Evaluation the Public Health Risks of Urban Flooding Events

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Civil and Structural Engineering


This project aims to develop new microbiological and engineering tools to help address significant societal challenges caused by urban flooding.

Urban flood waters have been shown to contain a number of pollutants including microorganisms which might pose a public health risk. These contaminants may originate from a range of sources such as urban drainage systems. Direct exposure to flood waters therefore represents a significant risk to public health. The scale of this risk is increasing since extreme weather events and flooding have become heavier and more frequent due to the climate crisis.

Understanding of the microbiological and environmental processes driving the mobilisation, transport and survivability of potential pathogens in shallow flood flows and on urban surfaces (post flood) is currently lacking. This interdisciplinary project will utilise world leading instrumentation and laboratory facilities at the University of Sheffield to study the behaviour of microorganisms under urban flood conditions.

This project will involve novel large-scale laboratory experiments and the application of molecular and microbial genetics to better understand dispersion and transport of pathogens within urban floodwaters and across the water/ground interface and determine the influence of environmental factors such as temperature and redox potential on microbial concentration and survival on a range of urban surfaces. This new understanding of the behaviour of microorganisms in floodwaters will be applied to develop state of the art modelling tools for risk assessment.

It is expected the novel interaction between microbiology and drainage/wastewater engineering will generate novel science relevant to the management of flood risk both in the UK and overseas.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/T517835/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2025
2544261 Studentship EP/T517835/1 26/10/2020 24/04/2024 Sophie Scutt