Dr Paul Kay


I am an Associate Professor in Water Quality. My research investigates the impacts of land-use on hydrology and water quality. More specifically, I have focused on three main areas; 1. the occurence, fate and effects of emerging contaminants in the environment, 2. the impact of agriculture on water quality and the effectiveness of stewardship measures, and 3. the effects of dams on rivers. I have, thus, worked on a variety of pollutants including microplastics, human and veterinary pharmaceuticals, pesticides, nutrients, DOC and sediment. This work has been funded by a variety of organisations including NERC, EPSRC, Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England and Yorkshire Water.

  • To understand the impacts of agriculture on hydrology and water quality and the effectiveness of land management strategies.
  • To quantify the fate and effects of emerging contaminants in the water environment.

My research focuses on the impacts of land-use on hydrology and water quality. Particular attention has been given to the effects of agriculture and I have researched the fate and effects of a range of pollutants, including nutrients, pesticides, veterinary medicines and sediment. Impacts on flooding have also been studied. Other work has investigated the impacts of upland land management on the delivery of sediment to reservoirs. Also in the uplands, I have undertaken several projects looking at dissolved organic carbon in surface waters. All of these projects have focussed on the development of sustainable land management strategies to improve water quality. To this end, I have carried out research for a range of key organisations, including Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural England, the water industry and the European Commission.


  • Programme Manager MSc River Basin Dynamics and Management

Research interests

Derwent Strategic Monitoring Review


Funded by NERC iCASP and Environment Agency

2018 – 2019 Review and analysis of available water quality monitoring data. Future monitoring strategies.


Using Critical Zone Science to Enhance Soil Fertility and Improve Ecosystem Services for Peri-Urban Agriculture in China

Funded by NERC and CSF
2016 - 2020 Occurence and fate of micropollutants in organic amendments, soil and water in peri-urban China. Development of biosensors for micropollutant monitoring


Sullied Sediments

Funded by EU
2017 - 2020 Investigating the occurence, fate and effects of emerging contaminants in river sediments


Welsh Water National Environment Programme

Funded by Welsh Water
2017 - 2018 Reviewing Welsh Water's National Environment Programme submission prior to PR19

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Hydrology/water quality, Cranfield University
  • MSc, Integrated Water Planning, Middlesex University
  • BSc (Hons) Geography, University of Northumbria

Professional memberships

  • Chartered Scientist (CSci)
  • Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv)
  • Member of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (MCIWEM).
  • Member of the British Hydrological Society

Student education

PhD Supervision

I would be interested in supervising PhDs on topics such as:

  • Hydrology and water quality
  • Microplastics
  • Emerging contaminants

Current PhD students

  • John Nightingale: Managing emerging contaminants from agriculture.
  • Wayne Duffus: Occurence and fate of emerging contaminants in river sediments.
  • Oloyede Adekolurejo: Ecological effects of cyanobacteria toxins.
  • Sarah Letsinger: Occurence and effects of pharmaceuticals in the marine environment.
  • Olatayo Ogunbanwo: Occurence and effects of pharmaceuticals in Nigerian rivers.

Research groups and institutes

  • River Basin Processes and Management

Current postgraduate research students

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/research-opportunities">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>