Water & Flooding

Water Quality & Availability

The risk of water pollution is increasing due to changes in land use patterns and the intensity and episodic duration of rainfall (including drought). To provide drinking water, treatment is applied to remove unwanted pollutants, but this is costly and sometimes serious problems occur. Lakes and rivers also have a high amenity value and therefore it makes good sense from multiple perspectives that the basic quality of our water resources are good. Less treatment can mean significant savings for energy and carbon emissions.

Through a collaborative project with Scottish Water and the Scottish Government HydroNation programme, we have been developing a risk assessment procedure for raw water quality. This aims to identify catchments at increased risk of water quality problems at present and in future. Research is being developed through the PhD project of Carolin Vorstius at Dundee University. Water quality problems being investigated include colour issues (dissolved organic carbon), E Coli and other coliforms, heavy metals, pH and turbidity. Recent work has also further investigated challenges of emerging contaminants (especially PFAS) on water quality and of managing water scarcity in a changing climate

Vorstius C, Rowan J, Brown I, Halliday S, Hendry S (2024) Risk assessment for PFAS and watch list parameters in the Drinking Water Directive. Report for the Centre of Expertise in Water (Scotland). https://www.crew.ac.uk/publication/risk-assessment-watch-list-PFAS

Gosling R, Halliday S, Brown I, Black A, Hendry S (2024) Water Scarcity and Climate Change in Scotland. Report for the Centre of Expertise for Water (Scotland). https://www.crew.ac.uk/project/crw202207-climate-crisis-informing-scotland%E2%80%99s-actionable-mitigation-and-adaptation-response

Vorstius C, Rowan J, Brown I, Frogbrook Z, Palarea-Albaladejo J (2019) Large-scale risk screening of raw water quality in the context of drinking water catchments and integrated response strategies. Environmental Science & Policy doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2019.05.012

Dunn, S.M.; Brown, I.; Sample, J.; Post, H. (2012) Relationships between climate, water resources, land use and diffuse pollution and the significance of uncertainty in climate change. Journal of Hydrology, 434, 19-35. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.02.039

Natural Flood Management

For several years, I have been collaborating on projects to further investigate Natural Flood Management strategies as an alternative or complement to conventional engineering of flood defences. Again this is another key issue where the increased risk of heavy rainfall events from climate change makes new approaches necessary. We have been especially interested in integrated catchment-scale schemes such as the strategic use of new woodland or schemes to maximise the use of river floodplains. A PhD project through Oana Iacob at Dundee University developed a detailed modelling analysis for peak river flows based upon land use change and climate change.

Iacob, O, Rowan, JS, Brown, I, Ellis, C (2014) Evaluating wider benefits of natural flood management strategies: an ecosystem-based adaptation perspective. Hydrology Research,45(6), 774– 787 doi:10.2166/nh.2014.184

Iacob O, Brown I, Rowan J (2017) Natural flood management, land use and climate change -offs: the case of Tarland catchment, Scotland. Hydrological Sciences Journal 62, 1931-1948 doi:10.1080/02626667.2017.1366657