Research Themes and Projects


Water Informatics is a highly active research area in which computational techniques are applied to a variety of complex problems within various domains including water and wastewater distribution system operation, hydrologic applications, water re-use and recycling, water quality optimisation and the production of decision support tools for the water industry.

Some of the techniques that students of the CDT might seek to employ as part of their research include:

  • numerical modelling (data driven, physically based, mechanistic and including uncertainty estimation, uncertainty and sensitivity analysis, data assimilation, etc.)
  • artificial intelligence and soft computing (tools and interfaces, machine learning, data mining, artificial neural networks, global optimisation, population and evolution-based algorithms, metaheuristics, fuzzy logic etc.)
  • high performance computing (parallel computing, multi-scalar distributed computing, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) computing, etc.)
  • emerging technologies (cloud computing, smart grids, software as a service, embedded devices, Web of Things, etc.).


The twenty-first century will be a time of unprecedented change with many global pressures impacting on society and the natural environment. Sustainable management of water resources and water infrastructure will play a key role in supporting the quality of life in the global community. Water research encompasses a large number of science and engineering topics and disciplines for which our Centre partners are recognised internationally:

  • the physical system (flow paths for water through the physical environment of the earth, including: the atmosphere, oceans, coasts, estuaries, rivers, lakes, soils, aquifers, etc.)
  • the biogeochemical system (chemical constituents of water and transformations through macronutrient cycles, contaminants and other chemicals, such as pathogens, pesticides, endocrine disruptors, etc.)
  • the ecological system (life cycles of organisms that are dependent on their habitats, vegetation and the impact of hydrological variation and regimes on the viability of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems)
  • the human/urban system (the engineered environment and infrastructure, water use, water resources management, pollution control, river and marine renewable energy, etc.).


The challenges that we face in working towards a sustainable water supply for all, environmental protection, and an economically feasible water utility infrastructure require, not only analysis of water informatics, and sound water science and engineering approaches, but also a connection with areas including policy, consumer behaviour, new economic models and ecosystem services.

The WISE CDT consortium can offer research projects in the following areas:

  • statistical analysis (statistical data mining, geo-statistical analysis);
  • social sciences (equity, resilience, justice, ethics, behaviour);
  • economics(financial dimensions, water value, trade-offs and synergies);
  • policy science (social instruments, new markets, water rights);
  • business models for water utilities & markets based on digital services; and
  • complexity science (dynamical systems theory, water and climate, reliability, efficiency).

Examples of past and current student projects include:


University of Bath

For further information contact Dr Tom Arnot
  • Mathematical modelling of disease propagation in river systems
  • Mathematical modelling of interactions between ground water and waste water in drainage pipe networks.
  • Aeration and mixing in AS waste water treatment
  • River water quality modelling and sensing via impedance microsensors for detection of microbial water contamination
  • Modelling and optimisation of waste water treatment systems
  • Drinking water benchmarking on costs, water quality, environmental impact and customer satisfaction
  • Water quality modelling in sewer systems
  • Today’s Hydraulic Societies: The Power of Discourse
  • An Equilibrium Model of Beach Profile Change in the Swash Zone – Beach Erosion and Recovery
  • Use of documentary evidence in flood frequency estimation
  • The role of WWTPs in the distribution of microplastics in UK lakes and rivers
  • Waste water treatment plants as point sources of (antibiotic resistant) waterborne pathogens in coastal and inland UK bathing waters
  • Heat recovery from sewer systems
  • Experimental and Computational Studies of Mixing in Bioreactors
  • Groundwater flow simulations
  • Quantitative proteomics in molecular diagnostics of public health – a new paradigm in wastewater-based epidemiology
  • Novel environmental metabolomics approaches for simultaneous profiling of fate and effects of medicinal products in the aqueous environment and biota
  • Acoustic imaging of algae: from the open sea to water supplies
  • Cost/value modelling and assessing the impact of PPP/Performance Based Contracting within Water Utilities in Asia
  • Valuing health risks associated with water infrastructure failures
  • Embodied water in the UK – economic analysis of adaptation under climate change futures
  • Optimizing destratification systems for water quality maintenance and enhancement in water supply reservoirs


University of Bristol

For further information contact Professor Thorsten Wagener

  • National Scale hydrology and water quality modelling under uncertainty
  • Evaluation of hydrological connectivity for different catchment typologies
  • Impact of preferential flow paths of groundwater recharge in a changing world
  • Diagnostic sensitivity analysis of physically-based hydrological models
  • Improved Understanding and Estimation of Flood Magnitudes in the UK
  • The Impact of Changes in Snowfall on the Hydrological Cycle
  • Modelling Amazon floodplain flow
  • Linking flood inundation and land surface modelling
  • Developing regional scale hydrodynamic models
  • Evaluating global scale approaches to flood hazard and risk estimation
  • Real time flood forecasting aided by remote sensing and numerical weather prediction
  • Climate change impact assessment using big data and  artificial intelligence tools
  • Advances in numerical analysis of precipitation remote sensing with polarimetric radar
  • Propagation of uncertainty in hydrological predictions using probabilistic rainfall forecasts
  • Investigating long-term water quality, carbon storage and the impact of land-use change in the Thames Basin
  • Cosmic-Ray Neutron Sensor for understanding land-surface interaction processes

Cardiff University

For further information contact Professor Roger Falconer

  • Development of a large-eddy simulation-based near-field model to predict tidal turbine wakes
  • Quantification of hydrodynamic loads on tidal turbine blades and support structures due to wave action
  • Large-eddy simulation of colmation processes in gravel beds
  • Bubble plume dynamics in stratified waters
  • Modelling Hydro-environmental Impacts of a Severn Barrage for Different Turbine Configurations and Operations
  • Modelling Inundation Extent and Hazard Risk for Extreme Flood Events
  • Modelling Hydrodynamic and Epidemiological Processes from Cloud to Coast
  • Modelling Hydrodynamic and Disinfection Processes in Water Treatment Contact Tanks
  • Ensemble modelling of waves and storm surge under extreme events
  • Modelling surface water and groundwater interaction
  • Development of a Decision Support System (DSS) for coastal erosion and flooding


University of Exeter 

For further information contact Professor Dragan Savic  

  • Superfast 2D Flood simulation modelling using Cellular Automata.
  • Analysis and application of Machine Intelligence methods for early warning systems in hydrology and environment.
  • Multi- and Many-objective optimization of water and wastewater systems.
  • Real-time management of urban water systems involving smart monitoring, telemetered systems and sensor networks.
  • Integrated assessment modelling of the water-food-energy system (the Nexus).
  • Real-time discolouration management in distribution systems
  • Methods for Decision Making under Uncertainty with Applications to Water Resources Management
  • Near Real-Time Detection and Approximate Location of Pipe Bursts and Other Events in Water Distribution Systems
  • The use of Real Options and Multi-Objective Optimisation in Flood Risk Management
  • Modelling the Performance of an Integrated Urban Wastewater System under Uncertain Future Conditions
  • Bayesian modelling of recurrent pipe failures in urban water systems using non-homogeneous Poisson processes with latent structure
  • Developing Strategies for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wastewater Treatment
  • Catchment based and real-time based consenting in integrated urban wastewater systems.