PhD: Overcoming socio-economic barriers to develop a ‘beyond compliance’ culture of water reuse in Scotland via FindAPhD

The James Hutton Institute

Aberdeen, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project

Globally, populations face water shortages driven by growing demand alongside an increasingly unpredictable supply exacerbated by climate change. Even in areas traditionally safe from drought, such as Scotland, resources are already under stress generating calls for more efficient use of water, including water-wise design and circular economy perspectives that offer solutions through reclamation and reuse. However, reusing treated wastewater has seen limited development across the EU. Barriers include lack of public support attributed in large part to unfavourable perceptions; risks to public health and the environment; significant initial set-up costs; technical and practical implementation challenges; regulatory barriers; and concerns over trade barriers on agricultural goods from land irrigated with grey water. This project will promote new initiatives and instruments to establish water-wise design and effluent reuse in Scotland.

The student will be based between the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen and the University of Dundee within the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science. The student will:

  • Conduct opportunity mapping for Scotland to identify present and future supply and demand of greywater, for example in the construction sector, to determine where water-wise solutions can reduce current and predicted future usage most effectively. Participatory mapping techniques including the use of digital interactive TouchTable technology will be utilised to support mapping, to co-create and share GIS maps with stakeholders and to identify favourable conditions that may already be present as pinch-points where the current system is under pressure.
  • Engage with current and future stakeholders including end-users and potential end users, to co-design options for overcoming socio-economic barriers and to promote the benefits of reclaimed water use. The use of participatory workshops will involve both raising awareness of the economic and environmental benefits of reclaimed water and communicating potential risks appropriately. Developing an open and meaningful dialogue with stakeholders is critical.
  • Explore both international cases that can inform Scotland’s reuse trajectory and Scottish initiatives and pilots that can inform current and future opportunities.

While wastewater reclamation and recycling present a significant opportunity to develop sustainable water management beyond compliance in Scotland, greater acceptability needs to be fostered through programmes of engagement with prospective user communities, stakeholders, and the public more generally. This project will be a catalyst for developing a culture of water reuse in Scotland. The successful candidate will benefit from formal training and networking opportunities through the Hydro Nation Scholarship Programme that will support the project and their personal development.

Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline. Applicants must send a completed Hydro Nation Scholarship application form (available here with a Curriculum Vitae and covering letter to Dr Dominic Duckett ([email protected] ) by the final submission deadline of 7th January 2022.

Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. This project will be hosted by the University of Dundee. Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 27th or 28th January 2022