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Water/Environment PhD Opportunity available at Abertay University, funded by Hydro Nation
Development of Effective Guidelines and Communication Tools for the Protection of Rural Private Water Supplies from Sources of Pollution

Development of Effective Guidelines and Communication Tools for the Protection of Rural Private Water Supplies from Sources of Pollution

Project Description

Overview/Background 
Many rural communities across the world rely on local/private water supplies that are often contaminated by agricultural and sewage sources. This creates a serious threat to human health. This problem is widespread not only in developing countries, but also in the more rural parts of the developed world. For example, the Republic of Ireland was recently prosecuted by the European Court of Justice in relation to the potential impact of onsite wastewater treatment systems on waterbodies used for water supply. A similar situation exists in rural areas of Scotland, where approximately three percent of Scotland’s population receive water from about 18,000 private supplies. The available data suggests that rural pollution from sources such as onsite wastewater treatment systems is adversely affecting the quality of rural water supplies. To address the conflict between rural land use, the management of wastewater discharges, and the protection of rural water supplies, a better understanding of the transport and fate of pollutants within the natural environment 
and the technologies available to mitigate their effects is required. In addition, there is a need for new tools to enhance the communication of complex environmental information to assist stakeholders in assessing risk to rural water supplies. To achieve this, the study being proposed will assess the capabilities of current and innovative technological and nature-based solutions in ensuring the protection of the rural aquatic environment from possible anthropogenic sources of pollution. 

Aim and Objectives 
The overall aim of this project is to enable the development of effective guidelines and strategies for the protection 
of private water supplies from key point sources of rural pollution. 

The main objectives are: 
1. To identify key pressures on the quality of rural water supplies in Scotland and assess the potential cumulative impact of pollution from sources such as onsite wastewater treatment systems. 
2. To review and determine the capabilities of current onsite wastewater treatment technologies and their effectiveness in reducing pressures that adversely affect the quality of rural water supplies. 
3. To identify correlations between catchment characteristics and the performance of certain on-site treatment systems, and review any existing predictive models that can be used to describe these correlations.
4. To develop a technological selection matrix that can be used to evaluate risk and inform guidelines and strategies for the protection of rural water supply systems from onsite wastewater discharges.

Funding Notes

Hydro Nation is a Scottish Government funded partnership between CREW, James Hutton Institute and all Scottish Higher Education Institutes. Funding for this four year scholarship will be in line with the Research Councils UK doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. The studentship will be registered at Abertay University. 

Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Hydro Nation Scholarships are awarded on competitive merit, taking into account the academic ability of the applicant. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in March 2016. 

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