People involved

Gemma Carr

Stakeholder involvement and integrated water resource management

Lukas Egle

Identifying the potential for phosphorous recycling

Adam Kovacs

Modelling phosphorous movement and transfer

Linda Kuil

Socio-hydrology and systems analysis

Katerina Schilling

Foam in the aquatic environment

Alicja Sobantka

Developing the statistical entropy concept for chemical compounds

Simon Thaler

Impacts of human diet on nutrient management

Eleni Yeshaneh

Impacts of land use change on hydrology in Ethiopia

Ottavia Zoboli

Modelling the Austrian phosphorous budget

Selected publications

Carr, G., Loucks, D.P. and Bloeschl, G. 2012. Evaluating participation in water resource management: A review.  Water Resources Research, 48, W11401.

Kovacs, A., Fulop, B. and Honti, M.  2012. Detection of hot spots of soil erosion and reservoir siltation in ungauged Mediterranean catchments. Energy Procedia, 18, 934 – 943.

Schilling, K., Bletterie,U., Kroiss, H. and Zessner, M. 2012. Adapting the Austrian Edict on wastewater emissions for tanneries as consequence of foam formation on surface waters. Environmental Science and Policy, 23, 68-73

Sobantka, A., Zessner, M. and Rechberger, H. 2012. The extension of statistical entropy analysis to chemical compounds. Entropy, 14, 2413-2426.

Thaler, S., Zessner, M., Bertran De Lis, F., Kreuzinger, N. and Fehringer, R. 2012. Considerations on methodological challenges for water footprint calculations. Water Science & Technology, 65 (7), 1258 – 1264.


Research supervisors


Prof. Matthias Zessner
Prof. Helmut Rechberger




Dr. Adrienne Clement, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Hungary

Dr. Ines Dombrowsky, German Development Institute, Germany

Prof. Bernd Hansjürgens, Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Leipzig, Germany

Dr. Mark Honti, EAWAG, Switzerland

Prof. Marie-Noëlle Pons, University of Lorraine, France

Research › Water resource management


Appropriate management of water resources is critical to meet human and ecosystem needs for now and the future. This group explore how human activities influence water resource systems, and how these systems can be managed.

Phosphorous dynamics

Phosphorous is applied to agricultural land to optimise crop yields. After application it can reach streams and rivers where it can be detrimental for ecosystem health. However, phosphorous is also a limited resource. Understanding its dynamics, as both a threat and a resource, is a major research component of the management cluster group.


Adam Kovacs is modelling phosphorous movement through catchments to reach streams and rivers and identifying locations and strategies that may reduce phosphorous loss. Surprisingly, he found that changing the land management in a small percentage of a catchment can drastically reduce phosphorous concentrations in the stream (see Research highlight). Simon Thaler’s work has shown that a reduction in meat consumption in Austria could radically reduce water pollution by nitrogen and phosphorous. A proportion of the phosphorous is also taken up by crops and enters the food chain, where it will likely end up in the sludge fraction of a wastewater treatment plant. Lucas Egle’s research is exploring ways that phosphorous can be recovered from sewage sludge through physical and chemical techniques, and recycled in agriculture. His is developing a methodology to evaluate different phosphorous recovery techniques according to technical, economic and ecological criteria.

Alicja Sobantka’s is developing and testing the potential use of statistical entropy as a measure to assess the efficiency by which agricultural systems and wastewater treatment plants operate to minimise losses. Ottavia Zoboli is modelling phosphorous dynamics in Austria using material flow analysis to identify phosphorous fluxes, stocks and transformations.

This collection of work is emphasising both the challenges of phosphorous management, and the possibilities when a wide range of non-conventional strategies are considered (e.g. diet modification, recovery and recycling, farm scale management methods).


Informing policy

Eleni Yeshaneh is dealing with an issue that is extremely important in many parts of the world – land degradation due to deforestation, agriculture, and other pressures. Her research in the Blue Nile Basin in Ethiopia is exploring land use change using remote sensing and field work data (for example sediment load). She is predicting the extent and risk of soil erosion under various management strategies to assist in developing land management policies.


A very different situation has been examined by Katerina Schilling. She recently completed her PhD on river surface foam emitted by wastewater treatment plants. Studying foam formation processes in detail allowed her to develop a new foam index that describes foam potential in rivers. Her work contributed to the development of appropriate policy to address foaming problems in a transnational river system.


Water and people

Gemma Carr is exploring mechanisms of water governance, specifically how stakeholders and the public participate in water management. Her work is focussed around evaluating the value of involvement. Research findings have highlighted that changes in water quality or a reduction in conflict over water can be difficult to measure over short timescales. But intangible outcomes, such as innovation and trust are more easily measured and can be used to help derive effective and efficient integrated water resource management strategies.
Aspects of conflict and cooperation relating to water scarcity are being investigated by Linda Kuil who is developing a novel approach to model the interaction between humans and water (socio-hydrology). For example, how water scarcity affects socio-economics and how the socio-economic response further reduces or exaggerates water scarcity. Through examining these coupled responses for a variety of cultural and temporal settings, she is able to recognise similarities and differences, and suggest rationale for the relationships identified (see Modelling).


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