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Donata Dubber
Research Fellow, Civil Struct & Env. Eng.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Dubber D., Gill L.W., Suitability of fluorescent whitening compounds (FWCs) as indicators of human faecal contamination from septic tanks in rural catchments, Water Research, 127, 2017, p104 - 117 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Dubber D., Pilla F., Smyth D., Qazi N., McCarthy T. , Gill L.W., Development of a GIS based decision support toolset to assess the feasibility of on-site wastewater treatment and disposal options in low permeability subsoils, Water Science and Technology, 70, (3), 2014, p464 - 471 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Keegan M., Kilroy K., Gill L.W., Nolan D., O'Flaherty V., Dubber D., Johnston P., Misstear B., Barrett M., Assessment of the Impact of Traditional Septic Tank Soakaway Systems on Water Quality in Ireland, Water Science and Technology, 70, (4), 2014 Journal Article, 2014

Dubber D., Gill L.W., Application of on-site wastewater treatment in Ireland and perspectives on its sustainability, Sustainability, 6, 2014, p1623 - 1642 Journal Article, 2014 TARA - Full Text DOI

Dubber, D., Gill, L.W., Water saving technologies to reduce water consumption and wastewater production in Irish households, Strive Report Series No.108, Wexford, Ireland, Environmental Protection Agency, July, 2013 Report, 2013

Dubber, D., Gray, N.F., The effect of anoxia and anaerobia on ciliate community in biological nutrient removal systems using laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs), Water Research, 45, (6), 2011, p2213 - 2226 Journal Article, 2011 TARA - Full Text

Dubber, D., Gray, N.F., The influence of fundamental design parameters on ciliates community structure in Irish activated sludge systems, European Journal of Protistology, 47, 2011, p274 - 286 Journal Article, 2011

Dubber, D. and Gray, N.F., Replacement of chemical oxygen demand (COD) with total organic carbon (TOC) for monitoring wastewater treatment performance to minimize disposal of toxic analytical waste. , Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A: Toxic/Hazardous Substances, Environmental Engineering, 45 , (12), 2010, p1595 - 1600 Journal Article, 2010

Dubber, D and Gray, N.F., Enumeration of protozoan ciliates in activated sludge: Determination of replicate number using probability, Water Research, 43, (14), 2009, p3443 - 3452 Journal Article, 2009

Dubber, D. and Harder, T., Extracts of Ceramium rubrum, Mastocarpus stellatus and Laminaria digitata inhibit growth of marine and fish pathogenic bacteria at ecologically realistic concentrations, Aquaculture, 274, 2008, p196 - 200 Journal Article, 2008

Gill, L., Dubber, D., O'Flaherty, V., Keegan, M., Kilroy, K., Curneen, S., Misstear, B., Johnston, P., Pilla, F., McCarthy, T., Qazi, N., Smyth, D., Assessment of disposal options for treated wastewater from single houses in low-permeability subsoils, EPA Research Report 161, Ireland, 2015 Report, 2015

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Dubber D.,Gill L.W., Pilla F., Smyth D., Qazi N., McCarthy T., Development of a GIS Based Decision Support Toolset to Assess the Feasibility of on-Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Options in Low Permeability Subsoils, Soil Science Society of America Specialized Conference: Innovation in Soil-based Onsite Wastewater Treatment, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 7th - 8th of April, 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Gill L.W., Keegan M., Dubber D., Misstear B.D.R., Johnston P.M.,, Determining the minimum subsoil permeability for pressurised infiltration systems for on-site wastewater treatment in Ireland, Soil Science Society of America Specialized Conference: Innovation in Soil-based Onsite Wastewater Treatment, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 7th- 8th April, 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Dubber D., Pilla F., Gill L.W., Clustered decentralised wastewater treatment systems as a sustainable solution to Ireland's septic tank problem? , ENVIRON 2014, 24th Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 26th- 28th February, 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Keegan M., Gill L.W., Dubber D., Modelling of alternative infiltration systems receiving domestic wastewater in low permeability subsoils. , ENVIRON 2014, 24th Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 26th- 28th February , 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Kilroy K., Keegan M., Barrett M., Dubber D., Gill L.W., O'Flaherty V. , The impact of traditional septic tank soakaway systems and the effects of remediation on water quality in Ireland., ENVIRON 2014, 24th Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 26th- 28th February, 2014 Conference Paper, 2014

Dubber D., Gill L.W., Improving the feasibility of on-site wastewater treatment systems in areas of low permeability subsoils by means of water saving technologies, The 11th IWA Conference on Small Water & Wastewater Systems and Sludge Management, Harbin, China, 28th - 30th October, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Dubber D., Gill L.W., Wastewater treatment and management challenges related to surface water discharge for single houses and small decentralised systems in Ireland, The 11th IWA Conference on Small Water & Wastewater Systems and Sludge Management, Harbin, China, 28th - 30th October, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Dubber D.,Gill L.W., Pilla F., Smyth D., Qazi N., McCarthy T., Development of a GIS based decision support toolset to assess the feasibility of on-site wastewater treatment and disposal options in low permeability subsoils, The 11th IWA Conference on Small Water & Wastewater Systems and Sludge Management, Harbin, China, 28th - 30th October, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Keegan M., Kilroy K., Gill L.W., Nolan D., O'Flaherty V., Dubber D., Johnston P., Misstear B., Barrett M., Assessment of the Impact of Traditional Septic Tank Soakaway Systems on Water Quality in Ireland, The 11th IWA Conference on Small Water & Wastewater Systems and Sludge Management, Harbin, China, 28th - 30th October, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Keegan M., Gill L.W., Dubber D., Johnston P., Misstear B., Alternative Infiltration Systems for Treatment of Domestic Wastewater in Low Permeability Subsoils, The 11th IWA Conference on Small Water & Wastewater Systems and Sludge Management, Harbin, China, 28th - 30th October, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Dubber, D., Gill, L.W., Challenged by low permeability subsoils, Irish Water Treatment Association (IWTA) Workshop - Sustainable On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Ireland "Barriers to Implementation", Portlaoise, 17th April, 2013 Oral Presentation, 2013

Dubber, D., Gill, L.W., Smyth, D.,McCarthy, T., Assessment of alternative effluent disposal options for single houses in low permeability subsoil settings based on economical and environmental sustainability, ENVIRON 2013, 23rd Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, National University of Galway, Ireland, 30th Jan -1st Feb, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Keegan M., Gill, L.W., Dubber, D., The performance of existing septic tank soakaways in low permeability Irish soils, ENVIRON 2013, 23rd Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, National University of Galway, Ireland, 30th Jan -1st Feb, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Keegan M., Gill, L.W., Dubber, D., Alternative infiltration systems for single house wastewater disposal, ENVIRON 2013, 23rd Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, National University of Galway, Ireland, 30th Jan -1st Feb, 2013 Conference Paper, 2013

Dubber D., Gill L.W. , Potential benefits from water saving measures., Resource Ireland - Irish Water Exhibition, Dublin, 17th-18th October , 2012 Oral Presentation, 2012

Dubber D., Gill L.W., The suitability of packaged wastewater treatment systems for direct surface water discharge in rural Ireland - A review of performance and cost efficiencies., International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College Dublin, 10th-11th September, 2012, pp1 - 8 Conference Paper, 2012

Smyth D., Gill L.W., Dubber D., McCarthy T. , The use of geospatial modelling in determining strategies for on-site wastewater treatment in areas of low permeability subsoil., International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College Dublin, 10th-11th September, 2012, pp1 - 8 Conference Paper, 2012

Barrett M., Kilroy K., Murphy S., Jahangir M.M.R., Richards, K.G., Dubber D., Keegan M., Gill L.W., O'Flaherty V, Understanding microbial denitrification and pathogen transport in effluent and soils, International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College, Dublin, 10th-11th September, 2012, pp1 - 8 Conference Paper, 2012

Dubber D., Gill L.W. , Water saving technologies to reduce the wastewater production and its effect on effluent disposal options in areas with low permeability subsoils., International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College, Dublin, 10th-11th September, edited by L.W. Gill , 2012 Poster, 2012

Keegan M., Gill L.W., Dubber D., Alternative infiltration systems for single house wastewater disposal., International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College, Dublin, 10th-11th September, edited by L.W. Gill , 2012 Poster, 2012

Keegan M., Gill L.W., Dubber D., The performance of existing septic tank soakaways in low permeability Irish soils., International Symposium on Domestic Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Systems, Trinity College, Dublin, 10th-11th September, edited by L.W. Gill , 2012 Poster, 2012

Dubber, D., Gray, N., The effect of anoxia and anaerobia on ciliate communities in biological nutrient removal (BNR) systems using laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactors (SBRs), ENVIRON 2011, 21st Environmental Researcher's Colloquium, University College Cork, 6th - 8th April, 2011 Conference Paper, 2011

Dubber, D., Gray, N., Investigation of the effect of anoxia on protozoan community in biological nutrient removal systems using laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactors, The Water Research Conference, Lisbon, Portugal, 11th - 14th April, 2010 Poster, 2010

Dubber, D., Gray, N., Improving precision in the estimation of ciliate protozoa in community analysis of activated sludge, IWA ASPD 5 conference, Microbial Population Dynamics in Biological Wastewater Treatment, Aalborg, Denmark, 24th - 27th May, 2009 Poster, 2009

Research Expertise

Description

Water quality and environmental assessment: Pollution control, water quality and impact assessments in marine and fresh water environments; Mathematical modelling of environmental impacts for decision support systems. Wastewater treatment: Treatment technologies; Microbiology and biochemistry of activated sludge systems; Integration and optimisation of biological nutrient removal; on-site wastewater treatment and disposal systems; soil attenuation systems; Decentralised, small scale wastewater collection and treatment systems; Costs, energy use and carbon footprint associated with wastewater treatment. Water minimisation, ecosanitation and water reuse: Water saving technologies; Water demand reductions; wastewater/greywater recycling; health risk aspects; reduction in energy use; economical feasibility; environmental sustainability. Aquaculture and biotechnology: Environmentally sustainable Aquaculture (e.g. recirculation systems); Environmental impact of Aquaculture; Antibacterial and antifouling activities of marine algae; Economic and medical use of algal secondary metabolites.

Projects

  • Title
    • Using faecal sterols and fluorescent whitening compounds to detect human faecal contamination from septic tanks in Irish catchments
  • Summary
    • The domestic wastewater of approximately one third of the population in Ireland is treated on-site by domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTSs), most of which are septic tanks. If not situated and constructed correctly the potential impacts of such on-site effluent are the pollution of either groundwater and/or surface water. While an increased nutrient load can cause eutrophication of water sources, the contamination by human enteric pathogens is of special concern to regulatory bodies as it can promote the outbreak of diseases. Bacteriological indicators have been used successfully to indicate faecal contamination but the ubiquitous nature of these organisms makes it difficult to identify actual sources of pollution, i.e. from domestic wastewater, agricultural activities (e.g. farm animals and grazing livestock) or the natural environment (e.g. birds). Some chemical faecal source tracking methods have been reported to be useful techniques when used in combination with traditional microbiological indicators. For example fluorescent whitening compounds (FWC), which are present in laundry detergents, are regarded as good indicators of human contamination. Furthermore distinguishable faecal sterol profiles, i.e. 'sterol fingerprints" for humans, herbivores and birds have been found to be sufficiently distinctive to be of diagnostic value in determining whether faecal pollution is of human or animal origin. Hence the aim of this study is to establish appropriate analytical methods to measure these chemical indicators in the Irish environment and to test their suitability to distinguish between the environmental impact from agricultural activities and failing DWWTSs. In helping to identify the correct sources of contamination, the integration of these techniques into the national inspections of DWWTSs is expected to provide information, necessary to plan effective remediation measures in catchments where water quality is at risk of failing the European Water Framework Directive targets.
  • Funding Agency
    • Irish Research Council
  • Date From
    • 01.10.2014
  • Date To
    • 30.09.2016
  • Title
    • Practical application of a GIS based decision support tool for domestic wastewater treatment systems from a WFD Programme of Measures perspective
  • Summary
    • A previous EPA-STRIVE funded research project investigated and proposed alternative wastewater treatment and disposal options for rural housing in areas of low subsoil permeability. In this connection a web based GIS (Geographic Information Systems) decision support tool (DST) has been developed for Environmental planners and managers to evaluate these alternative strategies on the basis of both cost-benefit and environmental sustainability principles. This study will now demonstrate how the tool can be used in order to inform the Water Framework Directive (WFD) programme of measures (POM). Using the DST together with additional local data a remediation strategy/programme of measures for domestic wastewater treatment systems (DWWTSs) will be established for two case study catchments that are located in areas of low subsoil permeability with water quality being at risk of failing WFD objectives. The tool will not only be used to identify possible alternative treatment solutions but will further help to assess various strategies and management scenarios for their cost-effectiveness in achieving the WFD objectives.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 01.05.2014
  • Date To
    • 31.07.2014
  • Title
    • Assessment of disposal options for treated wastewater from single houses in low permeability subsoil settings
  • Summary
    • The domestic wastewater of over one third of the population in Ireland is treated by on-site treatment systems. In these systems the soil attenuation that takes place while the effluent percolates through the subsoil is playing an important role and protects the groundwater from pollution. The effectiveness of treatment however is highly dependent on the thickness and permeability of the subsoils. If the effluent loading on the subsoil is too high, the permeability of the subsoil very high or there is an insufficient depth of subsoil then the groundwater beneath a percolation area is at risk of pollution. Alternatively, if there is insufficient permeability in the subsoil to take the effluent load - the main focus of this research - surface ponding may occur with associated health risk and there will be a risk of effluent discharge and runoff of pollutants to surface water. The nutrient load in the effluent can contribute to eutrophication in sensitive water bodies, whilst contamination of water sources by human enteric pathogens can promote the outbreak of disease. The project aims to not only assess the pollution risk by old septic tank soakaway systems but moreover to investigate possible effluent disposal options in low permeability subsoil settings on the basis of both cost-benefit and environmental impact/sustainability principles. Within this project the performance of existing septic tank soakaways in different subsoil settings with high, moderate and low permeability is being monitored to establish the degree of contamination to groundwater and/or surface water. Alternative methods of on-site effluent distribution, such as drip irrigation and low pressure pipe systems, will then be assessed for their suitability to improve effluent percolation and the natural attenuation of nutrients and pathogens. Willow evapotranspiration systems are seen as one potential effluent disposal option in areas of very low subsoil permeability. To investigate their performance under different Irish climatic conditions two systems have been constructed and will be monitored in the west of Ireland in order to augment the information being gained during an ongoing research project with trial systems in Co. Wexford. Using geospatial modelling different options for the treatment and disposal of wastewater effluent in areas of low subsoil permeability will be explored. This will be part of the development of a decision making prototype toolset for Local Authority planners and managers to evaluate alternative strategies and reduce the risk posed by current domestic septic tank treatment solutions.
  • Funding Agency
    • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Date From
    • 01.04.2011
  • Date To
    • 31.03.2014
  • Title
    • The effect of anoxia and anaerobia on protozoan communities in activated sludge
  • Summary
    • Both the density and the structure of the protozoan community affect the process performance and efficiency of the wastewater treatment in terms of final effluent BOD, turbidity and pathogen concentration. Protozoa are sensitive to environmental change brought about by changes in influent quality or operating conditions, which can lead to an alteration in their community structure that can subsequently affect performance. With the implementation of biological nutrient removal (BNR), involving anaerobic and anoxic stages, the impact of these new conditions on the activated sludge protozoan community requires further exploration. The aim of this project is to investigate the ability of protozoan species to tolerate anoxia and anaerobia. Furthermore optimal process conditions should be established that ensure maximum treatment performance and optimal protozoal structure. Project: After the development of a reliable enumeration method for protozoan ciliates a survey of 11 full- scale wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) was conducted to determine the typical ciliates inhabiting different Irish activated sludge plants. By measuring a wide range of design and operational/management factors it was examined whether different plant designs, especially conventional and BNR systems, support different protozoan communities. For the laboratory based research on protozoan communities a novel laboratory scale WWTP consisting of 4 batch reactors was constructed and subsequently validated in terms of physico-chemical variation between the reactors and the protozoan community variability. Employing different length and frequencies of anoxia and anaerobia the lab scale plant was used to establish optimal process conditions with minimal effect on the protozoan community. A variety of sludges from different plants have been used to identify species that are able to survive anaerobic conditions and that dominate a community that is frequently exposed to anaerobia within a treatment cycle. Using all the data collected from both the plant study and the lab based experiments allows an attempt to be made to model the response of protozoa in relation to anoxia and anaerobia. This will permit more effective process management resulting in optimum treatment capability.
  • Funding Agency
    • Science Foundation Ireland
  • Date From
    • 01.11.2007
  • Date To
    • 31.03.2011

Recognition

Awards and Honours

Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship funded by Irish Research Council June 2014

Memberships

IWA (International Water Association)