More frequent storms increased development, and improved environmental legislation all necessitate an enhanced understanding of mixing and transport in urban drainage systems. A number of projects are assessing how urban drainage structures (manholes, storage tanks, combined sewer overflows, ponds, and wetlands) influence these processes. Warwick Water undertakes research into aspects of water engineering, the environment, and sustainability. The group focuses on identifying and quantifying the fate of soluble pollutants and contaminated fine sediments within rivers, urban drainage systems, and the coastal environment.
Recent projects include work on the accumulation and dispersal of suspended solids in watercourses. Vehicles and highway maintenance activities produce a number of environmental contaminants which can enter watercourses during rainfall events. Field monitoring has quantified this load and investigated the effects of highway-derived contaminants over a number of years at field sites across the UK. Results have been linked directly to the impact on receiving water ecology. Laboratory and field-based studies have been performed to elucidate hyporheic exchanges and transient storage in rivers.
Projects have been conducted in both the nearshore and estuarine environments. The nearshore zone experiences pollutant loading through both the shoreline and seaward boundaries. From the seaward boundary, pollutant loading is transported landward towards surfzone wave activity, whilst from the shoreline boundary, run-off pollution, which can contain faecal indicator bacteria and human viruses, can drain into the surfzone. The effects of wave period, height, direction, and spectrum are all important.
The long-term aim of the research is to improve the knowledge of fundamental mixing processes, quantify their relative magnitude and enhance the predictive capacity of models describing the transport, mixing, and fate of pollutants and fine sediments within the water environment.