PhD: Understanding the Fate of Metals, Organics and the Role of Service Reservoirs in Delivering High Quality Drinking Water (1 Post Hydraulics Focus, 1 Post Water Quality Focus)

University of Sheffield - Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Name: Dr Vanessa Speight
Department: Civil & Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield

Funding status

Directly Funded Project (UK/EU Students Only)

Application deadline

Applications will be considered as they are received, up to 1 July 2017

Overview project description

Co-sponsored by a consortium of UK Water Companies and EPSRC, this 3.5-year project includes a tax-free stipend of £19,000 p.a. plus support for training, conferences, and related travel.

This project represents a unique opportunity to research the fundamentals of water quality in drinking water distribution systems from source to tap using an unprecedented dataset spanning multiple water companies and system configurations. The research seeks to understand the fate and transport of key water quality constituents including iron, manganese, aluminium, and organic carbon to provide evidence for the economic balance between catchment, treatment and network interventions for water quality improvement. This research will also deliver a unique understanding of the role that service reservoirs play in the source-to-tap fate and transport of metals and organics, allowing for optimisation of their performance and maintenance regimes. 

2 PhD positions are available on this project. This position, with a water quality focus, will involve extensive collection and analysis of field data for a number of case study locations from each of the participating water companies. Sampling to profile systems will be performed, following water from source through treatment and service reservoir(s) and into the distribution system.  The complementary PhD position will focus on hydraulics from source to tap and their influence on water quality. Please can applicants state which post they are interested in when applying.

Applicants should have a first or second class honours degree in engineering, microbiology or chemistry, ideally with an understanding of drinking water quality and data analysis skills. The applicant should have good communication skills for interaction with industry partners, be self-motivated, and be interested in innovation for the water industry to make a positive impact on this important public health service.

The successful candidate will be joining a vibrant water research group within the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, as well as becoming a member of the Sheffield Water Centre, which has more than 200 interdisciplinary researchers working across faculties on water-related research. This position provides significant opportunities for scientific advances as well as industrial innovation through the direct interaction with water companies.

Funding notes

Due to funding this PhD is available to UK or EU applicants only. Start date 1 October 2017.

Shortlisting will take place as applications are received and applicants will be notified promptly. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place at the University of Sheffield or via webmeeting.


Learn more about water research at the University of Sheffield at

Application enquiries

Name: Dr Vanessa Speight
Phone: 0114 222 0259

Subject area

  • Civil Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Chemical engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Microbiology
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