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Natural sources of phenols and mitigation measures to reduce their release into the water environment

Mossy tree stump

The phenols of interest in this project are those that occur naturally in the environment, for example due to decomposition of organic matter, and those that enter the environment due to forest fires, muirburn or wildfires. There is limited understanding regarding the source of these natural sources of phenols in the environment, what triggers their release, or what can be done to limit their release, and whether any mitigation measures can be used to prevent them from entering the water environment. When phenols are present in drinking water catchments they can react with the chemicals used in the water treatment process, which may result in taste and odour problems at the customers’ tap.

This project aims to collate existing research on sources of natural phenols, triggers of their release and any mitigation measures relevant to drinking water sources in the Scottish Highlands, with a view to assessing and informing future management of phenols in Scottish drinking water catchments.

Project Objectives

  1. Identify any case studies where natural phenols have been identified and mitigation measures implemented, either successfully or unsuccessfully.
  2. Identify the main sources and controls of natural phenols in drinking water sources in the Scottish Highlands, with a specific focus on groundwater.
  3. Develop a risk assessment tool for different source types e.g. ground water, river intakes. This should include information on the key controls e.g. geology, geographical area, land classification (subject to available information).
  4. Identify potential mitigation measures to reduce the risk of natural phenols in the water environment.
  5. Deliver a report to share the findings.