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Experts warn that climate change, increasing populations are threatening the resilience of UK wastewater infrastructure


Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have examined the dynamic changes in the resilience of UK wastewater treatment works, now known as Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs), and discovered that environmental stressors are increasing the potential for pollution events.

WRRFs play a vital role in our day-to-day lives by producing clean water , removing nutrients, generating renewable energy , and extracting other valuable bio-based materials from wastewaters. These systems have been engineered to withstand process upsets or disturbances to an extent, but a new study suggests climate change and population growth is putting them under extreme stress .

The collaborative project with Southern Water and Thames Water was the first to use instrument data from operational and compliance monitoring to track real-life stressors and their influence on WRRFs. It found dynamic stressors, including higher rainfall intensity and extended dry periods, could be linked to each event. This also echoes the future challenges noted in the latest IPCC report , which states with high confidence that extreme weather linked to climate change will cause damage to infrastructure.

To avoid damaging pollution incidents, the team behind the study says it is crucial to understand how stressors manifest, leading to dramatic […]

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