Integrated Modelling to Support Analysis of COVID-19 Impacts on London's Water System and In-river Water Quality

Dobson, Barnaby; Jovanovic, Tijana; Chen, Yuting; Paschalis, Athanasios; Butler, Adrian; Mijic, Ana. 2021 Integrated Modelling to Support Analysis of COVID-19 Impacts on London's Water System and In-river Water Quality. Frontiers in Water, 3.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens of the United Kingdom were required to stay at home for many months in 2020. In the weeks before and months following lockdown, including when it was not being enforced, citizens were advised to stay at home where possible. As a result, in a megacity such as London, where long-distance commuting is common, spatial and temporal changes to patterns of water demand are inevitable. This, in turn, may change where people's waste is treated and ultimately impact the in-river quality of effluent receiving waters. To assess large scale impacts, such as COVID-19, at the city scale, an integrated modelling approach that captures everything between households and rivers is needed. A framework to achieve this is presented in this study and used to explore changes in water use and the associated impacts on wastewater treatment and in-river quality as a result of government and societal responses to COVID-19. Our modelling results revealed significant changes to household water consumption under a range of impact scenarios, however, they only showed significant impacts on pollutant concentrations in household wastewater in central London. Pollutant concentrations in rivers simulated by the model were most sensitive in the tributaries of the River Thames, highlighting the vulnerability of smaller rivers and the important role that they play in diluting pollution. Modelled ammonia and phosphates were found to be the pollutants that rivers were most sensitive to because their main source in urban rivers is domestic wastewater that was significantly altered during the imposed mobility restrictions. A model evaluation showed that we can accurately validate individual model components (i.e., water demand generator) and emphasised need for continuous water quality measurements. Ultimatly, the work provides a basis for further developments of water systems integration approaches to project changes under never-before seen scenarios.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2624-9375
Date made live: 30 Jun 2021 14:30 +0 (UTC)

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