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High-frequency Water Quality Data

High-frequency Water Quality Data

High-frequency Water Quality Data

What can we learn about drinking water sources from high-frequency water quality data?

The use of in-stream water quality sensors is increasing, both for targeted research and routinely to support the operation of drinking water treatment works. These sensors generate large volumes of complex data which can give us insight into hydrochemical behaviour across catchments. This helps us look at landscape and in-stream processes which affect drinking water sources.

Drinking water sources are affected by a wide range of local and global changes, including: climatic variability, land use and management, population change, pollution incidents, and emerging pollutants. The data from high frequency water quality monitoring in rivers and reservoirs are used to look at trends and other changes in catchment hydrochemistry. They are also used routinely by the water industry to inform the processes used to treat drinking water, and to support the identification and management of risks to surface waters and to water supply.

This PhD research uses high-frequency (sub-hourly) water quality data to investigate how catchments function and how water quality in rivers and at water treatment works responds to changes upstream. It looks at relationships between high frequency water quality parameters and rainfall-runoff driven water quality events in rivers supplying drinking water treatment works.

The catchments in this study are part of the South West Water funded Upstream Thinking programme (which includes water quality monitoring and analysis, farm advise and landscape restoration). The catchments are in the UK and are within predominantly rural areas.

Team members

  • Josie Ashe
  • Supervisors: Prof Dragan A. Savic, Prof Richard E. Brazier
  • Academic mentor: Dr Emilie Grand-Clement


  • Water Informatics Sciences and Engineering (WISE) CDT EPSRC grant reference EP/L016214/1

Project partners

  • South West Water 


  • J. Ashe, E. Grand-Clement, D. Luscombe, H. Graham, D.A. Savic, R. E. Brazier (2019) “Patterns in routinely collected, high frequency water quality data in rivers supplying drinking water treatment works.” Geophysical Research Abstracts, EGU General Assembly, April 2019, Vol. 21, EGU2019-15056.
  • J. Ashe, E. Grand-Clement, D. Smith, R.E. Brazier and D.A. Savic (2018) “Extracting value from complex high-frequency multivariate water quality data: exploring routinely collected operational data” G. La Loggia, G. Freni, V. Puleo and M. De Marchis (editors). EPiC Series in Engineering, 13th International Conference on Hydroinformatics, Palermo, Italy, July 2018, vol 3, pp. 103—110. DOI: