastal processes'

The coastal zone lies at the boundary between the earth and ocean and is home to a high proportion of the world’s population, diverse ecosystems and high value infrastructure. This zone is inherently dynamic, constantly being changed by the action of waves and wind. Improved understanding of waves and their interaction with the coast is essential to better understand the risks to coastal populations and infrastructure from coastal flooding and erosion. Yet, due to the energetic nature of the environment, data is difficult to obtain. This talk will discuss a range of remote-sensing methods used to obtain novel coastal field data and present recent insights into a range of sediment transport and hydrodynamic processes.

Lee Bryant Lee Bryant

'Investigating common biogeochemical and hydrological threats to water security: collaborative research between WIRC and the University of Stellenbosch Water Institute'

Two on-going research projects between WIRC and the University of Stellenbosch will be presented. The first project focuses on pipe blockages caused by the accumulation of cohesive material in piping networks, which is resulting in significant drinking water and food security problems globally. In many instances, manganese (Mn) is believed to be the primary factor in these accumulations. For example, UK drinking-water utilities have shown interest in resolving this issue due to pipe blockage in drinking-water pipelines. The South African Lower Blyde River irrigation system has similar issues with Mn-driven pipe blockage, causing substantial reduction in water supply to downstream produce farms. This project characterises these accumulations as a function of:

  1. Mn and oxygen concentrations in source water
  2. Mn-microbial interactions and biofilm formation

The second project assesses water-quality effects of stormwater runoff in Enkanini, an informal settlement near Stellenbosch, South Africa. Variations in rainfall and flooding are correlated to levels of nutrients, oxygen demand and pathogens in local water supplies during the wet seasons to identify faecally contaminated ‘risk areas'. Both of these projects are critically important to increasing sustainable water and food supplies on a global scale.

David ButlerDavid Butler

'Resilience-based evaluation of urban drainage systems: The safe & suRe approach'

The presentation includes an introduction to the Safe & SuRe framework, which formalises an approach to ensuring system sustainability and resilience (SuRe) and reliability (Safe). The framework underscores the role and place of many different kinds of intervention strategies in building reliability, resilience and sustainability. The framework has wide applicability but is applied here to evaluating and enhancing resilience in urban water systems. A new way of measuring whole-system resilience called Global Resilience Analysis (GRA) is introduced. This is based on analysing the (loss of) performance of the system under stressed conditions. Both functional and structural resilience are defined and analysed. A case study urban drainage system in Kampala, Uganda is described and characterised. GRA is used to analyse and compare the effectiveness of implementing a set of promising adaptation strategies. These include centralised storage, distributed storage, improved asset management and multifunctional rainwater harvesting systems.

Ed FielEd Feil

'The use of genome sequencing to manage the spread of bacterial pathogens in aquaculture'

The aquaculture sector has expanded rapidly worldwide and now accounts for a greater proportion of fin-fish and shell fish than the capture sector. Given the increasing nutritional (and economic) reliance on this sector, the development of sustainable aquaculture practices represents a significant challenge to global food security. One of the main challenges comes in the form of disease, predominantly by viruses and bacteria. Where vaccines are not available, these diseases are often controlled using large amounts of clinically relevant antibiotics, thus increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance and raising public health concerns. Currently, it is neither possible to identify and monitor outbreaks in real time, nor understand the conditions underpinning the emergence of new pathogens: how they spread from farm to farm, or the effect of "spillover" back into wild stocks. Recent advances in genome sequencing technology provide a means to address these questions, although up to now this approach has only been used for human or agricultural pathogens. I will describe the aims and some initial results from a BBSRC/NERC funded project, The project aims to implement this technology for the management of aquaculture disease.

Alistair Hunt Alistair Hunt

'Climate change and embedded water'

This talk reports on recent research on the role that water “embedded” in imports to the UK plays in the UK’s vulnerability to climate change, and how to reduce this. Commodities such as food and manufactured goods, particularly those that rely on land and water, are increasingly recognised as being sensitive to climate change on a global scale.  This suggests that the international dimension is critical when considering future supply susceptibilities of import-dependent countries like the UK. We estimate embodied water imported to the UK for 25 economically significant and climate sensitive sub-sectors. We then explore the current and future susceptibilities of these sub-sectors under climate change. In 2010, these products represented 31% of total UK imports by value ($), and 12.8 billion m3 of embodied water. By combining product-based water volume estimates with economic and climate model information, we show how the UK could be increasingly susceptible to loss of these water supplements in the future. To mitigate this susceptibility, international climate change adaptation and development funding may be targeted to the securing of supplies from existing exporting countries, or trade relations may be encouraged with potential new suppliers who are likely to be less resource constrained.

Dr Marcelle McManusMarcelle McManus

'Cities and ecosystem services'

Cities across the globe are dependent on the services the ecosystem provides to us. Ecosystems that function well are the foundation of human wellbeing and most economic activity because almost every resource that humankind uses relies on nature. The ecosystem and their related “ecosystem services” include the provision of physical resources, urban climate, greenspace and biodiversity, water and the assimilation of pollution and waste. These services have emerged as a policy priority in several countries and regions across the globe. Eco-design and eco investment in cities, buildings, and infrastructure to take account of ecosystem services are becoming more common but are still relatively unusual. With specific respect to water ecosystem, services can provide floor resilience, the availability of potable water and the provision of green spaces. This session opening talk will give a broad overview of resilient cities and the importance of ecosystem services. This will lead into the talks on policy regulation, global innovation, and interdisciplinary learning.

Stefan NijweningStefan Nijwening

'Creating resilient citites: the role of the Dutch Water Authorities'

The Dutch are renowned for their technical achievements in water management and flood protection. But they are also confronted with the impact of climate change and have set an ambitious agenda and programme to adapt. Although traditionally emphasis has been and still is on the prevention of floods, attention is shifting to address the consequences of excess water. Notably, by increasing the resilience of cities. A wide range of solutions, methods, approaches and policy interventions have been developed and are being in implemented. In this effort, the Dutch Water Authorities play a crucial role. In The Netherlands they are responsible for integrated water management in 22 river basins. To 1) adapt to climate change 2) serve water needs in the basin 3) improve water quality and 4) finance new programmes and projects, the Dutch water work closely with farmers, business, interest groups, knowledge institutes and other government authorities to achieve maximal results with the least cost to society. What are the type of problems the Dutch are facing due to climate change? What kind of solutions are they developing and implementing? What challenges remain? What is the role of the Dutch Water Authorities? And what can other countries learn from the Dutch Water Authorities? This session will try to provide answers to these questions.

Chrysoula PapacharalampouChrysoula Papacharalampou

'Transcending knowledge boundaries for a resilient water sector'

The importance of Natural Capital (i.e. the natural systems and their deriving ecosystem services) has been the focal point of recent policy instruments (UN, 2012) and has shaped regulatory changes in the UK water sector (Defra 2016, OFWAT 2015). Water companies need to become resilient to the challenging current urban and rural contexts. They need to reform their asset management practices to meet the new regulatory demands.

The talk explores how the synthesis of methods and tools from a spectrum of disciplines can serve as a mechanism to respond to the challenges faced by the water sector. This includes their asset management practices, environmental compliance, and economic planning.

Based on an industrial case study, a novel and transdisciplinary approach is demonstrated, which allows for the design and implementation of catchment-based asset management strategies and the assessment of their environmental impacts and whole-life value. The holistic and structured methodology introduced expands the scope of asset management so that catchments are modelled and managed as asset systems.

David PeacockDavid Peacock

'How regulation has changed & how this supports innovative solutions'

There were significant regulatory changes in how price controls were assessed in UK water companies in 2014.

The talk gives an overview of how price controls were assessed in 2014 (PR14) and how this changed since previous price controls. It gives an overview of cost assessment; in particular, how regulators removed the bias to deliver capital intensive solutions, and the new outcome delivery incentive structure to support innovative solutions.

It will then look at some of the challenges facing the water companies in the upcoming price review (PR19).  Specifically, the potential introduction of markets for water resources and sludge treatment and DEFRA’s recent resilience agenda.

Bruce Petrie Bruce Petrie

'Monitoring micropollutants in wastewaters and the environment: the catchment approach'

The presence of micropollutants (pharmaceuticals, personal care products and illicit drugs) in the environment has been given much attention over recent years. Our current study is investigating the presence and fate of micropollutants in wastewaters and the environment within a river catchment in South-West England. An integrated analytical approach of targeted (>200 compounds including metabolites) and non-targeted screening, enantio-selective analysis and solids analysis provides a holistic overview of micropollutant distribution and behaviour throughout the catchment. Key findings from the study such as the direct disposal of pharmaceutical drugs will be discussed.

Professor Rod ScottRod Scott

'Greening the microbes in wastewater treatment - microalgae for phosphorous capture'

Water utilities are under constant legislative pressure to reduce and re-capture the nutrients (in particular, phosphorus) in the effluents they release, whilst also reducing energy consumption. In the UK, over 11 bn litres of wastewater are treated daily. The European Union wastewater directive (EUWWD) dictates nutrient discharge limits in effluent WW, making nutrient recovery paramount for a sustainable treatment process.

Microalgae have long been reported as efficient in removing nutrients from wastewater effluents. I will describe an integrated approach that used bio-prospecting at local wastewater treatment works to obtain microalgae strains. These were then evaluated in real secondary effluent WW for nutrient removal and kinetic performance. A modified Monod mathematical model was developed that explains biomass growth and nutrient capture. The microalgae strains were also assessed for harvesting by gravity settling. The best performing strains were further evaluated under seasonal conditions (i.e. 4 UK seasons) in an environmental modelling photobioreactor. In a first scale-up in 500 L raceway ponds under semi-continuous conditions (up to 5 days hydraulic retention time) we consistently achieved over 80 % total phosphate capture.

Finally, a larger 18 m3 pilot-scale HRAP is under construction at a local WWTW in partnership with the Wessex Water to evaluate our best performing strain. Routes for biomass valorisation (AD, HTL, fertilizer) will be discussed briefly.

Paul SherlockPaul Sherlock

'Water for humanitarian response - water sources for life'

This talk will give a brief overview of the importance of water in an emergency. The world is experiencing an unprecedented number of emergencies. These include natural disasters (earthquakes, cyclones, droughts) as well as political violence and war (Syria, Yemen, Burundi).We have also recently seen health-related crises with Ebola in West Africa and the Zika virus in South and Central America.

These crises have created large numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in need of water. As the world becomes more urbanised, we see more crisis in cities such as Haiti and Katmandu.

Over the years, aid agencies and the UN have developed a range of equipment, techniques, software and processes to cope with the water and sanitation needs of increasing numbers of IDPs.

Yet, there are still a lot of questions to answer. The UN developed a cluster approach to coordinate all the inputs and agencies. This has been in place for ten years and is working well in the water sector. However, there are now questions being asked about whether this is the right way forward. Technology has put someone on the moon but, as yet, has not shown us how to solve our emergency water problems.​

Kevin Thomas Kevin Thomas

'The potential of sewage analysis to inform on public health'

Sewage contains the accumulated biomarkers of endogenous human metabolism that directly reflects the exposure and stressors placed upon all those in a contributing community. Quantitatively measuring these specific biomarkers in sewage collated from defined communities allows averaged patterns of health and illness to be evaluated for the assessment of community health. Thus far sewage-based epidemiology has been restricted to determining the level of community drug use. But there is also the clear potential to develop a range of innovative techniques as a solution to quantitatively assess patterns of factors related to health and illness within populations. We hypothesise that individual communities will show different patterns in the levels of various sewage biomarkers in comparison with other communities. This difference will be related to lifestyle, health, nutrition and environment within each community. Recent research to support this hypothesis, along with the key developments occurring in the field will be presented.

Urs Van Gunten Urs van Gunten

'Ozonation for enhanced wastewater treatment: from kinetics to toxicological assessment'

The presence of micropollutants in water resources and the urban water cycles from sources including agriculture, municipal wastewater and industry has raised concerns about the eco- and human toxicity of these compounds. The options for the reduction of the micropollutant load are manifold and range from source control (e.g. stricter regulations) to end of pipe solutions (wastewater and drinking water treatment). In Switzerland, municipal wastewater treatment plants are being upgraded with an additional polishing step, either by ozonation or by powdered activated carbon (PAC) to reduce the discharge of micropollutants to the aquatic environment. This talk will focus on ozonation. The efficiency of the transformation of micropollutants by ozone can be quantified by reaction kinetics. There is a huge database of second order rate constants for ozone reactions available in literature. Alternatively, unknown rate constants can be determined experimentally, by quantitative structure activity relationships or quantum chemical calculations. Ozonation rarely leads to a mineralisation of organic compounds, but transformation products are formed. A combination of advanced analytical techniques with knowledge on reaction mechanisms allows an assessment of these products. Finally, the effects of the transformation products have to be tested by various biological endpoints.

Steven Wade Steven Wade

'Climate risks and water security: how climate science can contribute to improved water resources management'

Steven will provide an overview of climate change impacts on the water sector and then examples from the UK and overseas of how climate science contributes to improved water management.


mike-wells Mike Wells

'Addressing climate resilience and sustainability in dense urbanism through landscape: East Village, Stratford, London'

Amongst the reasons why the 2012 Olympic Games were secured for the London it could be argued that high ambitions of sustainability and ecological restoration were particularly important factors in the decision of the selection board.

The Athletes' Village for the games was constructed on a former industrial site and the associated landscape created more or less from scratch to an immutable timetable. The village, now East Village, Stratford, provides us with a valuable measure of where we had reached in the UK three years ago in terms of the balance between theory in sustainable ecourbanism and deliverable practice.

From the outset the Athletes' Village was designed to be readily adapted into new housing and the landscape was almost completely a legacy design from the outset (unlike the Olympic Park). Water Sensitive Urban Design and design for climate change resilience were strong informants of the landscape design approach from built form to ground level. However, there were several other drivers of the landscape design including provision of biophilic benefits to residents and visitors and, focal to that, innovative and extensive provision for native biodiversity throughout the entire area. The presentation sets out the key design drivers, key limitations and the initial results of assessment of the performance of the new green and blue infrastructure.

Suggestions are proffered as to how, in the context of the 'compact city', design of green and blue infrastructure for resilience and provision of ecosystem services should develop henceforth in the UK.

Gideon Wolfaardt Gideon Wolfaardt

'Sustaining ecosystem services: the need to align socio- and techno-ecological innovation'

Recent years saw notable emphasis on sustainable resource utilisation, incorporating concepts such as techno-ecological synergy, social-ecological systems, resilience and biomimicry, all with much relevance to water supply and management. At the core of these notions is that we should learn from nature, imitate, as well as incorporate her ways in the design and implementation of our innovations to the extent that ecosystem services can be employed to help solve water pollution and sanitation problems. Unprecedented urbanisation and other factors such as increased reliance on chemicals that act as micro-pollutants and other forms of pollution, as well as societal changes contribute to the complexity of the challenge. Therefore, a fundamental understanding of the underlying chemical, physical and biotic mechanisms of ecosystem function is needed. Examples will be presented to demonstrate selected physical-chemical controls on microbiological behavior in water systems and linked to some of the consequences of uncontrolled urbanisation and insufficient infrastructure to make the case for inter/trans-disciplinary, inter-institutional and international collaboration.

Jannis WenkJannis Wenk

'Dissolved natural organic matter (DOM) in water treatment processes'

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is a heterogeneous complex mixture of organic molecules that is ubiquitously present at milligram concentrations in all natural waters. During oxidative water treatment DOM interacts with other natural water constituents, which may decrease process efficiency and lead to the formation of problematic by-products. DOM plays also an important role in various natural water purification processes that are currently exploited for low-energy treatment to polish water quality. This presentation includes a summary of my research on:

  1. the reactivity of DOM during oxidative water treatment processes
  2. results on trace contaminant removal and pathogen inactivation in a pilot open-water treatment wetland with emphasis on the reactivity of waste water derived DOM

Travel Information

The University of Bath is located at the southeast edge of Bath. Regular bus services (U1 and U18) link the city centre and the University. There are other travel methods.


Bath is a very popular city to visit and offers a wide range of accommodation. Visit Bath has a good selection of hotels and guest houses. We advise you to book early as July can be a very busy time.

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner will be held in the Pump Room, Bath, BA1 1LZ. The Pump Room Restaurant is one of the city’s most elegant places to enjoy stylish, modern-British cuisine. The Pump Room is a Grade I listed historic building. Construction of the main block, built of Bath stone, was started in 1789 by Thomas Baldwin.

The Water Innovation and Research Centre: WIRC@Bath provides a unique environment to engage globally in collaborative research on water science, engineering, policy and resource management.

WIRC@Bath brings virtually all of the water related research at the University of Bath under one umbrella, and can provide expertise and knowledge to deliver multi-disciplinary solutions to future water challenges. WIRC@Bath was founded as a collaboration with Wessex Water, and is now looking to broaden and develop relationships with other partners.