Adapting to Change: Considerations for Water Recycling and Desalination to Address Future Water Supply Challenges in the UK

25th and 26th February 2020
The Old Courtroom, Brighton, UK
(118 Church St, Brighton BN1 1UD)


Old Courtroom lecture hall

The Old Courtoom


The world population of 7 billion is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. To meet potable water supply and other urban demands (e.g. landscape irrigation, commercial, and industrial needs), there must be a paradigm shift in our approach to water resources management. Population increases and a dependency on high-water-demand agriculture which are coupled with urbanisation are affecting land use changes that exacerbate water supply challenges. Likewise, sea level rise and increasing intensity and variability of local climate patterns are predicted to alter hydrologic and ecosystem dynamics and composition.

The United Kingdom (UK) with its high population density and in particular the South East of England are clear examples of the challenges described above. Increasing population and as a consequence increasing water demand has led to water resources under some scenarios being over committed. Consequently, the South East of England is not only one of the most water scarce regions in the UK but also Northern Europe. A recent legally binding agreement (Section 20) attempts to balance environmental management and water abstraction on critical surface water sources in Hampshire. The impact being that in periods of severe drought non-traditional sources of water are likely required.

The consequence of utilising alternative water sources is that additional advanced treatment is generally required. As the UK has a legal requirement to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050 a paradigm shift in water resource management is required to meet both increased water supply and decreased emissions. As such this conference will consider the potential for desalination and water recycling technologies and their implementation in the UK, using the South East of England as a case study to augment water resources whilst minimising emissions. International speakers will bring a wealth of experience from across the globe to consider the application of these processes for wider application in the UK. The social, technical and practical aspects of indirect and direct water recycling and desalination technologies will be reviewed as potential alternative or complementary solutions to the future water scarcity challenge.

Conference Schedule

Royal Pavilion

Day 1 – 25th February 2020
08:00 – 08:45 Registration (Coffee and Pastries Provided)
08:45 – 09:00 Welcome
Theme 1: A Global Challenge from a Local Perspective
09:00 – 09:30 Keynote Presentation
09:30 – 10:00 Southern Water’s Water Demand Challenge:Ian McAulay (Southern Water, UK)
10:00 – 10:30 An Introduction and Overview to Water Recycling: Melanie Holmer (Brown and Caldwell, USA)
10:30 – 11:15 Coffee Break
Theme 2: Global Perspectives on Water Recycling Augmentation and Regulation
11:15 – 11:40 United States Experience and Perspective to Risk Regulation and Technology: Allegra Da Silva (Brown and Caldwell, USA)
11:40 – 12:05 Australian Experience and Perspective to Risk Regulation and Technology: Stuart Khan (University of New South Wales, Australia)
12:05 – 12:30 The WHO Guidance and Perspective Towards Water Recycling Approaches: Stuart Khan (University of New South Wales, Australia)
12:30 – 14:00 Lunch  Please Follow Directions to Al Duomo (7 Pavilion Buildings Brighton BN1 1EE)
Theme 3: Risk Based Approaches and Development of Critical Information
14:00 – 14:30 Funding, Regulation and Risk and within the UK: Speaker TBC ( OFWAT, UK )
14:30 – 15:00 The UK Perspective to Risk: Current and Future Considerations (PCCP and AOP DBPs): Speaker TBC (Water Research Centre, UK)
15:00 – 15:30 Bench Scale to Full Scale: Approaches to Data Collection: Ian Mayor-Smith (University of Brighton, UK)
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break
Theme 4: Technology Considerations: Selection and Verification
16:00 – 16:45 Membrane Applications and Limitations: Graeme Pearce (Membrane Consultancy Associates, UK)
16:45 – 17:15 Full Advanced Treatment (FAT): Advanced Oxidation Processes the benefits and Challenges: Ronald Hofmann (University of Toronto, Canada)
17:15 – 17:45 Technology Assessment for the Western Grid: Varsha Wylie (Southern Water, UK)
17:45 – 17:55 Final Remarks: Ian Mayor-Smith (University of Brighton, UK)
18:30 – 20:00 Networking and Nibbles (Pavilion Kitchen + Royal Pavilion Tour)
20:00 – Late Dinner (The Royal Pavilion Banqueting Room) Tickets Required
Day 2 – 26th February 2020
08:30 – 09:00 Registration (Coffee and Pastries Provided)
Theme 5: The role of technology in our current and future experience
09:00 – 09:30

Keynote Presentation: Art Umble (Stantec, USA)

09:30 – 10:00 The Future of Water Resources Management: Meyrick Gough (Water Resources in the South East, UK)
10:00-10:40 Desalination’s Current and Future Place within the UK: Graham Bateman (Southern Water, UK) and Thames Water (TBC, UK)
10:40 – 11:15 Coffee Break
Theme 6: Treatment Optimisation and Future Technologies
11:15 – 11:40 Alternative Water Recycling Treatment Trains: Kati Bell (Brown and Caldwell, USA)
11:40 – 12:05 Innovative Alternatives for Enhanced Recovery of NF/RO Systems:  Brent Alspach (Arcaidis, USA)
12:05 – 12:30 Developing a Chemical-Free AOP for the Removal of Micropollutants from Water and Wastewater: Domenico Santoro
12:30 – 12:55 Alternative Methods to Ozone Generation: Achim Ried (Xylem, Germany)
12:55 – 13:45 Panel Discussion

Conference Concludes

Note: Speaker Bios available shortly

Register to attend by clicking on the link here

EARLY BIRD  pricing applies until January 2020

early bird

SPONSORSHIP Opportunities:

If you would like to sponsor any of the following events please contact Suzy Armsden e-mail

Morning coffee break


Afternoon break

Networking reception

Conference dinner

In Partnership with:

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Special conference rates have been negotiated please click here

Helping Isaac Find His Apple: Promoting the University of Brighton’s WetlandLIFE project at the Royal Society, London

This week, on the 28th and 29th October 2019, the final Valuing Nature (VN) Programme Conference took place at the Royal Society in London, under the watchful gaze of Sir Isaac Newton (see picture below). The VN Programme, supported by a consortia of UK Research Councils including the AHRC, ESRC and NERC, funded seven research projects orientated around two research enquiries; the impacts of potential ecological tipping points for natural resources within the UK and the importance of nature for human health and wellbeing for British citizens. The University of Brighton was involved in the latter research area, human health and wellbeing, through their involvement within the WetlandLIFE project which is drawing to an end in January 2020.

Dr Mary Gearey and Sir Isaac Newton

Dr Mary Gearey, senior lecturer in Human Geography and board member of the university’s Centre for Aquatic Environments, led the empirical research working closely with Professor Andrew Church and Professor Neil Ravenscroft, now based at the Royal Agricultural University. Their work has been orientated around social science fieldwork to understand how specialist interest groups, including birders, botanists, walkers and spiritual practitioners, use, value and enjoy wetlands as part of their recreational activities, their income generating work, and as a fundamental part of their life. Developed through one to one interviews, collaborative focus group discussions and an immersion into the wetland situated work of the respondents, the outcomes of the research team’s work has been channelled into forthcoming book English wetlands; spaces of nature, culture, imagination to be published in 2020 by Palgrave Macmillan.

The Brighton team, presented their findings at the final VN conference alongside their fellow WetlandLIFERs. Key discussion points included the importance of wetlands for green infrastructure, for underpinning nature based solutions to climate change adaptation strategies and, fundamentally, to support the ‘3D’ of human health and wellbeing; physical, mental and social revitalisation and replenishment. The WetlandLIFE team have always aimed to incorporate a collaborative and truly interdisciplinary approach to research as part of their modus operandi – as illustrated by one of our project artist’s installations at the VN event. Creative writer and lecturer Victoria Leslie enabled a pop up ‘word hide’, a wetland bird hide in which people can visit to read, think and write as well as undertake in-situ ornithological contemplations (see picture below). Victoria Leslie’s The word hide

It seemed pertinent that the ‘word hide’ and our discussions with colleagues concerning wetlands and humans, took place under the watchful gaze of one of Britain’s most eminent natural scientists and scholars, Sir Isaac Newton. His quizzical look, as if he was still searching for his apple of inspiration, was a great reminder that connective thoughts and startling insights can happen in any place and at any time; and this is most certainly true of our discoveries in wetlands for WetlandLIFE. As a team we continue to be dedicated to sharing our insights, through multiple platforms and in multiple ways, with others both within and across the research community.

Some of the WetlandLIFERs deep in conversation at the VN Conference at the Royal Society

Climate, Oceans and Coastal Communities Conference

This hugely successful conference was organised by the Centre for Aquatic Environments (University of Brighton), United Nations Association (London and South East), and the Sussex Wildlife Trust, attracting over 150 delegates to the University’s Moulsecoomb campus on the 10th of October.  Among the attendees at the conference were academics, researchers, politicians, students, consultants, and representatives from numerous environmental agencies.

The conference was opened by Professor Chris Joyce, Director of the Centre for Aquatic Environments, before the Rt. Hon. Stephen Lloyd MP gave his personal account of why the marine environment is such a critical issue for his coastal constituency.

Professor Andrew Church was the first keynote speaker and made a compelling case for maintaining and restoring nature and its contribution to people, integrating land and ocean management to conserve biodiversity. He reported that one million species may be threatened with extinction and stressed that “challenges related to climate change, nature deterioration and achieving a good quality of life for all are interconnected”.

Dr. Corina Ciocan then presented a short film telling the story of a University-funded Ignite project about microplastic pollution in Chichester Harbour, and highlighted the role of the wider community working in collaboration with scientists in tackling environmental problems. Dr. Ciocan said of the project: Working in partnership with the local community meant that we had access to much more detailed historical data on water quality and environmental change”.

Next, Sir David Attenborough made an appearance!  At least, he narrated the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s beautiful and fascinating film, introduced by Sarah Ward, on the kelp forests of Sussex.  These have almost disappeared due to intensive fishing practices and other human impacts but there are plans afoot to hopefully restore them back to former glories.

The second keynote presentation was given by Dr Adriana Ford who emphasized the importance of the oceans for their environmental services and the so-called Blue Economy, which she stressed was not just about fisheries and shipping and tourism, but was also about resilience, carbon storage and other environmental benefits.  She described some gloomy predictions for the future when considering climate change impacts but pointed out that the oceans also represented solutions to climate change, ending her talk on an optimistic note.

The conference concluded with a diverse panel discussion comprising the speakers and selected guests, including such topics as how children and young people interact with climate change, what land use change we can make to improve the oceans, and how local authorities can help enhance the environment, were explored with the audience.


In conclusion, a wide-ranging set of topics were discussed at this thought-provoking conference, including economic and social consequences of global warming, the state of ocean biodiversity and ecosystem services, rewilding marine habitats to mitigate climate change, and harvesting indigenous and local knowledge to strengthen the University-community partnership.  The take home message, however, was that people must offer solutions and not just present the problems.

Photos Sam Roberts / Sussex Wildlife Trust.



Water and Sanitation Science Unites









Former SET PhD students from Africa (Dr Olalemi), South America (Drs Dias & Peres) and Europe (Drs da Silva and Ebdon) reunited in the Austrian capital Vienna to present their water and sanitation research at the 20th International Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology (15-20 Sept 2019). The researchers, who were (or still are) all part of the university’s Environment and Public Health Research and Enterprise Group (EPHREG) presented on diverse themes including: drinking water protection in rural Brazil, rotavirus presence in Nigerian surface waters, disease transmission in Indian slums, childhood diarrhoea prevention in rural Kenya; and seasonal variation of viruses in UK wastewater. The event hosted by the International Water Association (IWA) brought together 300+ leading researchers, policy makers, water practitioners, engineers, from academia, industry, water utilities, and public authorities from around the world to exchange the latest scientific findings, experience and knowhow. The reunion of EPHREG researchers working in the field of water and sanitation was made possible due to the generosity of the Professor Huw Taylor Memorial Fund.

Cannot take Scotland out of the boy…

… even if you take the boy out of Scotland. Scotland is a river geomorphologist’s playground. From the steep streams of the Highlands to the flood plains of Dumfries and to the large catchments of the Central belt and the north, Scottish rivers are diverse, active and of great ecological and socio-economic importance. Dr Georgios Maniatis was supported by a CAE Research Activities fund, to visit several Scottish riverine environments that are actively studied. Georgios was joined by Dr Luca Mao (University of Lincoln) throughout this trip, as the main scope was to discuss on new and extend existing research collaborations. The first visit was to river Feshie (Cairngorms National Park); a beautiful braided river that is been monitored intensively for the last five years by the University of Glasgow (research led by Dr Richard Williams). Dr Williams also accommodated Georgios’ and Luca’s visit, giving them the chance to explore the areas around Aviemore and Kingussie (and the Spey catchment in general).

From Feshie, Georgios and Lucas drove south stopping at different sites along A9, including the impressive bedrock outcrop of River Garry and the very diverse and River Tay. There, Luca identified sites where he can establish his advanced sediment transport sensors towards a cross comparison with the smart pebble sensors studied and developed by Georgios. The end of the trip found Georgios and Lucas in the flat floodplains of Moffatt. Georgios collaborates with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency for the monitoring of a reach (River Moffat) that has bridged and is scheduled to be managed in the coming months. The Moffatt project is also supported by a Rising Stars fund, awarded to Georgios this year.


Figure 1 The mighty Feshie

Figure 2 Dr Mao (Feshie)


Figure 3 The amazing outcrops of River Garry

Figure 4 Dr Maniatis (left) with Dr Roberto Martinez (SEPA, middle) and his family (little Noa and Miriam). Moffat


Microplastics in Freshwater Environments

Over the summer, second year undergraduate student Pieter Fourier will be working alongside Dr Annie Ockelford and Dr James Ebdon as part of the Santander University Research Scheme.  Thanks to generous funding provided by Santander Universities and the Centre for Aquatic Environments, the scheme provides an opportunity for undergraduate students in the middle years of their degree to contribute to real research projects alongside academic researchers at the university.

Rivers are key vectors in the transportation of microplastics from terrestrial environments into marine environments.  As such, it is important to understand what factors are actively altering the behaviour and subsequent movement of microplastics within freshwater systems. Previous work has shown that growth of bacteria called biofilms alter river dynamics since they grow over sediments forming a cohesive, organic mat that binds sediments together. This posed the question as to whether or not the exact same processes will alter microplastic dynamics within river systems. Pieter’s project will run for six weeks and will quantify the extent to which biological factors in rivers influence the behaviour of sediment and microplastics.


The first phase of the project will focus on collecting naturally occurring biofilms by placing a series of bricks in a river for the biofilms to grow on. Once the bricks have been colonized they will be extracted and placed into an incubation flume to grow over different grain sizes of sediment which Pieter will then test. The biofilms will be allowed to grow for up to four weeks.  After defined growth periods they will be transported to an experimenting flume in which they will be subjected to different flow rates to test how strong they are and assess how they affect sediment transport rates and microplastic movement.

Climate, Oceans and Coastal Communities Conference (FREE event)

Thursday 10th October 2019 – 17.30 hours to 20.30 hours – Huxley Foyer and H300

Organised by: United Nations Association (London and South East), Centre for Aquatic Environments (University of Brighton) and Sussex Wildlife Trust 






The Paris Agreement, convened by the United Nations, marked a decisive global and historic event by calling for all governments to keep global temperature rise as close as possible to 1.5 C and therefore calling for a drastic reduction of greenhouse emissions.   However, global warming and Climate Change keep having disastrous consequences around the World and more is needed, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  In October 2018 the IPCC released a special report that highlighted the importance of limiting global warming to 1.5 C in order to prevent some of the worst-case scenarios.  The report was clear that greenhouse gas emissions need to come down by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach zero emissions by 2050 to keep the crucial target.


This important Conference on Climate, Oceans and Coastal Communities aims to help understanding the environmental, economic and social consequences of global warming and climate change among coastal communities, at global and local level. We will have experts in the fields of the Environment, Social Sciences and Economics, providing analysis, sharing their perspectives and offering crucial potential solutions, encompassing a holistic approach to climate action. The Programme will allow for the audience to raise questions to the Panellists in order to engage with the different topics.


We will aim to strengthen existing and new Climate Action Networks, enabling potential coordinated regional actions in our Coastal Communities.


The Conference will also include a networking session, wine and nibbles.


17.30 Registration and networking – Huxley Foyer
18.00 Opening of Conference –Professor Chris Joyce & Rt. Hon Stephen   Lloyd MP – Huxley 300
18.10 Keynote speaker: Professor Andrew Church – Huxley 300 “How We Damage Nature and What We Might Do About It”
18.30 Film – Dr Corina Ciocan – “Microplastics in Chichester Harbour” – Huxley 300
18.45 Networking and nibbles – Huxley Foyer
19.25 Film – Sarah Ward – Sussex Wildlife Trust  – “Help Our Kelp” – Huxley 300

Keynote speaker: Dr Adriana Ford – Huxley 300

“Climate Change – the Consequences for the Blue Economy”

19.55 Panel discussion – Huxley 300 – Panellists : Andrew Church, Stephen Lloyd, Corina Ciocan, Adriana Ford, Tim Coxon
20.30 End of conference

Keynote Speakers:




Professor Andrew Church, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise)
University of Brighton

Professor Andrew Church is the Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Brighton. He is also Professor of Human Geography focusing on human-nature relations and especially water and cultural ecosystem services. Andrew works on international collaborative research projects and was a Coordinating Lead Author on the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

“How we damage nature and what we might do about it”

Since 2000 a number of major assessments of the state of the global environment have been undertaken by The United Nations. The latest assessment has focused on identifying recent changes in biodiversity and has revealed some major declines in a whole range of marine and terrestrial species. Climate change has been at the heart of these assessments that reveal how society is dependent on the benefits we get from nature whilst at the same time human activity is rapidly degrading key parts of the natural environment on which we depend. This lecture will outline the findings of the latest UN assessments completed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in 2018 and 2019. It will consider what politicians, business and all of us might do to limit the damaging impacts of human society on nature.



Dr Adriana Ford
Centre Manager, Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society
Imperial College London/King’s College London


Adriana is an interdisciplinary environmental scientist and project manager who has worked on a variety of environmental issues, including fisheries and coastal communities, wetlands, invasive species, ecosystem services, environment and health, and community-based environmental management. In 2019 she joined Imperial College and King’s College to manage their new wildfires research centre. Prior to this, Adriana was coordinator of the Greenwich Maritime Centre at the University of Greenwich, and worked with Natural England and the Marine Conservation Society on the Living Coast project. She maintains a strong interest in marine social sciences and is on the committee of the RGS Coastal and Marine Research Group.

“Climate Change, the consequences for the Blue Economy ”

Dr Ford will discuss the above as her keynote presentation.

Stephen Anthony Christopher Lloyd

Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne & Willingdon; was born and brought up in Mombasa, Kenya. He was in business for over 25 years before entering politics. Elected as the Member of Parliament in 2010, narrowly losing his seat by 1.5% in 2015, and then re-elected in 2017, Stephen is known to be a very hard-working local MP who puts his constituency before party politics. Campaigns over the years have included helping secure £85m private money for the Arndale shopping centre regeneration, being the first MP to launch the 100 apprentices in 100 days initiative, playing a leading role in protecting services at the local hospital, persuading the Morrisons supermarket chain to recruit a significant percentage of its 350 new staff from people who had been long-term unemployed. Such a successful model the group have continued to do this ever since!
Stephen leads campaigns in parliament to bring down the age of bowel cancer screening, to implement a police Royal Commission and secure from the finance sector easier accessible interest-only mortgages for people in their 70’s. Like many issues these were first brought to his attention locally and he’s successfully taken them up to parliament to ensure a national outcome. His experience in parliament and focus on cross-party working ensures a level of success which has been recognised by the media. The Independent newspaper said of Stephen “a political system that can produce elected representatives like this may well be as good as it gets.”

Dr Tim Coxon, Principal Lecturer, University of Brighton

Tim Coxon is a principal lecturer in the School of Education working with undergraduate trainee teachers and students studying the subject of education. A teacher and education advisor for 20 years in the UK and overseas, Tim joined the university in 2010 working in areas such as international education and global citizenship. Inspired by other teachers who had achieved accreditation from the United Nations Climate Change Teacher Academy, Tim embarked on the training over the summer with the twin aims of developing his understanding of the impact of climate change on children and young people and a wish to contribute to bringing climate change education to the classroom








Tim Coxon is a principal lecturer in the School of Education working with undergraduate trainee teachers and students studying the subject of education. A teacher and education advisor for 20 years in the UK and overseas, Tim joined the university in 2010 working in areas such as international education and global citizenship. Inspired by other teachers who had achieved accreditation from the United Nations Climate Change Teacher Academy, Tim embarked on the training over the summer with the twin aims of developing his understanding of the impact of climate change on children and young people and a wish to contribute to bringing climate change education to the classroom




We are very pleased that RS Aqua have agreed to sponsor our conference.   If you would like to become a sponsor please e-mail for further details.

Please register to attend the conference here

Multidisciplinary FIELD workshops


Had an amazing time in Aljezur, at FIELD workshop, working on a comprehensive database for field exercises, an active network of people interested in field work and a flowchart to help course leaders to set up (or improve) their field course. I would encourage PhD students and early career researchers, who are participating in field courses, to register for the next round from Sept 2019 to March 2020. Take a look at the details below and come and have a chat with me if interested!  Corina