Michael Attains Masters Degree with Distinction!
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July 18, 2019

Hydrologist, Michael Underwood graduated from the University of Birmingham this week with an MSc in River Environments and their Management. Michael’s course was funded by Envireau Water and was completed on a part-time basis, over 2 years alongside his technical role as Hydrologist. The hard work clearly paid off as Michael achieved a distinction for the MSc!

The course focused on examining the interactions between climate, hydrology, geomorphology, biogeochemical cycling, water resources, and river ecology – all important considerations as part of Michael’s role at Envireau Water.

Key aspects of the course involved gaining a scientific and practical understanding of how these interactions act to influence the functioning of river systems at different scales, the role of human activities in altering such interactions, and importantly how natural and anthropogenic disturbances may be measured, mitigated or managed effectively.

Michael’s three main highlights of his time on the course:

  • Bourn Brook River Monitoring – The purpose of this study was to assess the current river habitat and water quality of the Bourn Brook, a tributary of the River Rea within the context of the Water Framework Directive classification status. This involved completing a River Habitat Survey, using the latest digital water quality multiparameter probes to measure common chemical indicators of water quality, and collecting water samples for laboratory analyses of nitrates, phosphates and suspended sediments.

  • River Restoration in Derbyshire – On an exceedingly wet day in March 2017, Michael and the group visited several river restoration projects being undertaken by the Haddon Estate on the River Lathkill at Lathkill Dale, Derbyshire. The River Lathkill has a history of trout fishing dating back to the 18th Century during which time a number of trout fisheries were constructed. As part of the operation of fisheries, a large number of weirs were constructed to impound water and create ‘ponds’ as holding habitat. Reaches of the Lathkill were also clay lined, straightened and stabilised via brick-lined banks to maintain the fisheries and to reduce the risk of flooding associated with lead mining in Lathkill Dale. Since 2004, the fisheries have been abandoned and the Lathkill has been re-populated with wild brown trout. To support this population, numerous weirs along the Lathkill have been removed by the Estate over the last few years to increase connectivity and flow diversity. It was evident during the visit that removal of the weirs had done just that and there was now a collection of riffle-pool sequences which have created good spawning areas and habitat.

  • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) – The students enjoyed a very informative field trip at the CEH in Oxford. In the morning, the CEH team took the group to learn about their on-site meteorological station and the different types of monitoring instrumentation. Michael and the group also got a tour of the National River Flow Archive (NRFA), the UK’s focal point for river flow data and also got a chance to analyse some of the data. To round the day off, the group got a chance to see the ARC-Boat in action on the River Thames. ARC-Boat is a remote-controlled boat developed by HR Wallingford and used by the Environment Agency for river channel surveys and gauging.

Michael’s dissertation was entitled ‘Application of 2D hydrodynamic modelling for assessing the effectiveness of Natural Flood Management at a catchment scale’. The focus of the dissertation was the development and application of a high-resolution, whole catchment modelling and mapping technique within HEC-RAS 2D to generate detailed maps of overland runoff pathways and to determine the effects of a range of different NFM measures on flows within catchments. Michael presented a poster on his dissertation research at the British Hydrological Society’s event ‘NFM: Does it Work?’ and at the River Restoration Centre’s Annual Conference 2019. You can view Michael’s dissertation poster here.

Reflecting on his degree, Michael commented “The course has given me a huge deal of knowledge and practical experience that I’m looking forward to putting into practice with Envireau Water projects. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Envireau Water for sponsoring and encouraging me to undertake this course.”

Envireau Team are extremely proud of Michael, as we know how hard he has worked alongside his busy role at Envireau Water. CONGRATULATIONS Michael – what an achievement!

To find out more, or to congratulate Michael, contact him on michael@envireauwater.co.uk or 01332 871 876. To find out what it means to have a career at Envireau Water, click here.