A new iCASP partnership is forming to dissolve the barriers which prevent investment in natural landscaping in urban areas. Natural landscape features such as ponds, rows of trees, roofs or walls planted with greenery are just a few common examples of what is described as Green Blue Infrastructure (GBI).
In spite of its benefits, which include natural cooling, improving air quality, providing wildlife habitats and making urban areas more attractive, planners struggle to make a persuasive business case for GBI investment.
Now a strong multi-disciplinary team in partnership with stakeholders in Leeds City region and West Yorkshire are determined to lead the way in improving cost-benefit analysis and valuation of Green Blue Infrastructure. They want to bring HM Treasury on board too!
A rainfall-runoff model developed at the University of Leeds is the latest weapon in Calderdale’s efforts to prevent future flooding in the valley. SD-TOPMODEL is currently the only tool able to model the flow of water from hillslopes to the river at a sufficient spatial scale to allow Natural Flood Management (NFM) interventions and land management to be represented accurately for the characteristics of the Calderdale catchment.
An iCASP project using SD-TOPMODEL and starting in November 2018 will contribute to the Calderdale Flood Action Plan by helping to prioritise the siting of future NFM schemes.
The UKCP18 Regional User Forum will use the release of the updated UK Climate Projections 18 as an opportunity to bring together different sectors of the regional economy to ensure that the latest knowledge is embedded in catchment management decisions. The afternoon event in Leeds on March 8th 2019 will be designed for organisations who need to use UK climate projections for resilience planning and long-term business strategies.
The latest iCASP Project will help advise the Don Catchment Rivers Trust on their Hidden Heritage Secret Streams project. This is based on the Upper Rother Catchment, a tributary of the River Don. One of the aims of the project is to improve the way land is managed so that it provides both social and heritage benefits.
Volunteers will be recruited to put in place small and simple changes to reduce river pollution from different sources, slow the rate at which water flows down the river, and make it easier for different species to flourish by ensuring suitable habitats are connected up in the landscape.
At the moment, it’s difficult to prioritise what should be done because there isn’t enough available information on the different options and whether they can be carried out by volunteers. This is where iCASP can add most value.
It sets out an action plan for better management of water to deliver water-efficient homes at volume, that are resilient to flooding and calls for a ‘Bricks and Water’ sustainability code with a change in building regulations to provide a stable long-term planning framework.
The latest iCASP Project, The Derwent Data Finder, will explore whether a collaborative monitoring system could help the Environment Agency to reduce costs and to gather more information. The Environment Agency currently spends 60 million pounds a year gathering information on the state of the water environment to meet regulatory requirements.
However, many other organisations, including iCASP partners and universities, also collect relevant data which if shared might fill existing knowledge gaps and prevent duplication.
Leaving the EU gives the UK an opportunity to rethink farm subsidies. The government is currently exploring how to incentivise farmers and land owners to improve water quality, soil health and flood protection. This is where iCASP can help. The Agri-Land Management for Public Goods Delivery Project is going to review and consolidate the evidence on land management interventions which generate a wide range of public goods.
The Review will focus on a selection of land management activities currently undertaken in the River Ouse drainage basin area of Yorkshire, including those supported through Countryside Stewardship.
Water companies spend millions of pounds a year removing harmful nitrates from drinking water and the problem seems to be getting worse. Most of this pollution relates to agriculture, so various incentive schemes to stop nitrates getting in to water have been trialled with farmers. However, the effectiveness of such schemes and the resultant reduction in nitrate pollution needs to be better understood at catchment scale.
This Summer, iCASP will be publishing a review of what we know about how agricultural land can be managed to deliver a range of public goods including a reduction in nitrate pollution as phase one of a new iCASP project. The review will be a useful source of information to inform the government’s approach to nitrate regulation and management.
Research co-authored by iCASP Director, Professor Joe Holden shows how dependent the UK is on peatlands to supply drinking water.
The study published in Nature Sustainability this week is based on a new global index developed by a group of scientists from water@leeds which estimates that 72.5% of the storage capacity of UK water supply reservoirs is peat-fed water.
“The UK consumes approximately 1.56 cubic kilometres of drinking water per year that has come from peatlands; that is roughly the volume of 630,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This resource supports the equivalent of 28.3 million people or more than 43% of UK population.”
Any threat to peatlands from rising temperatures, draining or burning is a significant threat to the UK’s water security. It is therefore timely that Defra has announced funding this week for the Yorkshire Peat Partnership and Moors for the Future, both partners in iCASP’s Optimal Peatland Restoration Project.
The iCASP partnership is committed to supporting the restoration work going forward in Yorkshire not least because the largest costs in raw water treatment for water companies comes from removing peat sediment and dissolved organic carbon in water draining from degraded peatlands. Over the past few decades concentrations of dissolved organic carbon in water from UK upland peatlands have increased rapidly due to changes in atmospheric chemistry and peat degradation.
Professor Holden concludes that,
“It’s imperative that we support the great work of peatland restoration agencies and partnerships which are working with water companies to enhance the condition of our degraded peatlands.”