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WFD

Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Proposed Research

CP522  Understanding Wildfire Risk Drinking Water Quality

The occurrence of wildfires in the UK is increasing, with several high-profile episodes across the UK in recent years. Under UKCP09 climate change projections, within 30 years, the UK wildfire problem is set to be of a similar scale to that currently seen in Southern Europe.

In addition to the obvious health and safety and ecological impacts of wildfire, there are direct water company implications on catchment water quality, water resource resilience and water treatment needs. Whilst fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and used as a land management tool in moorland areas, the impact of burns include the release of particulate lead and hydrocarbons into water bodies. In response to increased wildfire occurrence, there is recent research activity from, amongst others, NERC Knowledge for Wildfire Group (KfWf) and the Chief Fire Officers Association but this includes little research on the direct impact of wildfires on water company activities.

The aim of this project is to work with other interest groups to develop a water company specific wildfire risk model to enable the development of catchment specific mitigation plans for wildfire risk.

BUSINESS BENEFITS TO CLIENTS

  • Ability to plan for and target investment to mitigate against the negative impacts of increasing occurrences of wildfire on water catchment, avoiding increased costs and resource shortages.
  • Improved engagement with stakeholders and improved drinking water safety plans.

WORK PROGRAMME

  1. Undertake comprehensive literature review on methodologies for modelling ignition probability and water company consequences; stakeholder workshop to explore current wildfire knowledge and review project scope.
  2. Develop regional ignition probability models and translate into regional GIS maps.
  3. Develop wildfire consequence framework and implementation plans.

PROJECT OUTPUT AND IMPLEMENTATION

  • Report on latest views of ignition probability and water company consequence, with gap analysis and recommendations for any immediate actions.
  • Regional ignition probability model as a GIS layer identifying high risk areas where mitigation strategies can be developed.
  • Wildfire consequence framework illustrated with examples. Combined with the GIS layer, application of the framework will quantify individual risks and provide financial justification for developing intervention strategies. The framework outputs will be designed to align with Drinking Water Safety Plans and used to update Operational and Emergency policies and practices.

RELATED WRc WORK

  • Catchment Management Benefits Framework.
  • Internal staff expertise on wildfire risk.
  • Formal expertise input from NERC KfWf and the University of Manchester.
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Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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