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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Proposed Research

CP416  Quantifying benefits of catchment management activities Environmental Management
Project Appreciation and Objectives

Diffuse water pollution from agriculture and insensitive land management can contaminate surface and ground water supplies of drinking water. Treatment of this water to comply with drinking water standards imposes considerable capital and operating costs on water companies and contributes significantly to the industry's carbon footprint.

Catchment management initiatives being implemented by water companies represent an alternative to traditional, capital intensive treatment solutions by focusing on working with farmers and other land managers to tackle water quality problems at source. OFWAT have pledged to work with water companies to put in place reporting and monitoring mechanisms to identify and assess value added and to promote good practice.

This strategic project will develop a generic conceptual and practical framework to evaluate the effectiveness of individual catchment management schemes and to quantify the resulting benefits. It will also provide a forum for water companies and regulators to agree best practice approaches for the collection and analysis of environmental monitoring data.

Benefits to Clients

  • Companies will be able to test and measure the effectiveness of their catchment management initiatives, identify opportunities for improvement and use a robust framework for reporting progress to the regulators.
  • A stronger evidence base will be available to justify AMP5 spend, support future investment decisions and inform the design of more cost-effective catchment management schemes.
  • Companies will be able to increase stakeholder engagement by providing transparent evidence of progress.

Work Programme

  1. Understand water company and regulator views on catchment management initiatives.
  2. Develop a conceptual approach for evaluating the effectiveness of catchment interventions.
  3. Review catchment management initiatives to date, identifying successful approaches and barriers to achievement of objectives.
  4. Hold workshop to learn lessons from previous initiatives and scope the guidance document.
  5. Produce a practical guidance document for setting up and running monitoring programmes and analysing the resulting data.
  6. Document examples of best practice.

Project Output

  • Comprehensive report including:

    • Guidance document containing a conceptual framework and practical advice for setting up and running monitoring programmes and analysing the resulting data.
    • Analysis of the views of the financial, environmental and public health regulators and a review of benefits achieved to date by catchment management initiatives.

Related WRc Work

  • Support to England Catchment Sensitive Farming Delivery Initiative (ECSFDI) monitoring and evaluation programme, Environment Agency, 2006-ongoing.
  • Statistical analysis of pesticide monitoring data to understand and quantify the links between land use, agricultural pressures catchment characteristics and water quality, Environment Agency, 2009-10.
  • Development of monitoring programme and sampling strategy for the Demonstration Test Catchments project, Defra, 2009-10.
  • Management of contamination risks in water supply, UKWIR, 2007-2009.

WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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