Multimillion Pound Water Research Programme Launched By Epsrc

September 26, 1997

A £2 million a year research programme into water mains leakage, treatment technology and other aspects of engineering related to the water utilities is being launched by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to help build a world-class water industry which is water efficient and environmentally sustainable.

The Water Infrastructure and Treatment Engineering (WITE) programme is part of the EPSRC's flagship "Quality of Life" programme: Engineering for Infrastructure, the Environment and Healthcare.

The WITE programme has been developed after extensive consultation with the water utilities and related industries, academics and other research funders.

Over the past few years the UK water industry has faced growing demands for improved services. Increased public awareness, changes in customer behaviour, environmental change, regulatory and social pressures, and new legislation are some of the factors which influence the water utilities in their strategic planning for the 21st century. For example, according to "Waterfacts ", published by the Water Services Association, since 1980, each person in the UK uses about 30% more water compared to 6.6% more across Western Europe.

Every year we use more and more water for domestic purposes. It has been estimated that the effects of global warming and increased ownership of water-using appliances will increase the use of water by over 15 per cent in 20 years time. At the Water Summit in May 1997, the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, announced a 10-point plan for an environmentally sustainable water environment which included action on leakage and ways to reduce water use.

The WITE programme aims to build on previous EPSRC support of over £4.8 million since 1992, and to encourage strong multidisciplinary collaborations between university research teams and the water industry. This will help sustain a healthy and vibrant research community which the industry can draw on into the next century.

Up to £2 million a year will be available for high-quality research relevant to the water utilities. The funding will be initially for 3 years from 1998-2001. A Programme Advisory Group consisting of representatives from water utilities, UK Water Industry Research

(UKWIR), and academe, will steer the programme. EPSRC will be working closely with UKWIR to ensure effective exploitation of the research.


Further information
EPSRC Associate Programme Manager for Water Infrastructure and Treatment Engineering: Dr Julian Lomas; Tel: (01793) 444282; e-mail: EPSRC Programme Manager for Engineering for Infrastructure, the Environment and Healthcare: Mrs Catherine Coates; Tel: (01793) 444176; e-mail: UKWIR Co-ordinator: Mr John West; Tel: 0171-957 4521; e-mail:

NOTES TO EDITORS 1. EPSRC support for engineering research comprises of three closely integrated programmes: General Engineering; Engineering for Infrastructure, the Environment and Healthcare (EIEH) and Engineering for Manufacturing. Each of these programmes addresses the three key aspects of this EPSRC's mission, namely: to maintain and strengthen the health of the engineering disciplines; to improve quality of life of the UK's citizens and also the economic competitiveness of the UK..

2. The EIEH Programme is the EPSRC's flagship "quality of life" programme and supports a broad range of targeted interdisciplinary programmes which promote the maintenance of the national infrastructure and key services and sustainable development such as transportation, coastal and flood defences, public utilities, management and minimisation of waste, and promote health through support for healthcare engineering. The EIEH programme is complementary in many areas to the programmes of other Research Councils (NERC, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC) and other research funders (e.g. MAFF, DoH, DTI, DETR, the Environment Agency, CIRIA, English Nature, etc.).

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

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