UK and US water engineers collaborate on global water issues

Published: 23 October 2013

A new trans-Atlantic collaboration, ‘Clean Water for All’, will bring leading water engineers from the United States and the UK together to tackle problems of providing clean, sustainable water supplies.

A new trans-Atlantic collaboration, ‘Clean Water for All’, will bring leading water engineers from the United States and the UK together to tackle problems of providing clean, sustainable water supplies.  

Five different research teams at UK universities will partner with academics from universities across the US. The UK projects are looking at water treatment and purification, water re-use, storm water management, sustainability of supplies and water infrastructures. 

These five projects are supported by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and additional projects are supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA, with a combined funding of around £800,000 to supplement existing grant awards.

Expertise from both countries will be shared at workshops, symposiums, via visits and videoconference calls leading to new robust collaborations and adding value to existing research projects involving 12 UK universities.

Kedar Pandya, Head of Engineering at EPSRC said: “Building on the success of this year’s Engineering Grand Challenges Summit, EPSRC is delighted to be working with the NSF to support UK and US researchers to address key challenges in clean water for all.”

Professor William Sloan, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Glasgow saidThis award a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with some of the World's experts in decentralised water treatment from the US. It’s an example of where a modest investment will not only help solve one of Scotland's trickiest infrastructure problems but will yield an important international partnership in tackling the Grand Challenge of delivering clean water for all.”

‘Clean Water for All’, was announced at the 2013 Global Grand Challenges Summit, where scientists, engineers and policy makers discussed how engineering solutions could solve the world’s most pressing problems by developing international co-operation and frameworks. Providing clean sustainable supplies of water was identified as a major priority as this global issue has societal, health, and economic implications.

The University of Glasgow is exploring new technologies such as synthetic biology, nanomaterial science and bio-electrochemical systems and applying them to water engineering. In Scotland providing water and wastewater services to remote rural populations using existing infrastructure is chemical and energy intensive.  Similarly half of the world’s population do not live in urban areas.  A three day workshop will address challenges of water use in rural communities and put together proposals for further research with US and UK development. 

The University of Exeter will collaborate with the University of Utah and University of Arizona on urban water systems to make them more sustainable and resilient, especially for urban drainage and water resource distribution systems.

A symposium will be held by the University of Sheffield to explore water re-use in urban areas, and how US and UK expertise can improve solutions for re-using water in both countries.

The University of Oxford are teaming up with the University of Massachusetts and Sandia National Laboratory and will focus on using algorithms to improve methodology for assessing risks to water security, and modelling how resilient piped networks are.

A research group including the Universities of Nottingham, Cambridge, Leeds, and Cranfield University, UWE, London School of Economics, Newcastle University and Heriot-Watt University are working on the research project, ‘Delivering and Evaluating Multiple Flood Risk Benefits in Blue-Green Cities.’ A Blue-Green city aims to recreate a natural water cycle, and bring water management and green infrastructure together whilst providing measures to deal with flooding. The funds will support academic visits, student exchanges and collaborative meetings.

“The NSF and the EPSRC coordinated their investments to spur the creation of breakthrough solutions to clean water challenges,” said Pramod Khargonekar, NSF Assistant Director for Engineering.  

Related Links

Professor William Sloan

School of Engineering

College of Science and Engineering

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2012, its budget was $7.0 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

For media enquiries please contact EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444 404 or

First published: 23 October 2013

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