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PhD position in risk assessment and protection of drinking water sources

Chalmers Tekniska Högskola AB - Göteborg - Publicerad: 2019-01-11 15:28:58

The Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering has about 290 employees encompassing a broad theoretical knowledge base, from engineering science to the social sciences to the humanities, as well as design-based, artistic research. The combination of all of these perspectives allows for great interdisciplinary advancement in the field and a broader discussion of various aspects of sustainability. Together, we provide a comprehensive environment for architecture and civil engineering, well equipped to take on the common challenges of building a sustainable future.

Information about the division
The Division of Geology and Geotechnics covers several major areas of applied sciences, such as drinking water, hydrogeology, remediation of contaminated land, engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, and have close collaboration with neighbouring sciences, such as mathematics, statistics, and economics. This PhD position is part of the Engineering Geology Research (EGR) group. The group focuses on risk assessment and decision analysis model development for drinking water protection, remediation of contaminated sites and infrastructure. The explicit goal of the EGR group is to have a multi- and transdisciplinary scientific approach necessary for environmental risk management research, combining engineering, geoscience, economics, mathematical statistics and decision analysis in close collaboration with industry and authorities.

The project is also linked to the research centre DRICKS ( and as a PhD student you will be part of this collaboration. DRICKS is a research centre for drinking water supply, managed by Chalmers University of Technology, but includes researchers from several universities in Sweden. The research within DRICKS is focused on the entire supply chain and there is a close collaboration with the Swedish drinking water sector, including both authorities and water utilities.

Information about the project
The supply of drinking water is of primary importance in society. Public health and economic development rely on access to and the quality of drinking water. Waters resources are a key part of the drinking water supply but also constitute a necessary part in the supply of other goods and services, such as food products, energy and cultural and aesthetic services. Drinking water systems are, however, exposed to a wide range of risks due to e.g. human activities, societal development, aging infrastructure and climate change. Industrial and agricultural activities, accidents, infrastructure projects, and urban development in general may cause harm to water sources. Proper risk assessments and prioritization of source water protection is thus needed.

This PhD project is part of a research project entitled Water Plan – Risk-based prioritization of water protection in sustainable spatial planning. The aim of the project is to enable a well-informed analyses and prioritization of measures for protecting drinking water sources as part of future urban development. The economic value of a safe access to source water of good quality will be combined with risk assessment for evaluating protective measures in spatial planning.

Major project parts are: (1) Characterization of drinking water sources and development of risk assessment methods; (2) Economic valuation of protective measures for drinking water sources; and (3) Decision analysis of water protective measures. The PhD project is focused on parts 1 and 3, i.e. to identify and describe services and risks related to different types of water sources. This also includes the important part of developing suitable methods for assessing risks to water sources and in part 3 combine risk assessment results and the economic value of water protection to provide useful decision support.  The work will be based on several case studies in Sweden.

Various water protection actions are implemented in Sweden in accordance with Swedish and EU legislations and norms, e.g. water protection areas. However, a deficiency in prioritization and design of risk reduction measures in Sweden is a lacking of a basis to motivate the measures, considering positive and negative effects on society. This project will provide new insights on how to better analyse and prioritize drinking water source protection, necessary for obtaining a spatial planning which enables sustainable future urban development and protection of ecosystem services.

Major responsibilities
Your major responsibility is to pursue your own doctoral studies. You are expected to develop your own scientific concepts and communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing. The position includes research at an 80–100% level where the remaining part is teaching and departmental work. The applicants are expected to contribute to the education at undergraduate or MSc level and/or other activities within the division (up to 20% of their time).

Position summary
The position is a full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of four years of studies and to a maximum of five years including teaching and departmental work.

Application procedure
For more information and to apply, please go to:

Application deadline: 15 February, 2019

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