Josie Ashe

Project: Using continuous time-series data to build a framework for catchment-scale water resource management 

Supervisors: Professors Dragan Savic and Richard Brazier 

Project Abstract

In order to reduce the potential impact of water-stress and poor water quality on ecosystem services and human health, it is vital that we improve understanding of how freshwater systems function. Furthermore, to ensure the provision of clean and wholesome water (while minimising disinfection by-products), water companies must stay well informed about how changes in catchment conditions, climate, and emerging pollutants may impact the quality of raw water supplying treatment works. Currently a wealth of complex data from catchment wide monitoring is available, yet often poorly synthesised. Such data are capable of capturing multiple scales of spatial and temporal variability. The challenge is to build from these data, and from established modelling approaches, a framework for extracting the information value in order to: understand how the ecohydrological and chemical functioning of catchments responds to change in real-time; support improvements in land and water management; make informed and efficient operational water treatment decisions; and explore the cost–benefit complexities of the water industry’s work at a catchment scale.

Josie’s Research Poster

Find out more about Josie’s research here and read Josie’s student blog.

Research Interests

  • Environmental geochemistry
  • Water quality
  • Landscape restoration
  • Peatland hydrology
  • Telemetry systems
  • Hydroinfomatics


Josie’s research with WISE and the Centre for Water Systems at Exeter University supports work with South West Water’s Upstream Thinking Partnership. This looks at the impact of land management and soft engineering practises on raw water quality at water treatment works; improving understand of how changes in diffuse pollution can affect treatment processes and costs. Josie also works closely with the Mires Partnership research group at Exeter University based in the College of Life and Environmental Science. This involves working with the University’s high density hydrological monitoring in upland catchments as part of an ongoing assessment of the effect of landscape restoration on water storage, water quality and wider ecosystem services.

Before joining the Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Informatics: Science and Engineering (WISE) in 2014, Josie worked for the University of Exeter as research technician on the Mires Project. Between 2009 and 2013 she spent 4 years as an analyst at the renewable energy agency Regen SW, and prior to completing her MSc she worked as a geo-environmental engineer at Scott Wilson/URS. Josie received a first class grade in Water Informatics through the postgraduate WISE CDT. She holds an MSc in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis, and a BSc in Environmental Earth Science from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.