Researchers from the UK’s University of Huddersfield are working with local water company Yorkshire Water to develop a mathematical model that will help the utility improve treatment across its region to reflect differing source water qualities in order to reduce exposure of customers to lead.
Some 900,000 properties served by Yorkshire Water have some lead associated with them. The researchers have been supplied with equipment from treatment plants, including rigs that mimic the lead pipes that connect to the mains in some older houses. This equipment will be used in tests with sampled and laboratory-synthesised water to assess pipeline corrosion and treatment options across the utility’s hard and soft water areas.
The 27-month, £300,000 project is being led by Dr Jeremy Hopwood and the research team includes postdoctoral researcher Dr Taher Rabizadeh. According to information released by the university, one part of the project will focus on particulate lead. A key area of research will be to look at techniques to control lead solubility, such as the addition of phosphate. Another part of the project will look at the solubility of lead phosphate minerals.
According to the university, the model will take account of factors such as the alkalinity of the water and allow prediction of lead levels, allowing Yorkshire Water to review its current reduction strategies at treatment plants.
Yorkshire Water’s action on lead has included a £13 million project undertaken mostly during 2016 to replace lead pipes affecting some 20,000 homes in cities across its region.
- UK, municipal water, lead