Professor Howard Fallowfield


College of Science and Engineering

place Health Sciences Building (5.22)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Professor Fallowfield is an aquatic microbial ecologist. His research focus is health aspects of water quality, which has been conducted across a range of aquatic environments including drinking water, wastewater and recreational waters. Howard has some 25 year's research experience in the UK and Australia, designing, constructing, operating and evaluating the performance of pilot plants for both drinking water and wastewater treatment. Successful research projects include the design and operation of high rate algal ponds (HRAPs) for the treatment of abattoir wastewater; construction and evaluation of new HRAP designs for the treatment of wastewater from rural communities in South Australia. The application of HRAPs for the treatment of wastewaters and on-site biomass energy production is also a current research project. A further research interest is the remediation of drinking water and groundwater contaminated with inorganic nitrogen, pharmaceuticals and personal care products using biological filters.

BSc (Hons)  in Microbiology & Food Science, University of Leeds, UK.
PhD  in freshwater microbial ecology.University of Dundee, Scotland.
Honours, awards and grants

In 2017 I was a member of the Environmental Health Team, with Dr Kirstin Ross and Dr Harriet Whiley, presented with the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching

Key responsibilities

Within the College of Science and Engineering Prof. Fallowfield is coordinator of Research Higher Degrees associated with environmental sciences and the Health and Environment Group.

Research expertise
Environmental biotechnology
Environmental engineering
Water contaminant remediation
Research interests

My research focusses on exploiting aquatic microbial ecology for the treatment of drinking water and wastewater. I have significant experience in both UK and Australia, designing, constructing, operating and evaluating the performance of lagoon systems (including waste stabilisation ponds and high rate algal ponds - HRAPs) for the treatment of domestic and agri-food wastewaters. Much of the research is conducted at pilot-demonstration scale. Our research on the performance of two HRAPs treating wastewater in a rural South Australian community, following independent validation, lead to regulatory approval and wider adoption of this sustainable technology in South Australia. The HRAP research has recently extended to the integration of treatment and sustainable on-site algal biomass energy production and to the managment of risk associated with treated wastewater reuse for agriculture in the Asia-Pacific region. Understanding the influence of operational and environmental parameters on the mechanisms for the removal of mrobial pathogens in treatment systems is of particular interest.

Integrated anaerobic-aerobic and algal treatment of piggery wastewaters is also a current area of research using a purpose built pilot scale treatment system funded via membership of the High Integrity Australian Pork CRC

This expertise is recognised internationally through membership of the Scientific Organising Committee for five of the International Water Association's Specialist Group Conference on Wastewater Pond Technologies and as Chair of the Organising Committee for the 9th specialist conference held in Adelaide in 2011. The HRAP research is also supporting the implementation of the WHO Sanitation Planning Manual through contribution to the Global Water Pathogen Project.

My group also conducts research on the performance of constructed wetlands integrated with Managed Aquifer Recharge Schemes. The focus is on the removal of microorganisms, phamaceuticals and personal care products by these integrated systems.

Teaching interests

My contribution to teaching reflects my expertise and interest in microbial ecology, particularly of aquatic environments, which have the potential to influence human health. Water quality and the treatment of wastewater, drinking water and stormwater is a specific focus together with the eutrophication of freshwater and the impact and management of cyanobacterial blooms.

Topic coordinator
ENVS9731 Public Health Aspects of Water Quality
ENVH9732 Legislation Relevant to Environmental Health
Topic lecturer
ENGR8951 Hydraulic and Water Engineering
ENVH7742 Microbiology and Communicable Disease
ENGR3851 Hydraulic and Water Engineering
ENVS9731 Public Health Asoects of Water Quality
ENVH2712 Environmental Change and Human Health
ENVS9770 Water Resources Management Minor Research Project
ENVS9760 Water Resources Management Industry Placement
EASC1101 Earth and Environmental Sciences
ENVS9730 Water Resources Management Major Research Project
Supervisory interests
Drinking water treatment
Environmental microbiology
Health aspects of water quality
Wastewater pond technology
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Behaviour of chemicals of concern in managed aquifer recharge schemes, Exploitation of wastewater grown algal biomass for energy production (1), Improved pathogen removal from high rate algal ponds (1), Beneficial wastewater irrigation (1), Microbial ecology of high rate algal ponds for wastewater treatment (1), Attenuation of viruses in managed aquifer recharge schems (1)
Associate supervisor: Mechanism of pathogen die-off in wastewater treatment lagoons (1)
Principal supervisor: Carbon budgets for treatment lagoons (2), Water treatment using a nitrifying biofilter (2), Cyanobacterial toxin production; removal by bank filtration (2), Microbial induced corrosion of copper pipe (1), Strategies for the removal of suspended solids from waste stabilisation ponds (1), Integrating biological and hydraulic aspects of waste stabilisation pond design (2), Isolation of Campylobacter from chicken (1), Performance of a flat plate airlift photobioreactor (1), Computer modelling of high rate algal ponds (1), Nitrogen cycling in waste stabilisation ponds (1), Photosynthesis in wastewater treatment lagoons (4), Exploitation of wastewater grown algal biomass for energy production (1), Water treatment using nitrifying and denitrifying filters (1), Comparison of waste stabilisation pond and high rate algal pond wastewater treatment perfomance — Principal (1) (1)
Associate supervisor: Origin of pollution determined by faecal steriod analysis (1), Microbial risk assessment of recreational, drinking and ruse waters (3), Microbial risk assessment of wastewater irrigated vegetables (1)
Expert for media contact
Community/Public Health
Waste Treatment
Water Resources
Public Health Aspects of Water Quality
Waste Water Treatment
Water Quality
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Community/Public Health
  • Environment
  • Toxicology/Toxins
  • Waste Treatment
  • Water Resources
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Public Health Aspects of Water Quality
  • Waste Water Treatment
  • Water Quality
Further information

Validation of wastewater treatment in a rural South Australian community using high rate algal ponds (HRAPs), International ICEWaRMwebinar August 2016

ICEWaRM webinar July 2017 Community Waste Water Reuse with High Rate Algal Ponds HRAP #2 considers treatment mechanisms

ICEWaRM Webinar July 2018

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