Water Quality Engineering and Ecohydrology

Module aims

  • To introduce water quality issues, and the basic concepts of surface water quality assessment, modelling and engineering. Models of pollution transport are described.
  • To cover methods of modelling organic pollution, nutrients, toxins and sediment quality in rivers and lakes. Through a combination of lectures and practical sessions, dynamic models of river and lake water quality are described and developed.
  • Students are taught how to develop their own models, and are introduced into how models are used in practice.
  • The course concludes with two lectures on catchment water quality management and two on hydro-ecology.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this course unit, students will be able to: 

  • Understand the context of water quality management and engineering.
  • Apply mass balance principles to develop and solve simple water quality models.
  • Incorporate in models the processes of:  pollutant decay and sedimentation, sorption and desorption, oxygenation, respiration and photosynthesis.
  • Understand eutrophication: the principal biochemical and physical factors affecting algae growth, management problems and solutions, and modelling approaches and their limitations.
  • Understand acidification: the principal biochemical and physical factors affecting acidification, management problems and solutions, and modelling approaches and their limitations.
  • Understand the reasons for and approaches to constructing a catchment water quality model.
  • Understand the diffuse pollution management challenge and the role of modelling.
  • Understand the main factors affecting habitat quality in a stream, and some methods of assessing habitat quality, and possible solutions to habitat quality problems.
  • Solve a range of simple water quality problems by building and applying water quality models.
  • Recognise the links between water quality engineering and management, and the theories and practices taught in other related modules in this MSc (e.g. flood hydrology, groundwater flow and quality, fluid mechanics).

Module syllabus

  • The course is delivered in the spring term as a set of 20 lectures and includes seminar/revision periods as tutorial support.   





Introduction and concepts 

Dr W. Buytaert 


Fundamentals of fate and transport 

Dr W. Buytaert 



Dr W. Buytaert 


Lakes and reservoirs (1) 

Dr W. Buytaert 


Lakes and reservoirs (2) 

Dr W. Buytaert 



Dr W. Buytaert 


Watershed management for water quality 

Professor S. Krause 


Hydroecology 1 

Mike Dunbar 


Hydroecology 2 

Mike Dunbar 

Teaching methods

The module is delivered through a combination of lectures, invited lectures, and tutorials.


Assessment of the module is by examination only. 

Reading list

Module leaders

Dr Wouter Buytaert