Public water supply reservoirs and the rivers downstream are classed as ‘heavily modified’ under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). The WFD objective for these water bodies is to reach good ecological potential (GEP) by 2021. Currently the classification of water bodies is supported by limited hydrological and biological data. The lack of empirical information prevents the Environment Agency and United Utilities from understanding whether the water bodies are achieving their objectives or what the nature and scale of the ‘gap’ to good ecological potential are.
Without better understanding, United Utilities is unable to progress appraisal of potential appropriate mitigation measures, such as alterations to the flow regime, which could be implemented to bring water bodies to GEP if they are cost-beneficial, as well as technically and practically feasible.
This project will gather robust scientific evidence to define the sensitivity of different ecological indicators to hydrologic and hydraulic conditions over different scales. This PhD would add to the body of knowledge related to environmental flows and river flow for good ecological potential.
It is anticipated that the project will involve the collection of hydrological, hydraulic and biological/ecological datasets pre and post the implementation of change flow alterations and selected study sites. This will involve the planning and undertaking of field experiments alongside appropriate data interpretation and analysis as well as modelling of flows and habitat.