Research trip to India supports water recycling project to relieve drought

An innovative scheme in India that uses treated wastewater to replenish drought-hit farmland has benefitted from the expertise of researchers from the University of the Highlands and Islands.

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Staff from Bangalore North University welcoming Dr Lalith Welamedage from UHI Centre for Living Sustainability (third from left); and Dr Lydia Niemi (fourth from left) and Dr.Mark Taggart (sixth from left) from UHI Environmental Research Institute

Dr Lalith Welamedage from the Centre for Living Sustainability based at UHI Inverness and Dr Mark Taggart and Dr Lydia Niemi, both from the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) based at UHI North, West and Hebrides Thurso campus, explored potential collaborations with Bangalore North University during the four-day trip.

They also researched the environmental and social implications of the innovative KC Valley water recycling scheme that uses treated wastewater to replenish groundwater in regions susceptible to drought. 

Dr Mark Taggart said: “We met with healthcare representatives, government engineers, scientists, and local farmers to discuss the effects of the wastewater recycling scheme on water quality, crop quality, agricultural yields, and public and environmental health in the region. This visit has facilitated positive engagement and knowledge exchange between UHI and Bangalore North University, identifying strong synergies and opportunities for future collaborative work.”

They also visited farms benefiting from the improved water supply and inspected of lakes and canals transporting recycled wastewater throughout the region. A seminar with a Q&A session at Bangalore North University’s multi-disciplinary postgraduate centre showcased UHI's expertise in environmental and social science research.

Highlights of the visit included a warm welcome from Professor Niranjana Vanalli, Bangalore North University Vice Chancellor, and a visit to the Kolar district food festival. 

The visit marked a significant milestone in a British Council-funded project aimed at fostering closer collaboration in environmental and social sciences research between UHI and Bangalore North University.

Professor Chris O’Neil, Principal and Chief Executive of UHI Inverness, said: “This was an excellent opportunity to learn more about this ground-breaking scheme and to share our research expertise in environmental science, water quality management and pollution to support communities around Bangalore, whilst expanding knowledge, research, and expertise to support our communities locally and regionally.”

Plans for further collaboration include developing long-term monitoring to assess the scheme's impact on environmental quality, agricultural productivity, and socioeconomic development in the region.