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University of Sheffield PhD opportunity

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Integrating climate risk to reservoir water quality into water infrastructure planning

This PhD offers a world-class environment and highly competitive compensation (see funding). It is ideally suited to a motivated individual with a strong quantitative background, who is keen to develop a range of advanced technical and transferable skills that are highly sought after both in industry and academia.

The project will be conducted in close collaboration with the forward-thinking Water Resources team at Anglian Water, a water company serving over 6 million people in the East of England. It features placements at Anglian Water totaling three months and a half, where the successful candidate will familiarise themselves with different aspect of water infrastructure adaptation to climate change. They will benefit from extensive training opportunities both at the University of Sheffield and at Anglian Water and will have regular interactions with both academics and practitioners to develop excellent research grounded in real-world applications.

The research will advance water infrastructure planning models and techniques by tackling an emerging threat to water supply: harmful algal blooms in strategic water supply reservoirs. They make water treatment difficult or even impossible and prevent recreational use of the water. They are more likely to appear in warm and shallow water, generally the double result of hot weather and drought-related pressures on supply. This means that reservoirs’ water may not be accessible when it is most needed: during hot, dry summers. Climate change is expected to increase the severity and frequency of summer heatwaves and droughts. This will make the problem worse, but the consequences for the ability of reservoirs to ensure a reliable water supply have yet to be quantified. This knowledge gap has crucial implications for drought-resilient planning.

This project aims to address this gap by integrating water quality modelling into advanced decision-making frameworks for water resource planning. The work will quantify climate risk to reservoir water quality in a context of uncertainty in future water demands (withdrawals from reservoirs) and environmental regulation (abstractions from rivers into reservoirs). It will also propose operational strategies to minimise this risk. Results will directly inform water planning and billion-pound investment decisions, enhancing long-term drought resilience.

Funding

This is a full-time, fully-funded four-year PhD project, with expectation of thesis submission within the funded period. The successful applicant will receive a tuition fee waiver and a stipend of £19,359 per year over four years (note that since this is tax-free, this is equivalent to a nearly £30k salary in industry).

Please contact Dr Charles Rougé (c.rouge@sheffield.ac.uk) or Dr Isabel Douterelo Soler (i.douterelo@sheffield.ac.uk) for informal inquiries

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