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Colin O'Flynn


Project title: Simulating high frequency water quality data and testing the impacts of sediment and nutrient management options at the catchment scale.

Overview: This project is primarily focused on water resource management in Irish catchments. Colin will investigate different water quality issues, but mainly on agricultural runoff entering and polluting rivers. Only around half of all Irish surface water bodies are in satisfactory condition. Levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients associated with agricultural practices, are increasing at alarming rates. The worst impacted areas seem to be the south and south-east of the country, where diffuse pollution from agricultural sources is the main contributor. This project will study and simulate flow, nitrate, soluble reactive phosphorus, total P, and suspended sediment for multiple storm events.

Better catchment management requires:

  1. Understanding how and why nutrients and sediments are lost to the channel,
  2. And how manipulation of the upstream catchment can decrease that risk.

Hydrological flow pathway modelling can help catchment managers and policy makers address these issues. Newcastle University has developed CRAFT (The Catchment Runoff Attenuation Flux Toolkit), a model Colin will use and further develop throughout this project. This model can simulate the effect mitigation options such as sediment traps, wetlands, and Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM) will have on water quality. NWRM are now being trialled in various demonstration sites in Ireland.

Main research areas:

  • Hydrological modelling
  • Catchment science
  • Water quality
  • Water resource management
  • Natural flood management
  • Natural water retention measures

Programme area: Agricultural Catchments Programme

Supervisors: Dr. Per-Erik Mellander, Dr. Paul Quinn, Dr. Russell Adams, Dr. Jennine Jonczyk

Location: Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Research Centre, Co. Wexford

Funding source: Teagasc