Wastewater Forum


Meeting 6th March 2014
This was the Forum’s 52nd meeting. Andrezj Nowosielski (Environment Agency) chaired the meeting, which was held in CIWEM’s Boardroom, John Street, London. Probably the last meeting held at John Street because CIWEM has moved to Saffron Hill.

Please note that for older reports some links will be to sites that are no longer active.

A roundup of members’ research included the following:

Simon Tait (Sheffield University) the department is starting 3 new projects:

An FP7 ITN project: QUICS - Quantifying Uncertainty in Integrated Catchment Studies is a 4-year project dealing mainly with water quality and also hydrology, sediments and nutrients but not bacteriology. There are 11 PhDs and 4 post-docs. In addition to Sheffield, the consortium includes Belgium (Aquafin), Bristol, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Portugal.

A 3-year, EPSRC funded study with Exeter of the interactions between above- and below-ground [grey] assets; it starts in October 2014.

Another EPSRC study is looking at dispersion in vegetated channels.

Oliver Grievson, Anglian Water

described a smart wastewater system as one where the network and treatment are instrumented properly and the data are used.

Anglian, Scottish and Severn Trent are investigationg Zaps technology, which measures COD, BOD and bacteriology – 65k per instrument. OG is compiling a compendium of smart water instruments (clean and dirty) for monitoring and controlling.

The Portuguese company TAP has reduced non-revenue water (leakage) in Lisbon to less than 8% from 25% in just 3 years by monitoring its network with its own Takadu lookalike; previously they had a programme of replacing 5% of the network per year, which was having little effect on reducing NRW.

People are talking about “Big Data” but don’t seem to be doing anything very constructive with it yet.

Viteous – smart water for Europe programme.

WaSCs are embarking on smart wastewater networks (flow and pressure measurement). SewerBatt sees cracks in partly filled pipes but not full ones. Temperature might work for detecting misconnections but probably not for infiltration.

Chris Chubb - Water Quality Regulation

The handbook that was a product of an EU-China project is at the printers. Initially 500 hardcopies plus electronic viewable on this site; sponsors welcome.

The cost of remote sensing e.g. for coastal monitoring and leak detection is reducing as drones become available and the cost of small satellites (5-10 kg) comes down to 100k.

Gordon Jones, FWR –

Revised ROCK - Cyanobacterial Toxins in the Water Environment FR/R0009.

Andrezj Nowosielski, EA –

The EA is responding to a 12% cut in its resources combined with reprioritisation following the floods. There has been reorganisation at the top, the regional tier will go and 18 or 20 Areas will report directly to HQ. Staff will be lost by voluntary retirement and severance, inevitably this will mean some loss of valuable expertise.

The EA’s R&D will be impacted.

Technical Presentations with members of CIWEM’s Wastewater Management Panel

Polishing effluents and recovering value with algae
Dr Daniel Murray, Director, Industrial Phycology

IP has approached algal bioreactor design with the objective of tertiary wastewater treatment for N and P removal, though it could evolve to secondary. Surplus algae will be a useful co-product that by selecting species could be protein-rich or lipid-rich for animal feed or energy respectively. The bioreactor uses pulsed LED light with wavelength and frequency optimised for the light and dark reactions of photosynthesis. CO2 could be from biogas combustion or upgrading. It is enclosed to minimise infection with unwanted strains of algae. The biomass concentration is much greater than open raceways and the land-take much less. The aim is to achieve P removal at half the cost of conventional bio-P.

Waste and Surface Water Measurement using a Microwave Meter
Phil Wood and Martin Croft, Dynamic Flow Technology and Vasiliki Koutsospyrou, Loughborough University

Waste Water Meter (WWM) is a collaboration between, Loughborough University, Elster Meters and Wessex Water. It has achieved accurate measurement of wastewater and surface water flows through pipes using an innovative microwave sensor array that is an external sensor, it is mains or battery powered and offers no obstruction inside the pipe. The device is also capable of identifying contaminants in the water by analysing the reflected spectrum. The meter holds the promise of being able to charge for wastewater based on the measured quantity instead of on the basis of the water supplied. This would enable true application of the “polluter pays” principle, which in turn could incentivise on-site rainwater management as Philadelphia is doing amongst its suite of surface water innovations.

Crowdsourcing priorities for urban water pollution measures
Tom Bradbury, Defra

This interesting idea was based on Sir Francis Galton’s classic wisdom-of-the-crowds statistical experiment in 1906 when visiting a livestock fair in Plymouth. Visitors were invited to guess the weight (after slaughter and dressing) of an ox that was on display. Nearly 800 participated, but not one person hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Galton stated that "the middlemost estimate expresses the vox populi, every other estimate being condemned as too low or too high by a majority of the voters", and calculated this value (in modern terminology, the median) as 1,207 pounds. To his surprise, this was within 0.8% of the weight measured by the judges. Soon afterwards, he acknowledged that the mean of the guesses, at 1,197 pounds, was even more accurate. The EA was disproportionately represented in the 150 respondents to Tom’s surverymonkey questionnaire so the population represented by the results might have differed from the wisdom of the whole wastewater crowd. [One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. Plato]

The next meeting of the Forum will be Wednesday, 9th July 2014