Dr Robert Ward

Policy director
BGS Keyworth


Dr Rob Ward joined BGS as Head of Groundwater Science in 2010 before being appointed Science Director in 2013. He is a hydrogeologist with over 25 years experience working in both groundwater science and environmental regulation. Prior to 2010 he was a Senior Technical Advisor at the Environment Agency and was responsible for delivering the groundwater elements of the European Water Framework Directive for the first River Basin Management Plans and supporting UK Government during negotiations on the Groundwater Directive. He was also responsible for designing and managing the national groundwater quality monitoring programme. Rob continues to support the European Commission as Science-Policy-Interface correspondent and through membership of its expert advisory group on groundwater (WG C). Rob holds a PhD in Hydrogeology and Environmental Radiochemistry awarded by the University of East Anglia.

Robert Ward’s Biography

  • 2013 – ongoing : Director of Science – Groundwater, BGS
  • 2010 –2013 : Head of Groundwater Science, BGS
  • 1999 –2010 : Principal Technical Advisor — Environment Agency
  • 1990 –1999 : Higher/Senior Scientific Officer, BGS
  • 1990 : PhD University of East Anglia; Natural and artificial groundwater tracers
  • 1985 : BSc (Hons) University of East Anglia, Environmental Science (Atmospheric and Aquatic Sciences)

Research interests

  • Aquifer property characterisation (hydraulic testing)
  • Conceptual modelling
  • Groundwater monitoring
  • Groundwater policy development and implementation
  • Groundwater tracer testing
  • Groundwater vulnerability and risk assessment
  • Landfill gas

Current projects and collaborations

  • Advisory Board member of EU FP7 GENESIS project: Groundwater and Dependent Ecosystems: New Scientific and Technological Basis for Assessing Climate Change and Land-use Impacts on Groundwater
  • Management of BGS Groundwater Science Programme
  • Member of EuroGeosurveys Water Expert Group — The association of European Geological Surveys
  • Science Management Team — NERC Storm Risk Mitigation and Changing Water Cycle Research Programmes
  • 2006 – ongoing : UK representative on European Commission Water Framework Directive Groundwater Working Group


  • Maltby, Edward; Ormerod, Steve; Acreman, Mike; Dunbar, Michael; Jenkins, Alan; Maberly, Stephen; Newman, Jonathan; Blackwell, Martin; Ward, Robert. 2011 Freshwaters : openwaters, wetlands and floodplains [chapter 9]. In: UK National Ecosystem Assessment: understanding nature’s value to society. Technical Report. Cambridge, UK, UNEP-WCMC, 295-360.
  • Taylor, Jonathan P.; Golding, Brian; Lisk, Ian; Gibbs, Mark; Langford, Harry; Reynard, Nick; Turner, Sarah; Wright, Tim; Rosen, Deborah; Pilling, Charles; Reeves, Helen; Kerridge, David; Loughlin, Susan; Macdonald, David; McKenzie, Andrew; Ward, Rob; Colenut, Andrew. 2015 Natural hazards. In: Observing the Earth: expert views on environmental observation for the UK. London, The Royal Society, 79-107.


Key papers

  • Bell, R.A.; Darling, W.G.; Ward, R.S.; Basava-Reddi, L.; Halwa, L.; Manamsa, K.; O Dochartaigh, B.E.O.. 2017 A baseline survey of dissolved methane in aquifers in Great Britain. Science of the Total Environment, 601-602. 1803-1813. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.05.191
  • Gooddy, Daren C.; Ascott, Matthew J.; Lapworth, Dan J.; Ward, Robert S.; Jarvie, Helen P.; Bowes, Mike J.; Tipping, Edward; Dils, Rachael; Surridge, Ben W.J.. 2017 Mains water leakage: implications for phosphorus source apportionment and policy responses in catchments. Science of the Total Environment, 579. 702-708. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.038
  • Ascott, M.J.; Wang, L.; Stuart, M.E.; Ward, R.S.; Hart, A.. 2015 Quantification of nitrate storage in the vadose (unsaturated) zone: a missing component of terrestrial N budgets. Hydrological Processes. 10.1002/hyp.10748
  • Mackay, J.D.; Jackson, C.R.; Brookshaw, A.; Scaife, A.A.; Cook, J.; Ward, R.S. 2015 Seasonal forecasting of groundwater levels in principal aquifers of the United Kingdom. Journal of Hydrology, 530. 815-828. 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.10.018
  • Davies, Richard J.; Almond, Sam; Ward, Robert S.; Jackson, Robert B.; Adams, Charlotte; Worrall, Fred; Harringshaw, Liam G.; Gluyas, Jon G.; Whitehead, Mark A. 2014 Oil and gas wells and their integrity: implications for shale and unconventional resource exploitation. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 56. 239-254.
  • Lapworth, D.J.; Baran, N.; Stuart, M.E.; Ward, R.S. 2012 Emerging organic contaminants in groundwater : a review of sources, fate and occurrence. Environmental Pollution, 163. 287-303.
  • MATHIAS, S A, BUTLER, A P, ATKINSON, T C, KACHI, S and WARD, R S. 2009. A parameter sensitivity analysis of two Chalk tracer tests. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology & Hydrogeology, v. 42 no. 2. p. 237-244.
  • GRATH, J, WARD, R S, SCHEIDLEDER, A and QUEVAUVILLER, P. 2007. Report on EU guidance on groundwater monitoring developed under the common implementation strategy of the water framework directiveJ. Environ. Monit., Vol 9, p. 1162-1175.
  • POSEN, P, LOVETT, A, HISCOCK, K, EVERS, S. WARD, R S and REID, B. 2006. Incorporating variations in pesticide catabolic activity into a GIS-based groundwater risk assessment. Science of The Total Environment. V 367, Issues 2-3, p. 641-652.
  • WARD, R S, STREETLEY, M J, SINGLETON, A J, SEARS, R. 2004. A framework for monitoring regional groundwater quality. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. Vol. 37 no. 4. p. 271-281.
  • EDMUNDS, W M, SHAND, P. HART, P and WARD, R S. 2003. The natural (baseline) quality of groundwater: a UK pilot study. The Science of The Total Environment. V 310 Issues 1-3. P. 25-35.


  • Data management and GIS Multi-disciplinarity
  • Fieldwork (design and implementation)
  • Freshwater Science
  • Translating science into policy

2014 – ongoing:Honorary Professor, Nottingham University

Professional associations

Boards and committees

  • 2016 – ongoing : Member of Defra Science Advisory Council Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)Working Group
  • 2015 – ongoing : Board Member of Local Nature Partnership (LNP) for Lowland Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and Chair of Natural Capital Working Group
  • 2014 –2016 : Advisor to the UK Shale Gas Task Force
  • 2013 – ongoing : Member of CIWEM Water Resources Expert Panel

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