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ES4020: Water Technology 2012/13

Activated sludge aerator, Nick Gray, TCD 125k jpeg Water Technology deals with the processes and mechanisms that are required to manage the human water cycle. It's function is to provide continuous and sufficient quantities of safe palatable drinking water for both domestic and industrial consumers and dispose of the used water to prevent environmental damage and to protect public health. This module sets out to examine the practical aspects of managing the human water cycle from water treatment and supply through wastewater characteristics, treatment and disposal. As an introductory module it is limited in what it covers, but is primarily designed for those who are interested in a possible future in the water industry, environmental consultancy or who want to do postgraduate studies in a water-related topic.

Learning outcomes

  • To understand the principles and operation of water and wastewater treatment systems
  • To appraise the suitability of the design of treatment plants and unit processes
  • To be able to evaluate process operations and performance
  • To be able to utilize this knowledge in the design of EIAs or within an environmental management context

For further details about this course then contact Prof. Nick Gray who is located in the Centre for the Environment (email:; Tel: 01-6081639).

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Breakdown of contact hours

Contact hours
Student Input (hours)

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Tuesday Lecture

Tuesday Lecture 12.00-13.00

Thursday Practicals*



Introduction, regulation and legislation

Water treatment and distribution

Water conservation



Drinking water problems (I)

Drinking water problems (II)

Visit: Water Treatment Plant



Nature of wastewater

Unit processes

Practical settleability



Biological aspects of wastewater treatment

Activated sludge (I)

Activated sludge (I)



Activated sludge (II)

Sludge treatment

Activated sludge evaluation (II)



Reading week



Sludge disposal

Fixed film reactors

Visit Wastewater treatment plant



Natural treatment systems (I)

Natural treatment systems (II)

Design of treatment plants**



Anaerobic treatment systems

Physico-chemical treatment

Visit To Wastewater treatment plant



Small treatment systems (I)

Small treatment systems (II)

Design of treatment plants**



Pathogens and water

Sustainability and water security


Location: Lectures in M4 MUSB; *Practicals in Luce Lab 1; except **in GGSR-A MUSB.

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The course is worth 5 ECTS and is assessed 50% by continuous assessment. There are three separate tasks. (i) and (iii) must be done individually, while task (ii) can be done in pairs.

(i) Personal and household water usage (25%)  (Individual)
You will be given a small database derived from water diaries kept by undergraduates for a week during the Hilary Term of 2012. I want you to analyze these results and write a short report using the scientific literature for comparisons. The report should not exceed 2,500 words, excluding figures and tables. You should compare daily usage, percentage use for various actions and general variability. Hand in on or before lecture on Tuesday 16th October, 2012 to the Botany Office.

(ii) Development of a risk assessment model for small wastewater treatment systems (35%) (pairs)
Small treatment systems are soon to become licensed and subsequently inspected.  Your task is to (i) produce a check list for inspection and from this (ii) develop a risk assessment model for septic tank and small treatment systems. Hand in on or before Friday 14th December, 2012 to the Botany Office.

(iii) State of the art review on secondary treatment of septic tank treatment systems (40%) (individual)
Septic tanks are used as the primary treatment stage in wastewater treatment provision for individual households, small commercial premises, and housing schemes normally <1000 pe. Using the online library databases this must be a highly referenced state-of-the- art review dealing with the secondary stage of treatment. Hand in on or before Friday 14th December, 2012 to the Botany Office.


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Support material

Course text: The lectures are closely based on this text and it is highly recommended that you have access to a copy during the course, especially the practical classes. Gray, N. F. (2010) Water Technology: an introduction for environmental scientists and engineers. (3rd edition) Butterworth-Hienemann, Oxford.

Resources: Learning material and links:; Blog:; College site:

Other literature: The key printed literature is to be found in section 6.2.8 in the Hamilton Library. The main journals are Water Research, Water Science and Technology, Water and Environmental Management and Environmental Pollution. Water related issues are not only covered by an enormous number of specialist journals but also all of the more general environmental and science journals.

Other useful texts include:

  • Twort, A., Ratnayaka, D.D. and Brandt, M.J. (2000) Water Supply (5th edn.) Arnold, London.
  • Metcalf and Eddy Inc. (2009) Wastewater Engineering: Treatment , Disposal and Reuse. (5th edn.) McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Gray, N.F. (2004) Biology of Wastewater Treatment (2nd edn.) Imperial College Press, London.
  • Gray, N.F. (2008) Drinking Water Quality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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Further Information

Check out the past posts on the blog::

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Course news 2012

Course updates and news will be posted here, so please check frequently.

  • 12th September, 2012. Note timetable changes. Lectures now start in week 6 as week 5 is taken up with field courses.
  • 9th July, 2012. Make sure you get a copy of the course text in good time. Also a good time to check your lab coat.

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Last updated 12 September 2012 by