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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Water | doi: 10.3389/frwa.2021.641462

Integrated modelling to support analysis of COVID-19 impacts on London's water system and in-river water quality Provisionally accepted The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon. Notify me

 Barnaby Dobson1*, Tijana Jovanovic2, Yuting Chen1,  Athanasios Paschalis1, Adrian Butler1 and  Ana Mijic1
  • 1Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • 2British Geological Survey, The Lyell Centre, United Kingdom

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, citizens of the United Kingdom were required to stay at home for many months in 2020. In the weeks before and months following lockdown, including when it was not being enforced, citizens were advised to stay at home where possible. As a result, in a megacity such as London, where long-distance commuting is common, spatial and temporal changes to patterns of water demand are inevitable. This, in turn, may change where people’s waste is treated and ultimately impact the in-river quality of effluent receiving waters. To assess large scale impacts, such as COVID-19, at the city scale, an integrated modelling approach that captures everything between households and rivers is needed. A framework to achieve this is presented in this study and used to explore changes in water use and the associated impacts on wastewater treatment and in-river quality as a result of government and societal responses to COVID-19. Our modelling results revealed significant changes to household water consumption under a range of impact scenarios, however, significant impacts on pollutant concentrations in household wastewater were only seen in central London. Pollutant concentrations in rivers were shown to be most sensitive in the tributaries of the River Thames, highlighting the vulnerability of smaller rivers and the important role that they play in diluting pollution. Ammonia and phosphates were found to be the pollutants that rivers were most sensitive to because their main source in urban rivers is domestic wastewater that was significantly altered during the imposed mobility restrictions. A model evaluation showed that we can accurately validate individual model components (i.e., water demand generator). A model evaluation showed that we can accurately validate individual model components (i.e., water demand generator) and emphasised need for continuous water quality measurements. Ultimatly, the work provides a basis for further developments of water systems integration approaches to project changes under never-before seen scenarios.

Keywords: Integrated modelling, urban water cycle, Water Quality, Water Pollution, wastewater modelling, COVID-19, water demand, End-use modeling

Received: 14 Dec 2020; Accepted: 05 Mar 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Dobson, Jovanovic, Chen, Paschalis, Butler and Mijic. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Barnaby Dobson, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom, barnaby.dobson1@gmail.com