Natural flood management in the media

This week has seen the 12th anniversary of the 2007 floods which impacted across swathes of the UK and affected villages, towns and cities across Yorkshire. It is timely to look at some of the measures put in place since then to alleviate flooding in the future. Natural flood management (NFM) has had some coverage in the media recently with both the BBC and ITV reporting stories that cover activities iCASP projects are supporting.

Countryfile recently visited Hardcastle Crags near to Hebden Bridge to find out more about leaky dams and how they will help tackle flooding in the future. The NFM work in Hardcastle is as a direct result of the 2015 Boxing Day floods. iCASP has been working with the Environment Agency, JBA and the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, amongst others, on monitoring and measuring the range of benefits of NFM measures such as the leaky dams seen in the programme. The main focus of iCASP’s work has been developing approaches to measure whether or not the dams work to deliver flood alleviation. A future focus of the work will be to help quantify the additional benefits of these types of interventions – such as more varied habitat for wildlife, improved water quality and enhanced well-being for visitors to the area – which will be vital for making the business case for future natural flood management measures.  Find out more about the Hardcastle Crags leaky dams from Countryfile

Images of leaky dams and volunteers by Slow The Flow Calderdale

Natural flood management encompasses a range of different measures, not just leaky dams. An ITV news report on tree planting in Hebden Bridge mentioned how this work will draw upon the expertise of iCASP later in the year to understand the impact of trees already planted. iCASP will be working on the project to help identify how features, such as trees and hedges, can absorb heavy rainfall and contribute to alleviating flooding, as well as investigating how different soil types and land covers also contribute to flooding. Decisions on where trees and hedges should be planted in the future, for optimal benefit, will be informed by a rainfall-runoff model developed at the University of Leeds.  Read the ITV report

These NFM activities rely upon a range of different partners getting involved. A diagram showing the range of different partner organisations, drawing from the voluntary, charitable, private, public and regulatory sectors, has been developed to give a flavour of the interactions in these activities in the Calderdale area.  View the interactive diagram

Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee

This week, Alison Dunn who leads the Invasive Non Native Species project gave evidence at the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into Invasive Species. iCASP had previously submitted written evidence to the inquiry and Alison was invited to attend the first evidence session where the Committee began to get an understanding of the issues that will shape the inquiry.

L-R: Mary Creagh MP (Chair of the EAC) with some of the witnesses from the enquiry, Professor Helen Roy (NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology), Dr Alison Dunn (iCASP, University of Leeds) and Professor Elizabeth Cottier-Cook (University of the Highlands and Islands and Scottish Association for Marine Science)

Some points that Alison made during her session include:

  • economically important impacts of invasive species on, for example, on the building trade and water companies
  • the importance of biosecurity to stop initial invasions, spread, or re-infestation
  • the unprecedented rate at which new species are being introduced
  • the reliance, in some cases, of biosecurity on voluntary agreements rather than legislation
  • the shift in climate that may affect whether an invasive species becomes problematic or not

Alison’s session can be seen on Parliament TV (begins at 11:36:00)

There is also a transcript of the session available

 

iCASP hosting Exercise Augustus – surface water flood forecasting and response workshop

Introducing participants to the day’s activities and where the forecasts and data they will be seeing comes from

This week iCASP hosted a workshop for a range of organisations across Yorkshire involved with flood preparedness and response, and national organisations responsible for producing flood forecasts and alerts. The workshop was run to test out how useful it could be to combine probabilistic rainfall forecasts (Met Office Global and Regional Ensemble Prediction System, MOGREPS) with high-resolution hydrodynamic modelling (JBA’s JFlow®) to provide localised surface water flood forecasts.

A mock incident response situation – Exercise Augustus – was run using JBA’s Exercise Management System (JEMS), which presented representatives from Yorkshire’s Local Authorities, flood action group leaders, Environment Agency, emergency services and Yorkshire Water with the ‘new’ forecasts based on a real flooding incident in Leeds to see how they responded to the information they were given, and what decisions and actions they would take as a result.

Screen grabs of some of the information participants were shown during Exercise Augustus

This kind of incident response scenario planning gives us an understanding of the kinds of information that incident responders find most useful in helping them make their decisions – both in advance of an incident and also as the incident is unfolding.

Participants discussing the data and information and what it means ‘on the ground’, and what decisions and actions to take as a consequence

The participants worked in four groups so that their thoughts on the information they were presented with, and the rationale for their decision-making, could be understood and captured. A report will be produced summarising the different responses of the groups that will allow iCASP partners to better understand the ways to present information to flood responders, and which kinds of information elicit the most appropriate responses to the situation.

 

 

 

 

The flood that Exercise Augustus was modelled on took place in Garforth, Leeds on August 22 2015.

Leeds City Council Flood Risk Management Workshop

iCASP convened a workshop with Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency on 17th April to bring together a range of stakeholders to look at flood risk management in Leeds, for the next spending period, 2021 to 27.

The stakeholders, including infrastructure providers, representatives of local authorities and councils, water companies, academics and others working in catchment management, were not just focused on future flood risk management schemes but other infrastructure or growth ambitions for Leeds City Region.

Photo credit: Jennifer Armstrong

This meant an exciting outcome of the workshop was identifying future activity and investments where multiple benefits might be delivered, not just the reduction of flood risk. All stakeholders at the workshop highlighted the importance of early integration across organisations to achieve these common aspirations.

The next step in this process is for ideas for flood risk management schemes to be submitted for funding support from central government – hopefully with a clear outline of the multiple benefits that they can help achieve.

Making the case for peatland restoration

A new digital publication to help peatland restoration projects make a strong case for investment has been produced by the Yorkshire Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP).

A ‘User Guide for Valuing the Benefits of Peatland Restoration’ explains very simply how different methods can be used to evaluate benefits such as flood risk reduction, carbon storage, water quality improvements and recreational amenity.

Read moreMaking the case for peatland restoration

Let’s talk nitrogen pollution

Photo credit: Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water

An iCASP workshop aims to kick start an integrated catchment approach to reducing nitrogen pollution from farming. But as most excess nitrogen comes from agricultural activities, improvements will only happen if enough farmers get on board, so a quick  Have Your say questionnaire is available for farmers to influence the workshop even if they can’t come along. (Please feel free to forward this item if you know a farmer willing to share their experience)

High volumes of nitrogen in the water or in the air are harmful to human health, but most efforts to reduce them focus on a single impact or activity such as slurry spreading. An iCASP project, if designed well with input from farmers, researchers, Defra teams and regulators, could bring about a new approach with benefits for farm businesses and the environment.

An agenda and directions to the venue can be downloaded from the links below.

Nitrogen Workshop Final Agenda

Kings Manor Info

 

Read moreLet’s talk nitrogen pollution

Dealing with freshwater invaders

Workshop to design invasive species project

Hard pressed local authorities in Yorkshire are to get some support from iCASP  in dealing with the spread of watery invaders such as Giant Hogweed, a plant that causes long-term skin burning.

Last year’s costs for removing Giant Hogweed and Japanese Knotweed from the Rivers Aire and Don was over a hundred thousand pounds. Although Yorkshire is currently largely free of Floating Pennywort, which clogs up waterways, costs of large infestations are huge. Once widespread it becomes almost impossible to eradicate this invasive species, resulting in spiralling annual costs of treatment. A new iCASP project will therefore help authorities to act now to prevent any spread.

Read moreDealing with freshwater invaders

Paying farmers for natural flood management

Photocredit: Andrew Walker, Yorkshire Water

A group of farmers are at the heart of an iCASP project which will be supporting the trial of a new national scheme for paying land managers to deliver benefits such as healthy soil or an increase in bees and other pollinators. The National Trust and Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are running a ‘Payment for Outcomes’ trial with a group of  tenant farmers in the Yorkshire Dales which will help to test the feasibility of Defra’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

Read morePaying farmers for natural flood management

Enhancing water efficiency in Leeds

Tap with water-saving sensor.Photocredit:SuSanA Secretariat

A group of  iCASP researchers is helping to make developments in Leeds more sustainable. They’ve been using their expertise to pull together the evidence for a water saving policy.

Planners at Leeds City Council are looking to adopt an enhanced 110 litres a day water efficiency standard for new homes, and need reliable and robust evidence to support the decision and make the case more widely.

Although 110 litres a day is recognised as a sound benchmark, the brief suggests that an even more ambitious target could be achievable.

The advice to Leeds City Council Planners is presented as a Policy Brief  which has been well received.

As the brief might be helpful to other councils, it is available to download from the Resources section of the iCASP website.

RT @CIWEM: We are pleased to announce the Journal of Flood Risk Management will be an #open access journal from January 2020… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

RT @YorkDalesRT: Do you spend a lot of time around rivers or out & about in the countryside? Come see us at Scarcroft Village Hall n… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

@ilkleyIain This was Nethergill Farm in Oughtershaw I believe