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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment

Christiana and Sakthy.jpg

PhD students from the Engineering Department win the ICE Environmental Engineering and Science Prize (Journal Prize for best paper in journal). Christiana and Sakthy, as lead authors, will receive their award at the ICE Awards Ceremony in October.

Each year, ICE Publishing acknowledges the best work published in their journals – awarding work judged to be of exceptional quality and benefit to the civil engineering, construction and materials science community.

This year the Environmental Engineering and Science Prize has been awarded to the paper titled ‘Sustainable decentralised wastewater treatment schemes in the context of Lobitos, Peru’, the first authors of which are University of Cambridge PhD students, Christiana Smyrilli, in the EPSRC CDT in Future Infrastructure and the Built Environment, and Sivasakthy Selvakumaran, in the Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology.

“We are delighted to be receiving this award as a recognition of our work, both in terms of research as well as in terms of practice. EcoSwell was set-up with the core mindset of contributing to the community of Lobitos, in Peru, and this paper was the result of an intervention to improve sanitation in the community."

We are very happy to win the ICE award with a paper that demonstrates that civil engineering is at the heart of improving quality of life, and that as engineers we should always be mindful of the communities we work in."

                                                                                       - Christiana Smyrilli

"I would personally like to thank Sakthy as my co-author, as well as the EcoSwell team and all the research participants”.

Congratulations to everyone who contributed to this award-winning paper. More on EcoSwell can be found here ( A full list of the awarded journal papers can be found at Read the full paper here.

Smyrilli C, Selvakumaran S, Alderson M et al. (2018) Sustainable decentralised wastewater treatment schemes in the context of Lobitos, Peru. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science 13(1): 8–16

‘The implementation of decentralised wastewater treatment systems, such as biodigesters, septic tanks and treatment ponds, provides opportunities for rural or remote communities to be self-reliant and avoid infrastructural connections to faraway urban areas. However, the effectiveness, sustainability and success of such systems is heavily tied to understanding the overall context (geographical, social, cultural, political and economic) in which they are installed, as well as the ease of their operation and maintenance in the long term. Shortcomings to addressing these aspects can lead to the failure of a project. Using the town of Lobitos, located in the Piura District on the northern coast of Peru, as the case study for this research, this paper is discussing and analysing the use of biodigesters as a more sustainable solution over larger municipal wastewater systems in the context of Lobitos. It explains reasons, such as community engagement, behind past failures of such systems and outlines lessons learned from a practitioner’s perspective. It concludes that addressing the local context as well as considering its impact throughout the project cycle, such as installation and future operation and maintenance, helps to ensure continued delivery of safe and sustainable wastewater treatment.’

>> Read more in the open-access paper, here.