Research Activities

Research projects include:
  • Ecohydrological characterisation of wetlands in the border region of Ireland. Forming part of the EU funded Tellus Border project: A Geo-environmetal survey of the North of Ireland Tellus Border . Collaborators: GSI, GSNI, QUB .
  • Field Investigation of the potential impact of on-site wastewater treatment systems (OSWTS) on surface water quality.Collaborators: QUB, UCD.
  • Feasibility study on the use of novel approaches to tracking faecal contamination from OSWTS.
  • An investigation into the use of Integrated Constructed Wetlands to treat domestic wastewater: Performance, Processes and Implications for Groundwater. Collaborators: University of Salford .
  • A paleolimnological investigation of a series of inter drumlin lakes in Co. Monaghan, Ireland.


Ecohydrological characterisation of wetlands in the border region of Ireland (Tellus Border Project)

There is a lack of baseline data for the full range of Irish wetlands and there remains limited understanding of how anthropogenic and climactic induced hydrological pressures impact on these local wetland systems. In addition, there is a need to develop our understanding of the relationship between hydrogeological and ecological characteristics particularly of groundwater dependent ecosystems.

Currently available data will be used in conjuction with newly-collected field data from selected sites, to investigate the water delivery mechanisms and water requirements (notably water levels and hydrochemistry) of different types of regional wetlands across the counties of the border region. 

The biological communities within selected wetland systems will be described and chraracterised. Emphasis will be placed on developing an understanding of the relationships between hydrogeology, hydrology and ecology allowing a more holistic understanding of wetland systems. By synthesising data and methods from different fields of sciences (i.e. ecology and hydrology) new insights into the functioning of ecosystems can be obtained.

The project forms part of the Tellus Border project which is funded by the INTERREG IVA development programme of the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project is a joint initiative between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI), the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI), DkIT and Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB).

Postdoctoral Researcher: Dr Alec Rolston

 
Wetland Site

Field investigation of the potential impact of on-site wastewater treatment systems (OSWTS) on surface water quality

It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 on-site wastewater treatment systems (OSWTS) in Ireland. Poorly constructed, installed, maintained and operated OSWTS, have the potential to be among the many sources of pollution to both groundwater and surface water. This project aims to acquire an understanding of the likely risk posed by OSWTS to water quality within an Irish catchment. The study focused on a poorly drained area where the impact of diffuse contamination on water quality has warranted more detailed investigation of wastewater delivery mechanisms to surface water bodies.


This project aimed to develop:

  • An increased understanding of the risk posed by OSWTS to surface water.
  • To provide quantifiable data on the contribution of OSWTS to nutrient loading within the catchment.


 

An investigation into the use of Integrated Constructed Wetlands to treat domestic wastewater

The Integrated Constructed Wetland (ICW) plant on the grounds of the Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough (Co. Monaghan, Ireland) has been in operation since January 2008. ICWs have been operated successfully to treat farmyard runoff following best management practice. ICWs are designed to have low capital and operational costs, high treatment efficiency, optimal integration into the landscape, and to have ecosystem and biodiversity enhancement benefits. However, the application of ICW as the main treatment unit for large-scale domestic wastewater treatment plants is novel, and concerns need to be addressed that these ICW do not pollute groundwater and receiving watercourses. This study will provide the bench-mark and design criteria for further natural wastewater treatment systems in Ireland, UK and beyond. The site has been monitored since February 2008 in order to determine its functioning and potential impact on nearby surface water and groundwater bodies.

Postgraduate Researcher: Mawuli Dzakpasu


 

Feasibility study on the use of novel approaches to tracking faecal contamination from OSWTS

Work is currently on-going at study sites in Co. Monaghan to develop methodologies which can be used to distinguish between contamination arising from domestic wastewater and that arising from other sources such as agricultural run-off. These methods may potentially represent a cost effective, accurate and easily applied technique for effectively establishing the source of organic pollution to both surface and ground water.

Postgraduate Researcher: Patrick Rafferty


 

A paleolimnological investigation of a series of inter drumlin lakes in Co. Monaghan, Ireland.


In Ireland there are approximately 5,500 group water schemes (GWS’s) servicing 170,000 households throughout the country. Largely due to the efforts of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes (NFGWS), it is now realised throughout the sector that the key to reducing water treatment costs and problems, involves protecting water at source. In this project four small, shallow lakes in County Monaghan which are used as abstraction points for local GWS’s have been selected to undergo a paleolimnological investigation. This approach uses a combination of lake sediment analysis and catchment export coefficients to hind cast past conditions and relate any associated change with alterations in climate and catchment. Three of the lakes in question are surrounded by intensively farmed drumlin catchments (Baird Shore, Killcorran Lough, Moynalty Lough), whilst the fourth is an upland lake with limited catchment pressures. 



Postgraduate Researcher: Patrick McCabe