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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R019258/1
Title: SALINA- SALine INntrusion in coastal Aquifers: Hydrodynamic Assessment and Prediction of Dynamic Response.
Principal Investigator: Hamill, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Flynn, Dr RM Ruffell, Dr A Ahmed, Dr A
Donohue, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
British Geological Survey Golder Associates (International) Ministry of Defence (MOD)
Southern Water
Department: Sch of Natural and Built Environment
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2018 Ends: 30 June 2021 Value (£): 1,098,863
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Coastal & Waterway Engineering Ground Engineering
Water Engineering
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 December 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The world's population likes living by the sea. Currently approximately 53% of us live on the 10% of the earth's surface that is within 200km of the coast; this is forecast to rise to 75% by 2050. This increased concentration of people in restricted areas will place greater stress on natural resources including water supplies. These resources must be used in a judicious manner if we are to live within our means. Meeting the needs for providing potable water to 75% of humanity from such a limited resource forms a major global challenge facing society in the 21st Century.

Groundwater has been recognised for some time for its capacity to provide good quality water, particularity in places where other water sources have either poor quality, requiring expensive (and environmentally unfriendly) treatment technologies, or are unavailable. However, it needs to be used cautiously. Over-pumping of coastal aquifers can lead to seawater contaminating groundwater supplies, thereby destroying otherwise valuable resources. Contamination by even 1% salt water can be enough to render freshwater unfit for use. This issue is of concern in the UK, where saline intrusion (SI) can affect the quality of water used for human consumption, as well as for industrial purposes (process water and irrigation). Further afield, this matter is of pressing concern across Europe, particularly in Mediterranean countries, as well as in other water-stressed arid and semi-arid regions of the planet where use of desalinisation technologies may not be viable over the long term.

The UK Water Research and Innovation Partnership has highlighted weaknesses in the UK water industry that could prevent it from maintaining its position against increasing external competition. In order to develop a 10% Global market share, worth $8.8 billion, the UK needs to invest in water research to maintain its competitive edge. The partnership has identified opportunities for developing innovative water technologies in 21 areas, where it believes that the UK can compete on the world stage. Developing these technologies requires a firm scientific underpinning. This proposal addresses developing expertise in the area of SI using accurate monitoring, prediction and control systems. Findings will underpin protocols that will increase the effectiveness of sustainable water infrastructure management through demand management tools.

The proposal's multidisciplinary research team from Queen's University Belfast and Imperial College London brings together expertise in the areas of experimental hydrodynamics, process engineering, numerical simulation, computational fluid dynamics, field hydro-geology and geophysics; this is further strengthened through active involvement of the British Geological Survey. The integration of experimentation with testing and monitoring in real world environments, along with improved numerical simulation that will lead to the development of an early warning system for salt water breakthrough to provide a sustainable managed approach for water abstraction in coastal areas.

Understanding the movement of seawater and freshwater within coastal aquifers, and the interactions that take place under naturally complex ground conditions, provides the key to unlocking suitable approaches for designing and maintaining effective water management systems needed to meet the ever growing demand for high quality freshwater in coastal areas. Our vision is to create a novel system capable of providing early warning of salt water intrusion within groundwater wells. This advance notification, of up to 8 days, will allow actions to be taken in advance of contamination occurring. A dynamic model, which will further help with the understanding of the transient processes that govern SI movement under real world conditions, will provide a novel practical management suite of tools for water suppliers and environmental regulators.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk