ESR4: The resilience of wastewater treatment to multiple stress conditions


Resilience is the capacity of a system to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of unforeseen changes. Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses (urban expansion) and acute shocks (floods) they experience. The concept originated from the field of ecology (Folke, 2006) but the engineering sector is reshaping and incorporating it into the planning and design of urban infrastructure. Recent debates place resilience in the core of sustainability, as systems need to become resilient to become sustainable (Moddemeyer, 2015), with the ambition that resilience is considered a boundary concept in sustainability research (Olsson et al., 2015).

With growing interest from utilities, practitioners, and researchers in the incorporation of resilience into urban wastewater treatment systems, it is important to develop projects to study and implement resilience theory into wastewater treatment research.



The goal of the thesis is to study how resilience theory can be applied in the urban wastewater sector, to improve current management and contribute to the sustainability of the sector. This will be achieved by reviewing the current status in the water sector, by developing a model-based approach to demonstrate the incorporation or resilience theory, and the illustration of the proposed the usefulness of the approach by applying it to a benchmark case-study. It is also planned to study the role of resilience in the framework of Life’s design guideline from the perspective of wastewater treatment.


Expected Results:

  1. Identification of the role of water research in the resilience paradigm and future challenges for its implementation in wastewater asset management plans.
  2. A guideline towards incorporation of resilience in the wastewater sector, which brings consensus on resilience definition, includes all the elements of a resilience assessment and is directly applicable to industry. This will cover: stressors characterisation (including a report on the most important ones), outline of resilience qualities, resilience metrics and proposed measures.
  3. A model-based approach to evaluate resilience measures in WWTPs. This approach will consist of a procedure, set of computing tools, stressors characterisation, and also metrics proposed to evaluate resilience in a case study.