Water-themed Zoomposium 1: 4 March 2022

Published: 17 February 2022

Prof Cecilia TORTAJADA: 'Global water megatrends' Dr Martin LLEWELLYN: 'Seawater environmental DNA monitoring to identify and predict planktonic threats to salmon aquaculture’ Dr Stephanie CONNELLY: ‘Sustainable decentralised sewage treatment to mitigate methane emissions’

Watch Water-themed Zoomposium (Passcode: Rx0F%4*Y)


Prof Cecilia Tortajada, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, CoSS

‘Global water megatrends’

I have over 30 years of experience on water, environment and natural resources management, agricultural development, and capacity building in the overall context of development. I am working at present on impacts of global changes on water resources, environment, food, and societies. An example is, how megatrends such as globalisation, environmental change and sustainability, infrastructure development, new users of water such as data centres, engineering advances, greater interconnectedness, economic growth, and concentration of wealth, are affecting availability and access of clean water resources at present and to the future.

I am interested to collaborate with people working in engineering, technology, analytics, energy and agricultural sectors, and development, as well as policymakers. It would be great if CoSE could put me in contact with them.

My plans are to develop a several-year project to study megatrends in different parts of the world and work with experts from different disciplines and sectors. ace.


Dr Martin Llewellyn, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medecine, MVLS  

‘Seawater environmental DNA monitoring to identify and predict planktonic threats to salmon aquaculture’

Salmon are the UK’s largest food export by value. However, the salmon aquaculture industry is experiencing 20-40% annual losses in the marine grow-out phase. Losses are being driven by poor gill health as a result of insult from a variety of planktonic organisms: phytoplankton, micro-jellyfish and pathogenic amoebae. We undertook daily monitoring of seawater around farm sites off the west coast in 2021, including traditional (microscopic) and next generation (eDNA) monitoring. Our data provide a high resolution time-series to predict fish mortality and enable detection of sub-bloom concentrations of problematic organisms via eDNA metabarcoding. Our findings will enable timely detection of planktonic threats, early mitigation, and ultimately enhance fish welfare and reduce waste in this important but sometimes controversial industry.


Dr Stephanie Connelly, James Watt School of Engineering

‘Sustainable decentralised sewage treatment to mitigate methane emissions’

Centralised wastewater treatment has long protected public and environmental health in our towns and cities. Yet across Europe, the humble septic tank serves 25% of households with distributed systems largely deployed in rural areas. Biological treatment in septic tanks is passive at best and polluting effluents are commonplace. The Solar Septic Tank (SST) is a novel solution pioneered by the Asian Institute of Technology that utilises heat to promote biological treatment, and, partial pasteurisation of effluents. Whilst effective, the biology in septic tanks transform organics into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. As we seek to adapt the SST to the Scottish climate, we ask first, how much methane is currently emitted from the 200,000 septic tanks operational across Scotland? Then, how can we improve treatment in whilst eliminating emissions? 


First published: 17 February 2022