Dr Will Shepherd


Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Research Staff

CIV Will Shepherd
+44 114 222 5732

Full contact details

Dr Will Shepherd
Department of Civil and Structural Engineering
Room D106
Sir Frederick Mappin Building
Mappin Street
S1 3JD

Will became a Post-Doctoral Research Associate with the Pennine Water Group in 2003 following completion of his PhD entitled `Solute Mixing in CSO Structures´.

Will’s research interests predominantly surround urban drainage and areas of expertise include:

  • Monitoring and modelling of hydraulics and water quality in urban drainage systems.
  • Application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in urban drainage.
  • Modelling of surface water flooding.
  • Laboratory and field testing of urban drainage and water distribution infrastructure.
  • Application of rainfall radar to urban drainage.
  • Solute tracing and analysis for determination of travel time and dispersion parameters.
  • Application of GIS for visualisation and assessment of overland flow paths and flooding.
  • Asset performance modelling.
Research interests

Current research

Pipebots, or Pervasive Sensing for Buried Pipes, is an EPSRC Programme Grant. Pipebots is developing robotic sensing technologies to map and assess the condition and performance of the buried pipes that form both drinking water distribution systems and urban drainage networks.

Will is working on Theme 8 which will: work with the water industry to ensure the robotic technologies meet industry needs; test the developed robots in large scale laboratory and controlled field environments; and develop methodologies to transform the new data into actionable knowledge.

PLEXUS is an EPSRC project that aims to jump start the collaboration between the facilities funded by the laboratories strand of the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure in Cities (UKCRIC).

The project is organised into four research challenges; the work at Sheffield is focussed on Research Challenge 2 – Harvesting Energy from Buried Infrastructure. Will is undertaking experiments at the National Distributed Water Infrastructure Facility at ICAIR to better understand heat transfer between buried pipes and the surrounding ground.

Previous research
  • CENTAUR - Cost Effective Neural Technique for Alleviation of Urban flood Risk was a European Union Horizon 2020 (H2020) research and innovation project.
  • This project developed an innovative, cost effective, local autonomous sewer flow control system, to reduce urban flood risk. Will managed the project on a day to day basis and played an active role in developing and testing the Fuzzy Logic algorithms used to control flow. CENTAUR won ‘Most Innovative New Technology of the Year’ at the 2018 Water Industry Awards.
  • QUICS - Quantifying Uncertainty in Integrated Catchment Studies was an EU funded FP7 Initial Training Network co-ordinated at Sheffield and project managed by Will. The project involved 9 key partners across the EU where 12 PhD fellows and 4 Post-Docs investigated the uncertainty of integrated catchment model water quality predictions and provided guidance and tools for practitioners to take this into account when using these models.
  • Cloud to Coast was a NERC funded project seeking to develop a new integrated model to predict the exposure to and the health impact assessment of pathogen risks, as indexed by Faecal Indicator Organisms (FIOs), in near-shore coastal waters. Will was responsible for investigating and modelling FIO inputs from the urban drainage network.
  • CSO Analytics was funded by a UK Water Company and applied Artificial Intelligence techniques to better understand the performance of combined sewer overflows in near real time and thus minimise unconsented discharges to water courses.
  • EU INTERREG IVB – FloodResilienCity. Involvement included the development of methodologies to apply 1D-2D hydraulic models for the prediction of urban flood extents in two catchments, supervising a PDRA to run hydraulic models and process results, and liaison with Environment Agency to enable acceptance of enhanced flood outlines.
  • EU INTERREG IVB – SKINT. Use of LiDAR data and mapping within ArcMap to determine catchment areas draining to road gullies, researching road gully design, field study to assess gully performance and management options.
  • Contaminant Ingress in Distribution Systems. Laboratory and modelling study investigating the potential for ingress of pollutants into water distribution systems. Will carried out laboratory testing and analysed the resulting data, showing the effects of leak size on the dissipation of transients, assessing the significance of the media surrounding the pipe and helping to prove that ingress of contaminants is possible.
  • Yorkshire Water Strategic Catchments. Long term monitoring of two sewerage catchments to assess the extent of monitoring required to gain improvements in system performance.
  • Performance of Storm Tanks and Potential for Improvements in Overall Storm Management. Phases 1 and 2 – included literature review, review of current practice, alternative technologies, field and laboratory tracer testing and quality sampling, development of modelling tool to predict pollutant retention performance. Funded by UKWIR.
  • Cost-S – Whole Life Costing of Sewerage Systems. Project involved development of tools to assess current and future performance of sewerage systems within a cost accounting framework. Personal involvement included development of asset performance models for the prediction of blockage and collapse events. Funded by EPSRC and UK water companies.