Project Appreciation and Objectives
River catchments provide a wide range of goods and services to water companies, their customers and other stakeholder groups. These ecosystem services include water supplies, food, flood protection, climate change mitigation, effluent dilution, recreation and biodiversity. The Water White Paper and recent EA and Ofwat regulatory guidance encourage water companies to consider the wider economic, social and environmental costs and benefits when planning investment strategies. Finding sustainable and integrated ways of managing surface and groundwater resources and meeting drinking water and wastewater effluent quality standards, therefore, requires an understanding of how management activities will affect the provision of ecosystem services and how different stakeholders will be affected.
The objective of this study is to give companies a clear vision of the opportunities, threats and conflicts of interest in river catchments by mapping the provision of ecosystem services. This will provide a powerful means of communicating difficult management decisions to other stakeholders, identify win-win opportunities, and target management interventions where they will deliver multiple benefits.
Business Benefits to Clients
- More effective catchment planning through early identification of the likely impacts and benefits of company activities.
- Appreciation of the value of ecosystem services provided by company-owned land, allowing the identification of more sustainable management options.
- Identification of critical areas within catchments that pose greatest risk so that management activities to be focused in key areas to deliver multiple benefits.
- Improved stakeholder engagement through visual representation of catchment uses by different stakeholder groups.
- Stronger business case for future investment that will gain the approval of Ofwat.
- Select and prioritise key ecosystem services; develop conceptual model of service provision; define spatial data needs and sources.
- Develop methodology to process data, describe and quantify component variables and visualise the provision of services.
- Illustrate approach in focal catchments using available datasets; map results using GIS interface.
Project Output and Implementation
Catchment managers will have a documented and tested methodology for mapping ecosystem services in their company's catchments, which will support strategic planning of future monitoring activities and data acquisition. GIS layers of key ecosystem services may be incorporated into business spatial data systems to inform operational management decisions and support stakeholder engagement.
Related WRc Work
- Quantifying the benefits of water quality catchment management initiatives (UKWIR 2012)
- Integrating an Ecosystem Services Approach into Cost-Benefit Analysis (Portfolio 2012)