The Water-WISER CDT Challenge Week 2020 took place in Youlgreave in the Peak District, 7-10 January 2020, involving all Water-WISER CDT students, aligned PhD students, the Water-WISER CDT academic management team and a selection of industry representatives and experts.
This annual event is designed as a cohort-building activity for the CDT students, as well as a networking experience. Students had to orient themselves in the landscape and use the topography as data for a fictional scenario involving designing sanitation services for a community. Anne Blenkinsopp, CDT co-Director, has extensive knowledge of the local area and was able to call upon contacts within the community to brief students on aspects of history, hydrogeology, biodiversity and local industry.
Youlgreave is remarkable for having its own water company, one of the few such communities in the UK, and is thus an interesting case study. In addition, the limestone karst landscape has many features of interest, including spectacular rock outcrops, mineshafts and crystal clear rivers full of life. Severn Trent Water staff kindly arranged visits to Carsington Water (a reservoir and local beauty spot) and Hulland Ward treatment site, one of the first Vertical Flow Reedbed sewage treatment sites to be commissioned in the UK – an innovative, low energy, low maintenance nature-based solution to sewage treatment for rural communities (which make up a large proportion of Severn Trent Water’s network).
After touring the area and sites, students had to present to a panel of experts, for feedback and comment on their ideas. They also had to present on the progress of their PhD project idea development, to enable the CDT management team and experts to offer advice and guidance at this early stage (the students started the programme in September 2019 and this was their first progress milestone).