Resilience of Britain’s water supplies in an uncertain future

Video of Prof Jim Hall’s 2017 Dugald Clerk lecture now online.

In February, Professor Jim Hall, Director of the Environmental Change Institute, had the honour of delivering the 2017 Dugald Clerk Lecture. This prestigious event is the Institution of Civil Engineers’ principle water lecture and forms part of the ICE’s current energy, resilience and climate change campaign which explores challenges these issues pose to society, and the role civil engineers play in finding solutions.

The ICE recently made a video of the lecture available to the general public. Those of you who missed the talk the first time around can replay the lecture via the ICE website.

Drawing from his broad experience as Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks at Environmental Change Institute, Professor Hall explores the “Resilience of Britain’s water supplies in an uncertain future” focusing on drought risk.

The talk highlights, some of the key challenges facing UK water resource management, touching upon drought risk in a changing climate and associated economic and environmental impact in the context of demographic change. The talk highlights the interdependencies and trade-offs within UK water resource management, suggesting possible steps towards increased resilience, including innovative decision-making approaches.

For further information about Professor Hall’s research visit the Environmental Change Institute website.

Oxford and Bahrain partner on desal research

Professor Nick Hankins begins a long-term research partnership with the University of Bahrain on low-energy water desalination.

Oxford University recently formalised a research partnership agreement with the University of Bahrain at a signing ceremony in the Kingdom.

The agreement, inked by Professor Nick Hankins of the University’s Department of Engineering Science, and Research Director of the Oxford Centre for Sustainable Water Engineering, will see the two parties pursue research in the area of low-energy osmotic technologies for seawater desalination.

It is hoped that the collaboration will result in high-efficiency solutions that will help reduce energy consumption for water desalination, both in the Gulf region, and the UK.

Professor Nick Hankins signs agreement with Professor Riyad Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Hankins  said:

“We at Oxford see this as a long term partnership that will lead to a regional centre for sustainability, with a real input from Oxford and real impact by solving critical regional and global issues”.

The partnership will begin with a £200,000, four-year project, funded by the University of Bahrain, with in-kind support from Oxford, to investigate ways to reduce the energy consumption associated with sea-water pretreatment.

“The energy consumption associated with established reverse osmosis technology is often up to four or five times the thermodynamic limit; a significant amount of this extra energy is used just to prepare seawater for the desalination process, and this represents a worthy goal for energy reduction,” said Professor Hankins.

The agreement is a result of a Science Collaboration Symposium organized last year in Bahrain by the British Council, in cooperation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and under the Gulf Science Innovation and Knowledge Economy Programme. This programme aims to create opportunities for joint collaborations between universities and research institutions in Bahrain and the UK. The Oxford partnership is one of the fruitful collaboration is emerge from the 2016 symposium, with the University of Aston signing an agreement to explore linking renewable energy to reverse osmosis desalination plants in the Kingdom.

Commenting on the the agreements, Professor Riyad Hamzah, President of the University of Bahrain said:

“The signing of these partnerships is only the beginning of the road, and we look forward to further cooperation, coordination and exploration [of] opportunities for joint research that contribute to finding solutions to the challenges our societies face in terms of water, energy and food.”


Identifying water quality risks and modelling intervention strategies in Dhaka

The Oxford-led REACH programme publishes its latest policy brief exploring river water quality in the northeastern portion of Bangladesh’s capital.

Water pollution is a serious problem in Dhaka’s Turag-Tongi-Balu River System. Here watercourses experience very high organic pollution loading, high levels of ammonia and waterborne pathogens; in the dry season, dissolved oxygen (DO) measures close to zero. Sources of pollution include industrial discharges, runoff from waste tips, and nutrients from agricultural runoff from the upper reaches of the river system.

Those who rely on the water for drinking, washing clothes, bathing and vegetable production are under constant threat. Local people suffer high levels of disease, skin infections and more serious illnesses.

Researchers from the Oxford-led REACH programme developed a mathematical dynamic flow and water quality model for the river system, using baseline survey data of water chemistry and pathogens in combination with rainfall data. The models are being used to assess hydrochemical processes in the river and also evaluate alternative strategies for policy and the management of the pollution issues.

For further details of the research and its recommendations, read the full policy brief here.

A version of this post originally appeared on the REACH website.

REACH Kenya meetings

The REACH consortium members converge on Kenya to review progress.

REACH is a seven-year global research programme (2015-2022) which aims to improve water security for the poor by delivering world-class science that transforms policy and practice. The programme is led by Oxford University and comprises a number of international partners.

On 3-5 April, members of the global REACH consortium gathered in Naivasha, Kenya to review progress and debate cross-cutting themes such as climate change, gender and water quality. Attendees included researchers, PhD student and staff from the four REACH countries (Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, UK), Catalyst Grant holders, members of the Global Advisory Panel, and UNICEF, IWA, and Rural Water Supply Network partners.

You can find out more about proceedings via this Storify post, which provides a summary of tweets over the three-day meeting.