Olivia Cooke


Project: Assessment and mitigation of storm runoff loads from an informal settlement (slum)

Supervisors:  Dr Lee Bryant and Dr Thomas Kjeldsen

One of the biggest global health problems today is that posed by urban conditions, most significantly in developing countries, where there is a proliferation of informal settlements due to rapid and continued migration from rural to urban areas. Within informal settlements the lack of infrastructure including sanitation and sewage facilities can generate serious problems for health and the environment. It is necessary to understand the processes and characteristics of runoff to mitigate health risks from storm runoff. The aim of this PhD is to develop a scientific theory which determines how stormwater runoff, quality and quantity, is influenced by human and environmental factors. This project will focus research in Enkanini, one of the primary slums near Cape Town, South Africa. This research will evaluate variations in quantity and quality between catchments and different storm events in a South African slum with the aim of developing successful long-term mitigation strategies. This research will be performed in collaboration between the University of Bath and its international partners Stellenbosch University and Emory University.

Olivia is a PhD Student on the WISE CDT based at the University of Bath in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. She is part of both the Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience (WEIR) research group and the Water Innovation and Research Centre (WIRC).

Olivia studied Geography under an Open Scholarship at Aberystwyth University and gained a First Class (Honours) BSc. Her dissertation developed a risk map of malaria risk in The Gambia, and is the source of her interest in waterborne diseases and natural hazards. During her third year, Olivia studied for a term at UNIS in Svalbard in the Arctic. Her post-graduate study was a Master of Research in The Science of Natural Hazards at the University of Bristol. Fieldwork included studying the natural hazards in Guatemala, followed by research in Ecuador for her dissertation on volcano risk at Cotopaxi Volcano. The data collected during this research formed the basis of a paper published by her supervisors Dr Ryerson Christie and Dr Joachim Gottsmann (University of Bristol).

Since graduating from Bristol she has gained further experience by working on the Apolline Project, a multi-disciplinary research project in Naples, looking at volcanic deposits and four months spent as a Research Assistant at the Centre of Exchange and Research in Volcanology at the University of Colima, Mexico undertaking data collection, analysis and report writing on volcanoes in the region.

Find out more about Olivia’s fieldwork at Stellenbosch University’s Water Institute in South Africa.

Olivia’s Research Poster

Keywords: Water quality and quantity, pathogen transport, mitigation, storm-water runoff, informal settlement