Better Water Quality for Wales Conference

Please join the conference on zoom at

You can view the schedule on Haia at

From 27th to 29th June 2023, Environment Platform Wales will be hosting a conference focusing on Better Water Quality for Wales.

The primary aims of the event will be to:

  • Understand who is currently involved in addressing water quality issues in Wales
  • Share knowledge about existing water quality research work, both in Wales and beyond
  • Consider the evidence gaps and how these might be fulfilled by the research community in Wales

The event will be run with online only sessions (Tuesday 27th) and hybrid sessions on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th June.

The main themes we will address in this conference are:

  • Eutrophication of Freshwaters
  • Emerging Contaminants
  • Inland Bathing Waters
  • Wastewater Management

DAY 1 – Online Presentations Taking Stock of the Political Landscape

DAY 2 & 3 – In person at USW Exchange, Newport OR Online Researching Solutions

More information

Watch this space for more information including conference timetables.

DAY 1 – Held Online Only

Session 1.1:       Opening Session  –   Welcome to the Conference                                                         10:00 to 10:30hrs

Welcome by Julie James MS, Minister for Climate ChangeWelsh Government
Prof. Chris Collins, Head of Knowledge and EvidenceNatural Resources Wales

Session 1.2:       People, Politics and Policy – Taking Stock of the Water Quality Landscape          10:30 to 12:00hrs

Chair of Session:

Nick Day  Friends of the Lower WyeCitizen Science Coordinator
Adriana Kiss  WGEmerging Threats to Water Group
Helen Lucocq  BBNPUsk Catchment Partnership
Geraint Weber  NRWInland Bathing Waters
Michael Gerardo  DCWWAMP7 and 8 Water Industry Chemical Investigation Programme
Ceri JonesNRWWales Water Management Forum  

Lunch – 12:00 to 13:00

Session 1.3:       People, Politics and Policy – Taking Stock of the Water Quality Landscape          13:00 to 14:45hrs

Chair of Session:

Faye Ward  DCWWDCWW Currently supported research and future priorities
Bridgett Emmett (CEH)  WGERAMMP
Gail Pearce-Taylor  West Wales NMBsNew ways of working to tackle new challenges: Nutrient Management Boards
Simon Evans  Vice Chair IEAP / CEO of Wye and Usk FoundationIEAP / PR24

Session 1.4:       Understanding Changes in the Quality of UK Freshwaters                                             15:15 to 17:00hrs

Chair of Session:

Prof Joseph Holden /Prof. Pippa ChapmanUniversity of LeedsIntroduction to NERC Programme
Prof Penny JohnesUniversity of BristolQUANTUM – Quantifying the combined nutrient enrichment, pathogenic, and ecotoxicological impacts of livestock farming on UK rivers.
Dr Daniel ReadUKCEHPAthways of Chemicals into Freshwaters and their ecological ImpaCts (PACIFIC)
Dr Vicky BellUKCEHLTLS-FE Freshwater Ecosystems Analysis and future scenarios of long-term and large-scale freshwater quality and impacts
Dr Amy PickardUniversity of Stirling/UKCEHMOT4Rivers – Monitoring, Modelling and Mitigating Pollution Impacts In A Changing World: Science and Tools for Tomorrow’s Rivers
Prof Alistair BoxallUniversity of YorkECOMIX – Environmental-Chemical-Organism MIXtures Project

DAY 2 – Hybrid

Session 2.1:                     Emerging Contaminants                                                                                      10:00 – 11:30hrs

Chair of Session:  Richard Dinsdale

Prof Steve OrmerodCardiff UniversityProfessorRecent trends and emergent issues in urban river quality
Nia JonesBangor UniversityPhD studentSimulating the impact of estuarine fronts on microplastic concentrations in the Conwy Estuary
James LoftyCardiff UniversityPostgraduate ResearcherMicroplastics, sediments and the Taff Bargoed.
Eve TarringCardiff UniversityPostgraduate ResearcherWater-soluble polymers: as source of emerging concern in freshwater environments.

Session 2.2                       Emerging Contaminants                                                                                     11:50 – 13:00hrs

Chair of Session:

Dr Numair MasudCardiff UniversityAcademicPlastic fish: assessing the scale, chemical properties, and biological effects of petrochemical plastics and bioplastics on aquaculture fish
Dr Amanda Clare  Aberystwyth UniversityAcademicRobust linear forecasting of trends in water quality
Brenna PhillipsUniversity of SwanseaAnalytical chemistGas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV): a sustainable alternative measurement technology for volatile species
Dr Thomaz Cordeiro-AndradeWelsh GovtProfessionalChemical Screening Update and EU EQSD proposals

Session 2.3                       Wastewater Management                                                                                  14:00 – 15:30hrs

Chair of Session:             

Dr Diana Meza-Rojas / Dr Stuart Cairns  University of SwanseaPostdoc ResearchersA sustainable “cradle to the grave” approach to the removal and valorisation of organic and inorganic contaminants using biochar  
Dr William Perry  Cardiff UniversityResearch AssociateCSOs
Prof Owen JonesCardiff UniversityProfessorEstimating the volume and dilution of wastewater being discharged by CSOs  
Dr Kata FarkasBangor UniversityPostdoc ResearcherEffect of wastewater-derived microbial contaminants on Welsh fresh and marine waters
Prof. Sandra EstevesUniversity of South WalesProfessorNutrient recovery and water quality based novel analytical tools  

Session 2.4                       Wastewater Management                                                                                  15:50 – 17:30hrs

Chair of Session:              Kata Farkas

Kelly Jordan and Emily PayneDŵr Cymru Welsh WaterProfessionalTackling Phosphorous in Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Rivers in Wales
Dr Shelagh MalhamBangor UniversityAcademicWater Quality and shellfish classification  
Prof Chedly TizaouiUniversity of SwanseaProf. of Chem EngineeringAdvanced Oxidation Processes for the Removal of Emerging Contaminants in Wastewater
Prof. Richard DinsdaleUniversity of South WalesProf.Bioelectrochemical Biosensors for Organic Load Monitoring in Sewage Treatment
Dr Alla SilkinaUniversity of Swansea Water treatment and bioremediation that we did in Wales using Algal technology

DAY 3 – Hybrid

Session 3.1:                      Eutrophication and Inland Bathing Waters                                                     09:30 to 11:00hrs

Chair of Session:  Prof Reza Ahmadian

Dr Rupert Perkins  Cardiff UniversityReaderRethinking eutrophication
Dr Mike Bowes  UKCEHAcademicUnderstanding causes of algal blooms in rivers
Claire RobertsonCardiff University; Thames 21PhD student/ProfessionalThe Oxford Rivers Project: using citizen science to monitor bacteria of public health concern in rivers
Nuala Anne DunnUniversity of AberystwythPhD studentNature connectedness through journeys on rivers by canoe and through art and how both experiences can impact pro environmental behaviours.
Man Yue Lam    Early Warning Systems for Bathing Beaches

Session 3.2:                                                                                                                                                      11:30 to 13:00hrs

Chair of Session:

Peter StanleyNRWAbandoned Mines Senior Specialist AdvisorJoint Metal (Non-Coal) Mine Programme in Wales & associated RD&I
Prof David GethinUniversity of SwanseaProfessor, Mechanical EngineeringLow Cost Manufacture of Environmental Sensors by Printing
Dr Jonay Neris TomeSwansea UniversityHonorary Research FellowWater quality impacts after wildfires: how can we anticipate risks?
Dr Tamsyn Uren WebsterUniversity of SwanseaAcademicUsing eNA to assess ecological impacts of pollution in freshwater ecosystems
Sandra Esteves   


Session 3:3:                      Water Quality Monitoring Review                                                                    14:00 – 16:00hrs

An interactive workshop session run in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales.

Speakers Bios

DAY 1 – Held Online Only

Session 1.1: Opening Session – Welcome to the Conference 10:00 to 10:30hrs

Session 1.2: People, Politics and Policy – Taking Stock of the Water Quality Landscape – 10:30 to 12:00hrs

Nick Day – Friends of the Lower Wye Citizen Science Coordinator

Retired Physicist/ Systems Engineer now acting as Citizen Science Coordinator for a Water Quality Testing Project

Citizen Science in the Wye catchment

The Wye catchment is large (for the UK) and complex in its history, geology, hydrology, and ecology. As with all the UK’s rivers, it has been suffering increasingly from pollution of varied nature originating from a wide variety of sources. Various tipping points have been identified- degradation has been increasingly apparent to its ecology and hence its perceived amenity for all users, including wild swimmers, canoeists, the fishing community, etc. ca. 2020 the Wye Salmon Association began Citizen Science Testing; this was followed by Friends of the Upper Wye and other groups large and small, coordinated by Elle vonBenzon at Cardiff University. At one stage some 9 separate groups were identified, which has now coalesced into 4 larger groups. The groups have met to collaborate in various ways on frequent occasions and there is now an increasing sense of community among the river groups across the entire area of the catchment. From an early stage we have been interested in the catchment-wide pattern of our measurements, and keen to understand how we can refine our approach to better support the regulatory authorities in terms of what and where we measure. The wider picture is of immense value to see how any given measurement fits in and whether it is indicative of a need for further investigation, and also to feed back to individual volunteers. The paper will discuss the work that Citizen Scientists have been doing, catchment-wide mapping of the measurements, and some specific local investigations and opportunities to work with the regulators. Length of presentation TBC.

Adriana Kiss – WG – Emerging Threats

Helen Lucocq – BBNP – Usk Catchment Partnership

Helen is a Chartered town planner who has specialised in collaborative policy development within protected landscapes for the past 15 years. Based in Brecon, Helen was the driving force behind the recent, much publicised 25 year Plan for Bannau Brycheinog National Park, Y Bannau: A Future – A bold collaborative vision for the future of this special place, drawn through art, poetry, story and a moon shot approach to policy. Helen has been leading on the Usk Catchment Partnership, since the phosphorus issue put a halt to the Local Development Plan she is supposed to be working on!

Usk Catchment Partnership – working together for ecological restoration of a protected river

In 2021 data published by NRW effectively put a halt on all planning permission within the Usk Catchment impacting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. To address the problem Welsh Government approach Y Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park Authority to develop a Nutrient Management Board for the Usk. This presentation will tell the story of how that request led to the co-designing a catchment based response to the multiple challenges the Usk catchment, extending way beyond freeing up planning permissions. Helen will outline how catchment based approaches have transformed how Y Bannau approaches the boundaries of strategic planning.

Geraint Weber – NRW – Inland Bathing Waters

Michael Gerardo – DCWW – AMP7 and 8 Water Industry Chemical Investigation Programme

Dr. Michael Gerardo is a chartered environmentalist working for Welsh Water leading the Wastewater Scientific Services in Wastewater Assets department. He is responsible for a wide range of activities covering process science, trade effluent management, research and innovation, commissioning and optimisation and environmental monitoring including of course CIP3. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Swansea and has published over 10 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals. He is a keen innovator with particular interest in circular economy strategies and reduction in the emission of greenhouse gas emissions.

AMP7 and 8 Water Industry Chemical Investigation Programme

An overview of the chemical investigations programme as a collaborative programme involving the ten water companies in England and Wales. Phase 3 of the investigations is nearly concluded and has focused on a wider range of chemicals and addressed emerging concerns about antimicrobial resistance and microplastics. The reports are now published for wider use and some of the conclusions are clearly showing that sludge is a sink for some of the contaminants of interest. Looking ahead into AMP8, Water companies and Regulators are working together to develop the next phase of the investigations focused on building knowledge from the previous phases and clearly quantify risk and identify potential solutions.

Ceri Jones – Senior Advisor: Catchment Management, NRW – Wales Water Management Forum

Ceri Jones has worked for NRW and predecessor organisations for over 25 years. Having studied Environmental Science, specialising in Chemistry, at Plymouth and being influenced by the pressures facing the environment at that time shaped the career direction towards the regulatory field. Working in the area of environmental protection and pollution control, Ceri worked at an operational scale for many years in South East Wales dealing with complex landfill sites, contaminated land, river pollution and minewaters. This experience was applied to a broader more strategic role in 2009 with the development of the first River Basin Management Plans.

Currently in the Integrated Water Planning Team, Ceri continues to be at the forefront of the River Basin Management Plans and catchment work. Key to this is working across many sectors and stakeholders and being the secretariat for the Wales Water Management Forum. Ceri is inspired by nature and the great outdoors, in her free time Ceri likes to swim indoors and outdoors and explore places with her dog Billie.

Wales Water Management Forum

The Wales Water Management Forum has been in existence since 2019. Set up by Natural Resources Wales its purpose is ‘To provide an opportunity for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Wales Water Management Forum (WWMF) membership organisations to share evidence and explore opportunities for working together to achieve the sustainable management of water from source to sea, in Wales.’
We will look at what the forum does, who’s involved and opportunities to be involved.

Session 1.3: People, Politics and Policy – Taking Stock of the Water Quality Landscape – 13:00 to 14:45hrs

tbc – NRW – CSO Action Group / Task Force for Better Water Quality

Faye Ward – DCWW Wastewater Research and Innovation Manager- DCWW Currently supported research and future priorities

Faye graduated from Cardiff University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Marine Geography, followed by a Master of Science in River Environmental Management from Birmingham University in 2013. Faye is passionate about the environment and keen to implement sustainable solutions in her home and working life. She has been a long standing (4yrs) committee member for the Institute of Water, and more recently on the Innovation Awards committee.

Faye has 10 years’ experience in the wastewater industry, with 5 years in wastewater process science and 3 years in sludge treatment process science. This experience includes conventional and enhanced digestion processes, particularly thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digester health and stability monitoring, with a focus on regulatory compliance.

Since December 2021 Faye has been appointed as Dwr Cymru’s Wastewater Research & Innovation (R&I) Manager, leading a team to facilitate R&I across the wastewater business areas to identify solutions to the key challenges we face as an industry.

Bridgett Emmett – Head of Soils and Land Use UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology / Welsh Gov ERAMMP

Prof Bridget Emmett is Head of Soils and Land Use for the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology which is an independent, not-for-profit research institute and part of the NERC-supported family of Research Centres. Bridget has over 30 years of experience in environmental research which has included leadership of the Welsh Government funded, multi-partner GMEP ( and ERAMMP ( initiatives since 2012 which deliver national-scale monitoring, integrated land use modelling and rapid evidence reviews to support policy development and evaluate policy implementation outcomes. She was recently awarded an OBE for her services to Soil and Ecosystem Sciences.

ERAMMP: monitoring of small water features in Wales as part of an integrating monitoring programme

Welsh Government has been funding a national integrated monitoring programme to capture the state and change of our wider countryside. This is part of the ERAMMP programme which started in 2012 and has just been recommissioned for a further 10 years. As part of this programme, the extent, status and change of headwater streams and ponds are reported from our nationally representative sample of 1 km square sample sites across Wales. These small water features provide important habitat for a range of characteristic plant and animal species and stepping stones for biota to disperse across the landscape. Results reported to date indicate there is between 9.5 – 16 thousand kilometers of headwaters in Wales of which 83% have good or high diversity. There are estimated to be 57,800 ponds but only 13% sampled are in good ecological condition. Poaching is the key cause of stream modification and was observed in 55% of streams sampled. Change over the last 10 years including impacts of Glastir actions will be reported in July 2024.

Gail Pearce-Taylor – West Wales NMBs – New ways of working to tackle new challenges: Nutrient Management Boards

Simon Evans – Vice Chair IEAP / CEO of Wye and Usk Foundation – IEAP / PR2

Session 1.4: Understanding Changes in the Quality of UK Freshwaters – 15:15 to 17:00hrs

Prof Joseph Holden – University of Leeds – Introduction to NERC Programme

Prof. Pippa Chapman – University of Leeds – Introduction to NERC Programme

Prof Penny Johnes – University of Bristol QUANTUM – Quantifying the combined nutrient enrichment, pathogenic, and ecotoxicological impacts of livestock farming on UK rivers

Dr Daniel Read – UKCEH PAthways of Chemicals into Freshwaters and their ecological ImpaCts (PACIFIC)

Dr Vicky Bell – UKCEH LTLS-FE Freshwater Ecosystems Analysis and future scenarios of long-term and large-scale freshwater quality and impacts

Dr Amy Pickard – Aquatic Biogeochemist University of Stirling/UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Amy’s research concerns carbon, nutrient and greenhouse gas cycling in aquatic environments, from headwater streams to estuaries. Her work combines field- and laboratory-based experiments with collection and analysis of long-term data, and empirical modelling. She has worked extensively with the UK water industry to determine how changes in water quality will affect treatment requirements, and to assess the options available to mitigate against future changes to water quality. She is a Research Leader Fellow within the Hydro Nation Chair programme, where she works with Scottish Water towards achieving their net zero and beyond 2035 target. Amy is interested in greenhouse gas emissions from inland waters and has explored this through collaborations at the national and international scale. She is currently project manager for the GHG Aqua research project, which will deliver a globally unique integrated measurement platform to transform the UK’s capability to quantify GHG emissions from inland waters. Amy is a Co-I and WP co-lead for MOT4Rivers.

MOT4Rivers: Monitoring, modelling and mitigating pollution impacts in a changing world: science and tools for tomorrow’s rivers

For centuries, human activities have impacted our rivers by shifting the sources and combinations of physical, biological and chemical drivers and pressures. However, our understanding of their impact on ecosystems has been limited by viewing each in isolation and not considering their combined effects on the ability of aquatic ecosystems to thrive, especially within the context of a changing climate. Significant reductions in some regulated pollutants (such as nitrogen and phosphorus) have been achieved in recent decades.

However, even with these improvements, we are witnessing declining water quality of our rivers, and the resulting loss of freshwater species and biota. Increasing numbers of new contaminants of concern (for example, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, illicit drugs, micro plastics etc.) have emerged. This means that our freshwater species are being challenged by pollutant cocktails (mixtures) whose effects are poorly understood.

MOT4Rivers will address knowledge gaps around the effects of hydro-climatic and land use changes in combination with the different mixtures of chemicals on freshwater species. The project capitalises on next generation sensors to understand event-based impacts on aquatic ecosystems within a study catchment, the River Almond in central Scotland, with a complex history of pollution. In addition, at the national scale, a suite of artificial intelligence methods will be employed to understand longer terms impacts of chemical exposures on ecological sensitivity. The project will deliver a risk model and tool to support decisions climate mitigation and adaptation decision making.

This presentation will provide an overview of the project and the MOT4Rivers team’s activities to date.

Prof Alistair Boxall – Professor – University of York ECOMIX

Alistair is Professor of Environmental Science at the University of York. His research foucuses on understanding the impacts of emerging contaminants (including pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines, nanomaterials and transformation products) on the natural environment. Alistair is PI of the NERC ECOMIX project and Director of the NERC ECORISC Centre for Doctoral Training.

The ECOMIX Project: Assessing the Impacts of Chemical Mixtures on the Biodiversity of Yorkshire’s Rivers

Yorkshire’s rivers are exposed to a wide range of chemical pollutants and co-stressors arising from multiple sources. The impacts of these contaminant/co-stressor mixtures on freshwater communities is, however, poorly understood. The ECOMIX project is therefore developing and applying a new framework for assessing the impacts of mixtures of chemicals and co-stressors on mixtures of species at high spatial and temporal resolutions. This framework will be applied to characterize the impacts of chemical pollutants on the health of Yorkshire’s rivers both now and into the future. In this presentation, I will present the vision for the project and an overview of progress to date.

DAY 2 – Hybrid

Session 2.1: Emerging Contaminants – 10:00 – 11:30hrs

Richard Dinsdale

Professor Richard Dinsdale is the Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies at the University of South Wales, UK. A biologist by training, his first degree was in Applied Biology (Biotechnology) and he worked as a microbiologist in a pharmaceutical company before he started his academic career in the area of environmental biotechnology. His research activities are directed at optimizing microbial cultures for the production of energy either in the form of methane, hydrogen or as electricity directly from bioelectrochemical systems as well as other chemical products such as bioplastics, single cell protein and lipids from low grade biomass resources. In his research into bioelectrochemical systems he intends to fuse the developments in electrical and electronic engineering with microbial systems to directly manipulate their metabolism to improve the efficiency of wastewater treatment, metal recovery and carbon conversion to chemicals and fuels.

Prof Steve Ormerod – Cardiff University Professor

Complementing the perspectives of other members of the Organisms and Environment Division, my work is explicitly ecological and unified by the theme of ecosystem-scale perspective of rivers, lakes and wetlands.  Activities focus on:
– Global change effects on freshwater organisms and ecosystems
– River Ecosystem services
– Pollution including #microplastics
– The ecology of river and wetland birds
Solutions to the problems of freshwater ecosystems through policy and management are also an important focus, and I co-direct the University’s Water Research Institute having been instrumental in its formation. I’m also involved in the application of ecology as Deputy Chairman of Natural Resources Wales (the largest Welsh Government sponsored body), a member of the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Chairman of Buglife (Europe’s Invertebrate Charity) and Vice President of the RSPB (Europe’s largest wildlife charity).

Recent trends and emergent issues in urban river quality

Drawing on recent published and unpublished work, this contribution will i) appraise long-term trends in urban river quality in England and Wales; ii) draw attention to spatio-temporal patterns in legacy (eg PCBs, PBDEs) and emerging contaminants (pharmaceuticals and plastics) in selected Welsh freshwater ecosystems; and iii) discuss the relevance to priority actions to address urban pollution

Nia Jones – Bangor University PhD student

I am a NERC-funded PhD researcher through the Envision Doctoral Training Programme, in my final year of study. By using a range of numerical modelling approaches, I am investigating the role of fronts and secondary flows on microplastic dispersal and how these processes impact how plastic pollution in transported from terrestrial to marine environments. In addition to my PhD studies, I am also a Research Project Support Officer in Coastal Modelling developing modelling techniques with application to real estuarine case studies to help predict and understand dispersal processes in estuarine environments as part of the NERC-funded Plastic Vectors Project.

Simulating the impact of estuarine fronts on microplastic concentrations in the Conwy Estuary

Oceanic and coastal fronts are well-documented as accumulators of microplastic debris; however the impact of estuarine fronts and their associated secondary flows on microplastic concentrations are less well-known. An investigation into the dynamics of microplastic behaviour within estuarine systems will allow for a greater understanding of plastic retention and exportation to coastal and offshore environments. This study combines high resolution modelling of estuarine processes with realistically parameterized microplastic particles to determine local exposure levels, residence times and temporal variability. We present a validated, three-dimensional, D-Flow Flexible mesh (D-Flow FM) model of a well-mixed estuary (Conwy Estuary, Wales, UK), demonstrating the regular development of an axial convergent front following high tide. A Lagrangian particle tracking model has been applied to simulate the behaviour of microplastic in these frontal systems and analyse how this behaviour may change as a response to various river discharge levels and tidal phases. The results of the ocean model and Lagrangian particle tracking model will be presented. Understanding how estuarine fronts impact microplastic concentration and dispersal within estuaries will increase the accuracy of modelling and in-situ estuarine microplastic studies alike, helping to quantify the contribution of well-mixed estuaries to regional and global microplastic budgets, and bridging the gap between terrestrial and marine environments.

James Lofty – Cardiff University Postgraduate Researcher

PhD student at Cardiff University School of Engineering investigating transport mechanics of microplastics in riverine flows

Microplastics, sediments and the Taff Bargoed

Plastics particles smaller than 5 mm in size, named microplastics, are a threat to the aquatic ecosystems as particles are easily ingested by organisms, because of their small size, and their capacity to act as vectors for pathogens, organic contaminants, and invasive species. Laboratory hydrodynamic experiments previously carried out at Cardiff University (Lofty et al. 2023) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Valero et al. 2022) have shown that the mechanisms that govern bed load and suspended load transport of plastic and natural sediments are analogous. However, these experiments were conducted in open channel flumes under idealized flow conditions, therefore, it is still unknown how the transport of microplastics in natural river systems is affected by temporally variable flow conditions and varying bed roughness. To address this, field campaigns are being conducted to characterise the upper Taff Bargoed River (Merthyr Tydfil, South East Wales), which is a gravel bed modified river, in terms of its rainfall-runoff response and how runoff pulses impact the instream water quality (pH, suspended sediments, conductivity, salinity). We also investigate instream microplastic concentration where the suspected inputs are due to land runoff, fly tipping and mining wastewaters. These datasets allow for a novel rainfall-runoff approach to be used to assess the relationship between concentrations of suspended solids and microplastic to be assessed, within context of the hydraulic variability of the river. This project, in partnership with Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, further plans to use these data sets to implement a continuous monitoring programme for other river contaminates at the Taff Bargoed River caused by legacy mine wastewaters.

Eve Tarring – Cardiff University Postgraduate Researcher – Water-soluble polymers: as source of emerging concern in freshwater environments

BSc Chemistry, University of Sheffield, 2017-2020; MRes Biogeochemistry, University of Bristol, 2020-2022; PhD, Cardiff University, 2022-present. Secondment in the Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology team at Ricardo Energy and Environment, 2023.

Water-Soluble Polymers: A Source of Emerging Concern in Freshwater Environments

In the field of plastic pollution, water-insoluble plastics such as micro and nanoplastics have moved to the forefront of polymer research. Over the last decade, numerous studies have highlighted their detrimental environmental impact, with interest in this field only growing. However, in the wider conversation regarding plastic pollution, water-soluble plastics (WSPs) have been excluded from the conversation. With a large variety of properties, the applications for WSPs are increasing. Their use in industry as well as household products, often as thickeners, stabilisers and flocculants, demonstrate their prevalence in high-use products and, therefore, their likelihood to end up in freshwater environments, particularly through the route of wastewater treatment. However, the gap in sensitive analytical techniques to detect WSPs represents one of the greatest challenges to research. Mass spectrometry, such as matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation (MALDI), is one of the most explored techniques for polymer research due to the small amount of analyte needed. However, it requires complex sample preparation and is not quantitative. Size-exclusion chromatography (SEC) such as gel-permeation chromatography (GPC), on the other hand, can quantify polymer in the sample but is less sensitive. As well as difficulties detecting WSPs in the environment, very little is reported on their effects on freshwater organisms. As the major path for WSPs entering the environment is wastewater treatment, a large recipient of this waste is expected to be rivers. Despite this, and due to assumptions made about removal and degradation, there has been little investigation into toxicity and environmental impact to date. Our research has focussed on developing MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry methods to detect a range of WSPs at a low concentration in samples such as cosmetic products and their degradation in wastewater. As well as this, we have been developing a tandem GPC/MALDI-TOF method to identify, separate and quantify polymers in cosmetic samples and environmental media. Combining these analytical methods with toxicity studies allows sublethal effects to be measured and polymer chemistry and degradation to be measured at the same time, opening up a new avenue in WSP research. This will further our understanding into the scope of these plastics in the environment, as well as their potential threats.

Session 2.2: Emerging Contaminants 11:50 – 13:00hrs

Dr Numair Masud – Cardiff University Academic – Plastic fish: assessing the scale, chemical properties, and biological effects of petrochemical plastics and bioplastics on aquaculture fish

Dr Numair Masud is a Postdoctoral Research Associate based at Cardiff University’s freshwater fish laboratories who is passionate about and specialises in fish welfare. In particular, Numair focusses on anthropogenic stressors (most recently plastic pollutants) and how they impact key welfare parameters within fish with a focus on host-parasite interactions.

Plastic fish: assessing the scale, chemical properties, and biological effects of petrochemical plastics and bioplastics on aquaculture fish

This presentation will provide an overview of a recently funded BBSRC grant which will assess the scale, chemical properties, and biological effects of traditional petrochemical and up and coming bioplastics on aquaculture fish welfare. This project, based within Cardiff University’s freshwater fish laboratories, is an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Schools of Chemistry and Engineering. There are three key aims and objectives of this project. Firstly, we will utilise cutting edge spectroscopy and imaging analysis to assess the scale of plastic pollutants within aquaculture fish farms across the UK. Secondly, we will determine the chemical adsorption and desorption capacity of microplastics in relation to their common plasticisers, thermal stabilisers, and aquatic toxins as well as their impacts on aquaculture fish growth, metabolism, and disease resistance, including underlying molecular mechanisms. Thirdly, we will investigate the degradability, adsorption, and desorption capacity of biobased plastics (i.e., bioplastics) compared with petrochemical plastics within aquaculture environments and their biological impacts on fish welfare. Through collaborations with various government and industry partners, this project will provide important assessment of not only the scale of plastic pollution within one of the most important sources of human protein, fish, but also help prevent greenwashing by assessing now widely advertised biobased polymers.

Dr Amanda Clare – Aberystwyth University Academic

Dr Amanda Clare is a senior lecturer at the Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University. She works together with Dr Kate Martin of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to research intelligent tools for risk identification for the water industry. She specialises in data science, sequence analysis and bioinformatics, in comparing and modelling distributions, outliers and errors, and summarising data.

Robust linear forecasting of trends in water quality

To usefully forecast the capacity of water treatment plants we need to estimate future contaminant trends. Linear models of trends in water quality that are calculated using ordinary least squares regression can be substantially disturbed by outlier events such as unusual weather, or one-off maintenance issues. In this talk we show what consequences outliers can have when using such models to detect growing or emerging problems in water treatment. We then explain how to use the more robust Thiel-Sen method of fitting a line to a series of points, a non-parametric method based on the median rather than mean. We demonstrate that this provides a model which can better fit long term trends and explain why it is not unduly influenced by outlier events.

Brenna Phillips – University of Swansea – Analytical Chemist

Brenna Phillips is a Research and Development Innovation Technician in Swansea University’s Medical School; this is her first research post after completing her MSc in November 2022. She is working with Dr A Ruth Godfrey et al to deliver a more sustainable measurement method for plastic analysis using Gas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV).

Gas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV): a sustainable alternative measurement technology for volatile species

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: Gas Chromatography-Vacuum Ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-VUV) uses the power of high-resolution GC separations with the enhanced analytical scope and selectivity of the non-destructive VUV detector. VUV offers significant potential for reliable qualitative and quantitative analysis across a broad range of applications since almost all chemical species strongly absorb at VUV wavelengths due to the excitation of a broad range of high energy electronic transitions. With nearly all molecules having a unique electronic structure (and absorption cross-section), this can provide a highly specific spectral ‘fingerprint’, enabling the identification of analytes through comparison with reference spectra. By interfacing advanced bead milling homogenization and multi-modal Optic-4 sample introduction systems to release ‘hidden’ chemicals across material types, and the applicability of GC-VUV to a broader range of volatile and semi-volatile chemistries, Swansea’s installation uniquely offers enhanced analytical monitoring for substances routinely measured using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Furthermore, with the transfer of the system to a highly sustainable nitrogen gas system this installation provides a ‘greener’ approach to the analysis of volatile chemistries for the development of improved technologies, processes, products, and policies that bridge the life science, health, manufacturing, and environmental sectors. This presentation will introduce an early developmental approach to plastic analysis using GC-VUV.

Dr Thomaz Cordeiro-Andrade – Welsh Govt Professional – Chemical Screening Update and EU EQSD proposals

Session 2.3: Wastewater Management 14:00 – 15:30hrs

Dr Diana Meza-Rojas – University of Swansea Postdoc Researcher – A sustainable “cradle to the grave” approach to the removal and valorisation of organic and inorganic contaminants using biochar

Dr Diana Meza-Rojas is a postdoctoral researcher at Swansea University. Her expertise is in design/synthesis and testing of bespoke molecules for surface engineering/interfacial control.

Dr Stuart Cairns – University of Swansea Postdoc Researcher – A sustainable “cradle to the grave” approach to the removal and valorisation of organic and inorganic contaminants using biochar

Dr Stuart Cairns is a postdoctoral researcher at Swansea University. He has worked on remediating waters polluted by mine water runoff and motorway runoff using sorbent biochar. He is the lead author on papers on characterisation, sorbent modification, sorbent capacities, mechanisms and scaling of biochar and its use to remediate aquatic environments. 

A sustainable “cradle to the grave” approach to the removal and valorisation of organic and inorganic contaminants using biochar

Access to clean water and sanitation is defined as a basic human right. Water is essential for all life and cycles through human, industrial or natural use before recycling in the environment. However, finding “clean”, natural water is a problem because trace pollutants are ubiquitous: a legacy of industrial development – acid mine drainage (e.g., Pb2+, Cu2+, Zn2+), and anthropogenic inputs pesticides (e.g., chlorophenoxyl herbicides), dyes (e.g., congo red, malachite green etc) microplastics etc. Current UK water treatment handles large volumes at low cost. To optimise clean-up, broad-spectrum approaches are used (e.g., filtration, sorption, precipitation) allied to disinfection by chlorination for potable water. However, whilst this removes larger molecular weight (MW) organic matter (e.g., humic and fulvic material), low MW molecules (< 200 g/mol) can escape. Our approach looks to adopt a “cradle to the grave” approach to pollutant removal to develop new commercial models where valorised pollutants pay for their recycling. Computer simulation will enable optimal design of pollutant uptake and release to design selective biochar sorbents for large scale deployment to remove targeted pollutants and to recycle biochar sorbents for repeated re-use. Studies we have undertaken have already demonstrated the ability of amended biochar to remove Pb and Zn from mine impacted waters, but this work will improve efficacy and target specific problem pollutants. Low pollutant concentrations and the need to recycle them into pure feedstocks requires this selective sorption/desorption approach while sustainable scaffolds (e.g., biochar) are needed for safe environmental deployment. The UK, and Wales in particular, have the opportunity to lead the emerging, global circular economy which is the next industrial revolution, i.e., we must develop new technologies and business models to recycle our resources more efficiently.

Dr William Perry Cardiff University Research Associate CSOs

Dr William Perry is a molecular ecologist and postdoctoral researcher who joined the Water Research Institute at Cardiff University in 2021, working as part of the data team on the Welsh Government funded Wales Environmental Wastewater Analysis & Surveillance for Health (WEWASH) project. During this time, he has also been involved in projects with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water looking at the issue of Combined Sewer Overflows, as well a Global Challenges Research Fund project comparing the COVID wastewater surveillance response in Wales and in São Paulo, Brazil. Previously, William had worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Bangor University on a Natural Environment Research Council highlight topic funded project, investigating eDNA in rivers and streams. He completed his PhD at Bangor University in 2020, having worked with the Institute of Marine Research, Norway, and investigated the impact of aquaculture on wild Atlantic salmon. Alongside his academic positions, William is also a Commentary Editor for the Journal of Fish Biology and the Publicity Coordinator for the Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

Addressing the challenges of combined sewer overflows

Europe’s aging wastewater system often combines household and industrial sewage as well as surface runoff. To mitigate the risks associated with overwhelming wastewater treatment facilities during storms and prevent wastewater from overflowing into properties, Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are integrated into wastewater networks. These CSOs release excess discharge directly into rivers or coastal waters without treatment. However, due to growing public scrutiny, increasing frequency of discharges as well as concern over the potential impacts on the environment and public health, now is a crucial time to better understand the CSO problem. This understanding will then enable us to prioritize cost-effective solutions. I will summarise findings from our recent review, covering: i) the composition of CSO discharges in terms of chemical, physical, and biological elements, ii) variations in the quantity, quality, and load of overflows discharged into receiving waters, considering spatial and temporal factors, iii) potential impacts on people, ecosystems, and economies, as well as iv) highlighting existing knowledge gaps that hinder an effective resolution to the problem. Finally, I will explore options for alleviating CSO issues while considering economic costs, carbon neutrality, ecosystem benefits, and community well-being.

Prof Owen Jones Cardiff University Professor Estimating the volume and dilution of wastewater being discharged by CSOs

Professor Owen Jones has a Chair in Operational Research at Cardiff Universities School of Mathematics. He is broadly interested in applications of OR techniques to environmental management problems, and is an active member of the Water Research Institute at Cardiff University.

Estimating the volume and dilution of wastewater being discharged by CSOs

The Wales Environmental Wastewater Analysis & Surveillance for Health (WeWASH) project measures levels of SARS-CoV-2, ammonia, orthophosphate, and electrical conductivity at wastewater treatment sites across Wales. Using the dilution of these biological and chemical markers we can estimate the flow before any diversion to CSOs, hence comparing with the measured flow at the treatment site we can estimate the volume and dilution of wastewater being diverted to CSOs.

Dr Kata Farkas – Bangor University Postdoc Researcher

I finished my PhD studies in microbiology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 2014. My PhD research focused the fate and transport of enteric viruses in groundwater. After a short-term postdoc position in New Zealand, I came to Bangor in 2015. I have been working on the Viraqua and the Shellfish Centre projects on microbial surface water quality, shellfish hygiene and public health. My research focuses on waterborne enteric viruses, which cause gastrointestinal illness. These viruses are shed in faeces and resist wastewater treatment. They are persistent in the aquatic environment as well and hence often infect people who consume or bath in contaminated water or eat raw shellfish harvested from polluted water. As the global population grows, the magnitude of wastewater entering the environment also increases rapidly and so does the number and variety of viruses in the environment. I am interested in understanding how these viruses are transported and how long they pose a public health threat, especially in developing regions. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our research group has been involved in the wastewater-based surveillance of SARS-CoV-2, to provide data on the spread of the disease at community level. I am leading research and innovation on sampling strategies and analytical method development for the accurate detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other novel and emerging viruses, e.g. poliovirus, monkeypox, in wastewater.

Effect of wastewater-derived microbial contaminants on Welsh fresh and marine waters

Wastewater is a major contributor to the pollution of the aquatic environment globally. However, adequate wastewater treatment sufficiently reduces the concentration of most organic contaminants, many viruses, however, other microbes remain resistant to such treatments. Furthermore, untreated wastewater may also enter water bodies via combined sewer outflows during heavy rain events. As a result, waterborne and foodborne illnesses frequently occur when polluted water is used for recreational and aquaculture activities. Our research group at Bangor University has been involved in the investigation and mitigation of wastewater-derived human pathogens for over a decade. Since early 2020, we have also been utilising wastewater surveillance for tracking COVID-19 outbreaks at the community level. As SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens are often excreted in faeces and urine, the concentration of pathogens in wastewater can indicate the rise and decrease of case numbers. In the past three years, our programme has been extended to cover approximately 75% of the Welsh population by sampling 47 municipal wastewater treatment plants five times a week and six hospital sites four times a week for the monitoring of respiratory (SARS-CoV-2, influenza viruses, RSV) and enteric viruses (noroviruses and enteroviruses, including poliovirus), antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and the protozoan Cryptosporidium. The decreases and increases in viral titres in wastewater may indicate the probability of waterborne illnesses reaching freshwaters and the coastal zone from wastewater discharges. Using mathematical modelling and artificial intelligence, the contamination can be mapped, and high and low risk areas and times can be identified. The information generated would be extremely useful for predicting exposure risk to bathers (e.g. wild swimmers) and the shellfish industry and would greatly expand the current public and environmental health surveillance.

Prof. Sandra Esteves University of South Wales Professor Nutrient recovery and water quality based novel analytical tools

Session 2.4: Wastewater Management – 15:50 – 17:30hrs

Kelly Jordan and Emily Payne – Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water Professional – Tackling Phosphorous in Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Rivers in Wales

I have recently joined Dwr Cymru, having spent the last 10 years of my career in wastewater operational management at United Utilities. This role covers a wide remit, working with Nutrient Management Boards and associated groups, as well as being a point of contact for other stakeholders with river quality concerns. As a team, we work collaboratively internally and with various external groups and individuals, providing data and information, working towards more partnership working for wider benefit to our customers and the environment.

Reducing Phosphorous in SAC Rivers in Wales

There are 5 Special Area of Conservation (SAC) Rivers in Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s operating area failing to achieve phosphorus targets. As River Quality Liaison Managers, we work closely with various stakeholders impacted by phosphorus concerns and will compare conclusions of 2 rivers from our local catchments. This is part of our ‘Manifesto for Rivers’ outlining our future plans for these waterbodies, informed by our recently updated SAGIS modelling.

Dr Shelagh Malham – Bangor University Academic – Water Quality and shellfish classification

Prof Chedly Tizaoui – University of Swansea – Prof. of Chem Engineering – Advanced Oxidation Processes for the Removal of Emerging Contaminants in Wastewater

Chedly Tizaoui, FIChemE, is a Professor of Chemical Engineering (Water Treatment) at Swansea University, UK. He has research interests in water and wastewater treatment with focus on advanced oxidation and separation processes. He particularly targets his research to address challenging issues related to water quality, waste valorisation, circular economy, and more recently COVID-19 disinfection. So far, Tizaoui has supervised over 25 PhD and Postdoc researchers to successful completion and has published over 130 papers in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences as well as authoring technical reports for several organisations. He received research funding from major funding bodies and industry, and he sits on the editorial boards of several peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Advanced Oxidation Processes for the Removal of Emerging Contaminants in Wastewater

Chemicals of synthetic or natural origins that are not commonly monitored in the environment but have the potential to cause known or suspected adverse health effects are designated as emerging contaminants (ECs). They include a range of substances such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products, hormones, antibiotics, and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). EDCs are particularly significant because they interact with hormone receptors and cause changes in natural response patterns of the endocrine system. They could act as mimics, blockers, stimulators, endocrine flushers, enzyme flushers or destructors. Although a range of compounds have been found to cause endocrine disruption, natural and synthetic estrogens are highly potent. Wastewater treatment plants, which are not commonly designed to remove ECs, are the main source of these substances in the environment. Other sources include run off from livestock farmlands, septic tank systems, industrial discharges, and firefighting runoffs. The presence of ECs in treated wastewater is of great concern due to their potential harmful effects on human health resulting from exposure to these substances via water or the food chain. In the search for effective treatment methods, advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) are important treatment technologies that have merits to address the issue of ECs in water. AOPs are those processes that produce hydroxyl radicals in significant amounts that affect water treatment such as those based on ozone, hydrogen peroxide, non-thermal plasma (NTP), or UV. The hydroxyl radicals produced by AOPs react with and destroy a wide range of organic and inorganic contaminants even those which are difficult to degrade biologically. This paper will summarise research carried out by our group in the removal of ECs using ozone-, UV-, and NTP-based AOPs. A particular focus of this paper will be on the degradation rates of the studied substances and the effect of the operating conditions on their removal. Data presented will be useful to evaluate the proposed treatment techniques as means for water sustainability and potential reuse.

Prof. Richard Dinsdale – University of South Wales Professor

Professor Richard Dinsdale is the Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies at the University of South Wales, UK. A biologist by training, his first degree was in Applied Biology (Biotechnology) and he worked as a microbiologist in a pharmaceutical company before he started his academic career in the area of environmental biotechnology. His research activities are directed at optimizing microbial cultures for the production of energy either in the form of methane, hydrogen or as electricity directly from bioelectrochemical systems as well as other chemical products such as bioplastics, single cell protein and lipids from low grade biomass resources. In his research into bioelectrochemical systems he intends to fuse the developments in electrical and electronic engineering with microbial systems to directly manipulate their metabolism to improve the efficiency of wastewater treatment, metal recovery and carbon conversion to chemicals and fuels.

Bioelectrochemical Biosensors for Organic Load Monitoring in Sewage Treatment

A prototype instrument has been developed as a multistage sensor based on a tubular microbial fuel cell reactor design which has increased the dynamic range of organic load measurement as a surrogate measurement of BOD as well as facilitating the use of the sensor as a measurement of toxicity. The prototype instrument operates in triplicate and includes on-line instrumentation such as conductivity, temperature and pH used to monitor but also diagnose changes in the biochemical activity of the sensor. The organic load sensor has been installed at the inlet of an activated sludge plant treating largely domestic wastewater to be used to monitor a municipal sewage treatment plant to measure performance and be used as a process optimisation tool. The sensor has been successfully operating for 6 months and output has been calibrated and correlated against total CBOD5, soluble CBOD5, soluble COD and total COD.

Dr Alla Silkina – University of Swansea – Water treatment and bioremediation that we did in Wales using Algal technology

Dr Alla Silkina, a Research Officer at SU. She is an algal cultivation expert, with more than 25 published papers and over 20 years of laboratory and industrial scale algal cultivation experience. She has secured >£10M in algal related research projects and has scientifically led several projects funded by Research Councils, Innovate UK and Europe often working with industry. She is currently working on 3 European and 2 nationally funded projects, using algal culture for waste remediation and biomass valorization. Alla is currently responsible for overseeing the running of the extensive algal facility at SU and at the Bluestone Brewery facilities, Wales, UK.

Pilot cases for water treatment and bioremediation that we did in Wales using Algal technology.

There is an urgent need to deploy a working environmentally friendly technology of wastewater treatment. The multiple projects of algal biotechnology team from Swansea University were applied an algal bioremediation platform for the local and wide environmental impact of reduction of waste streams in the natural water bodies in Wales. These projects were directly contributed for the improvement of several UK societal challenges such as water research, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials, food security, sustainable agriculture and health, demographic change and wellbeing. Water is essential to life. The impacts of environmental change to our water cycle are significant. A reliable, safe and resilient infrastructure able to supply water, energy, communications, waste services and transport systems is essential to society.

The algal remediation was cleaning the municipal/ food /agricultural waste and the process water before being released to the natural water body. So primarily, this activity contributed to the water research, helping to have stable environment and use the resources efficiently, by recycling water and nutrients. Consequently, this waste treatment is needed to be further developed, in order to improve health in reflection of demographic changes and provide food security as algal biomass could be used as biofertilisers/biostimulants for the sustainable agriculture.

DAY 3 – Hybrid

Session 3.1: Eutrophication and Inland Bathing Waters – 09:30 to 11:00hrs

Chair of Session:  Prof Reza Ahmadian

Dr Rupert Perkins Cardiff University Reader Rethinking eutrophication

Dr Mike Bowes UKCEH Academic

Dr Mike Bowes is an Environmental Biogeochemist with 25 years’ environmental research experience at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH). He leads the River Water Quality and Ecology Research Group. His main research interest is investigating the sources, fates and dynamics of nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen and silicon) within water bodies, and the role they play in algal blooms. He leads UKCEH’s Thames Initiative Research Platform, which has monitored water quality and algae of the Thames and its tributaries since 2009.

Understanding causes of algal blooms in rivers

Excessive phytoplankton concentrations in rivers can result in the loss of plant and invertebrate communities, and threaten drinking water supplies, but the causes and timing of algal blooms and community succession in rivers is relatively poorly understood. Flow cytometry was used to characterise the algal community at weekly intervals at multiple sites along the River Thames from 2011 to 2018. Niche modelling was used to determine how phytoplankton blooms and community succession was controlled by water temperature, flow, solar radiation, phosphorus and dissolved silicon concentrations. This research suggests that weather conditions play a much greater role in causing algal blooms than nutrient pollution. This research can be applied to other rivers to indicate the most effective measures to reduce eutrophication risk now and in future under climate change scenarios.

Claire Robertson Cardiff University; Thames 21 PhD student/Professional The Oxford Rivers Project: using citizen science to monitor bacteria of public health concern in rivers

Inspired by 30 years of exploring and teaching outdoors in Snowdonia my work tries to express the elemental feel of Snowdonia’s landscapes and seascapes. It also draws on my experiences of travels further afield in remote and wild places. Currently researching nature connectedness through journeys on rivers by canoe and through art and how both experiences can impact pro environmental behaviours.

Nuala Anne Dunn – University of Aberystwyth – PhD student

I have a B. Ed in Art and Environmental studies and have worked in Education for the past 35 years. As head of an Outdoor Education Centre, I witnessed first hand the importance of rivers and water to children and young people and the sheer joy that learning and immersion in the natural world can bring. I gained an MA in fine art in 2022 from Aberystwyth University. I have just started a PhD (through arts practice), investigating how art and science can work together to show the importance of rivers to human health and well-being.
I lead groups for several organizations, using art, outdoor adventurous activities and environmental studies in a holistic manner.

How can art and science work together to show the importance of Rivers to human health and wellbeing?

My presentation will address how exploration, discovery and creativity can build connections between people and nature. It will question how this can contribute to debates about water and our relationships to rivers and other water bodies. It will explore how emotions and physical sensations allow us to know with our heart and body forming part of a holistic experience and understanding. Can art offer a process and media for sharing this holistic experience? How could art and science work together to show the importance of rivers to human health and wellbeing? Could this encourage participation in actively caring for the planet?

Man Yue Lam Early Warning Systems for Bathing Beaches

AI and hydro-environmental modelling of Swansea Bay, UK

Coastal and riverine waters can be impaired in many ways; one important way is pathogenic microbe contamination of water used for drinking, aquaculture, and human recreation. A high Faecal Indicator Organisms (FIOs) in nearshore coastal waters are usually correlated with high pathogenic contamination and may lead to significant public health concern and economic loss. Water quality models are important for pollutant management, efficiency in the water industry and public information on bathing water quality. While hydro-environmental models provide understanding on the transport and decay of FIOs, data-driven AI models enable real-time water quality prediction and public information. This presentation demonstrates the application of AI and hydro-environmental models in Swansea Bay, UK, where several popular bathing water sites are located.

Session 3.2: Water Quality – 11:30 to 13:00hrs

Peter Stanley NRW Abandoned Mines Senior Specialist Advisor Joint Metal (Non-Coal) Mine Programme in Wales & associated RD&I

Peter has worked in environmental compliance, land quality, landfill gas assessments, remediation and landfill engineering, receiving his CGeol last century. Peter acts as a Scrutineer for applicants progressing through Chartership with the Geological Society. Peter developed the Metal (Non-Coal) Mine Programme for Geoscience NRW and now acts as the NRW Portfolio Manager/Technical Authority.

Prof David Gethin University of Swansea Professor, Mechanical Engineering Low Cost Manufacture of Environmental Sensors by Printing

Dr Jonay Neris Tome Swansea University Honorary Research Fellow

Lecturer of Soil Science at the University of La Laguna (Spain) and Honorary Researcher at Swansea University (UK). He focuses on modelling soil hydrology, erosion, ash transport and water contamination in post-fire environments. He is co-developer of the Wildfire Ash Transport And Risk estimation tool (WATAR) in collaboration with researchers in the UK (Swansea University), US (Forest Service) and Australia (University of Melbourne). WATAR is a probabilistic model included in the US Forest Service WEPP model suite (Water Erosion Prediction Project model) with capabilities to predict ash and nutrients transport and contamination risk after wildfires.

Water quality impacts after wildfires: how can we anticipate risks?

In the current and projected future decline in fresh water availability fire is already recognized as a major threat. Fire-prone and fire-managed land, including grasslands or peatlands, provide 60 % of the water supply for the world’s largest 100 cities and for 70 % of the UK’s population. Every year wildland fires burn more than 350 Mill. hectares of the global land surface (almost 200 times the size of Wales) and the UK Fire and Rescue Services attend over 70,000 vegetation fires per year. Fire is a key ecological agent and a traditional land management tool in many ecosystems, including the Welsh uplands. However, sediments and ashes transported after fires can have serious immediate and longer-term impacts on water quality. These materials are often rich in pollutants and very susceptible to movement during fire-enhanced water erosion events and, thus, can compromise the fresh water supply to the population. Predicting sediment, ash and contaminants moving from hillslopes and reaching rivers and reservoirs after fires is key to anticipate risks and support managers in identifying limitations in the water treatment capacity and in designing cost-effective measures to reduce and mitigate water quality impacts from fires. The WEPPcloud-WATAR tool (Water Erosion Prediction Project cloud model – Wildfire Ash Transport And Risk estimation tool) is a new on-line tool designed for end-users with capabilities to predict sediment, ash and contaminant transport after fires. This tool provides comprehensive probabilistic and spatially distributed predictions of contaminants reaching water assets with minor requirements from the user. WEPPcloud-WATAR have already supported water quality managers in reducing water contamination risks after fires in Manchester (UK, 2018), Sydney (Australia, 2019), Oregon (USA, 2020) and Colorado (USA, 2020).

Dr Tamsyn Uren Webster – University of Swansea Academic

My research broadly focuses on the impacts of environmental challenges, including pollution, on animal and ecosystem health. My background includes examining the impacts of metal and pesticide toxicity on freshwater organisms. I use molecular tools to elucidate mechanisms of adverse effect and, also, to establish whether, and how, organisms can adapt to changes in their environment.

Using eNA to assess ecological impacts of pollution in freshwater ecosystems

Freshwater environments are often contaminated with a complex and diverse array of chemicals, including from industrial, agricultural, and domestic origin. These range from historical pollutants sequestered in sediments, to those present in effluent and runoff, and to new and emerging contaminants. Considering this complexity, which includes mixtures and temporal variation, it is imperative to assess the biological impacts of pollution. All organisms leave traces of biological material behind. For example, within the aquatic environment, there is a rich source of biological material originating from living microbial cells, deposited scales/skin, mucous, gametes and faeces/urine, as well as decaying biomass. Using non-destructive water sampling, we can use sensitive molecular techniques to analyse the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) that are present and originate from different organisms. This technique (collectively known as environmental nucleic acid analysis; eNA) can be especially useful for identifying rare, shy or hard-to-identify organisms that are difficult to spot by traditional surveying methods. I will discuss the potential of using eNA techniques to assess ecological impacts of pollution. I will highlight a recent case study where we have used eDNA to survey the impacts of heavy metal pollution on ecological assemblages across four neighbouring river catchments in Cornwall and discuss similar applications in Wales. Our initial findings indicate distinct community changes associated with contamination for all taxonomic groups that we targeted (including bacteria, fungi, algae, invertebrate and vertebrate animals).

Sandra Esteves

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