Water, Environment and Communities

The Water, Environment and Communities Research Group undertakes applied research on a range of contemporary themes relating to water and the environment reflecting the diversity and interdisciplinary nature of issues concerning the development of resilient communities.

Water and communities large

This is delivered through a portfolio of applied interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange, education, community engagement and advice for decision makers and policy makers at all levels. The Group's work embraces and integrates local, national and international perspectives on water, focusing on environmental challenges towards sustaining resilient communities.

Areas of activity

Water science and technology

Focusing on the application of advanced technical and analytical tools to address a range of complex challenges facing the water industry and concerned with improving the quality, supply and management of water with a focus on the areas of activity listed below.

  • Hydraulics and fluid dynamics
  • Modelling and control
  • Structures and materials
  • Water distribution and engineering
Water Resource Management

Globally, the occurrence of floods is the most frequent among all of natural disasters. In 2010 alone, 178 million people were affected by floods. The total losses in exceptional years such as 1998 and 2010 exceeded $40 billion. The Environment Agency estimates a total of 5.2 million properties in England and Wales, or one in six homes, are at risk of flooding. This sub-group focusses on the development of contemporary approaches towards improving resilience to flooding with a focus on property level responses and adaptations. Storm water runoff, agricultural runoff, mine drainage, industrial by-products runoff, typically contain and transport a wide range of pollutants, resulting in negative environmental effects with potential threats to ecosystems and health. Hundreds of runoff treatment ponds and constructed wetlands (CWs) intended to moderate these impacts are likely to be delivering sub‐optimal (and perhaps actually below legally required) levels of improvement in water quality due to poor understanding of flow patterns, hydraulic design parameters and the effects of vegetation. At the same time there is an increasing push to consider natural approaches to reducing flood risk.

  • Flood risk management through the use of sustainable drainage systems (e.g. permeable pavements and constructed wetlands)
  • Residence time distributions for urban drainage structures
  • Tracer studies to quantify pollutant transport and mixing processes in rivers, ponds and constructed wetlands
  • Water quality testing and analysis
  • Resilience and adaptation
Water Policy and Governance

This sub-group focuses on the development and implementation of appropriate water policy at national and regional levels. This includes the associated governance arrangements to support effective planning and implementation of blue / green infrastructure to support the development of healthy environments.

  • Planning and planning policy
  • Environmental history
  • Community engagement and resilience
  • Water for leisure

Staff working in this group


  • IoT4Win-Horizon 2020 MSCA-ITN-2017 (765921) Internet of Thing for Smart Water Innovative Networks, Coordinator and PI 2018-2022, €764,000 
  • Building Resilience in Flood Disaster Management in Northern Peru
  • Emerald Real Impact blog
  • Urban Living Birmingham Project 
  • Flood repairable– low cost property level flood resilience interventions 
  • Retrofit of Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDS) in CBD for improved flood mitigation
  • An international evaluation of the role of Chartered Surveyors in providing professional flood risk advice on commercial property - https://www1.uwe.ac.uk/et/research/cfcr/researchprojects/charteredsurveyorsadvice.aspx
  • Guest Editor: Special Issue of the open access journal, Water on 'Influence of the Urban Fabric on the Risks of Floods' http://www.mdpi.com/journal/water/special_issues/Influence_Urban_Fabric_Risks_Floods
  • Exploring the application of property-level flood risk adaptation (PLFRA)
  • Feasibility study for Sustainable Water Management (2010) EPSRC Business innovation voucher exploring opportunities for rainwater harvesting with Industry partner Rock and Water Ltd.

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Nicki Schiessel Harvey spoke to The Cost Of Everything, a podcast dedicating to unearthing vital info on a number of issues, about the social value of the Inland Waterways. 

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