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15th December 2016

Innovative solutions for sustainable drinking water treatment at small to medium scales

Image of rural landscape

Within the EU Horizon 20/20 program and The Hydro Nation Agenda water is seen as a significant enabling factor in the transition towards a resource efficiency and regenerative circular economy. While major urban managed water systems have seen
much improvement in performance, small to medium supplies still require optimisation. The research undertaken addressed the need to optimise the overall sustainability of small to medium sized water treatment processes.

This project surveys the drinking water treatment technology landscape (national and international) and develops a rational for assessing the technology across a range of operational scenarios.

1st December 2015

Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems: A practical design and build guide for Scotland's farmers and landowners

Rural cultivation; Cover photographs courtesy of: Alison Duffy, UWTC, Abertay University and Stewart Moir, Moir  Environmental Ltd.

Soil cultivation, manure / fertiliser applications and chemical spraying can all contribute to diffuse pollution from agricultural land.  Rainfall runoff from farm roads, tracks, yards and dusty roofs are also potential sources of diffuse pollution. Whilst many changes in farming practice have dealt with these sources of pollution there still remains instances where small amounts escape from a farmyard into a nearby ditch or where sediment laden overland field flows make their way into a ditch or burn, river or  natural wetland and finally the sea. This not only has cost implications for a farmer but these incidents across a catchment have a huge impact on our water environment. Rural Sustainable Drainage Systems (Rural SuDS) will reduce agricultural diffuse  pollution impacts as they are physical barriers that treat rainfall runoff. They are low cost, aboveground drainage structures that capture soil particles, organic matter, nutrients and pesticides before they enter our water environment. Rural SuDS for  steadings prevent blockages in drains and ditches. They contribute to good environmental practice and farm assurance schemes. In fields they can be used for returning fertile soil back to farmland and will help your business become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Trapping soils, organic matter and nutrients means that valuable assets can be reclaimed – recent studies indicate savings of £88 per hectare per year!   This Design and Build guide can be used by farmers and land managers  to reduce diffuse pollution.  


Governance and management of small rural water supplies: A comparative study

Small rural water supplies; Cover photograph courtesy of: María Gunnarsdóttir, University of Iceland and Colm Brady, National  Federation of Group Water Schemes

Small scale and rural water supplies present well-recognised problems to policymakers, regulators, service providers, communities and water users, all over the world. Small supplies across the European Union and internationally have been associated with inconsistent, or lower than required, frequency of monitoring and reporting of their status; non-compliances with microbiological and chemical quality standards; and unclear legal responsibilities for both operators and regulators in the case of a disease outbreak or non-compliances (Sinisi & Aertgeerts 2011; Rickert & Schmoll 2011; Eureau 2011; WHO 2012; European Commission 2014a; 2014b). This study was designed to make a wider comparative analysis of the governance, regulation and management of small rural water supplies across Member States of the European Union and other jurisdictions, and then make an in-depth analysis of selected case studies, supplemented by interviews and a stakeholder workshop.

This research clearly demonstrated that there are similar problems with small supplies all over the world; and that governance frameworks are relevant regardless of the form of ownership or type of management. It also showed that there are still many issues around definitions and terminology which can confuse the debate, as well as difficulties with consistency of data. Risk assessment, for example through Water Safety Plans, is a focus for service delivery at every scale, but for small and very small supplies, it is especially important to provide clear, userfriendly information and support, which is easily accessible to users. It is also important that obligations for suppliers and users are clear and understandable.


The effect of natural flood management in-stream wood placements on fish movement in Scotland

Wood placement flooded; Cover photograph courtesy of: The James Hutton Institute

This report provides a review and analysis of information on the passage by fish at wooden obstacles (woody placements), used for flood management, in Scotland. The report covers a series of placement types ranging from those permanently in the wetted stream channel, to those placed on side-bars which are wetted for a low proportion of the year.  With an absence of ground tested data, theoretical information from river-barrier assessment tools combined with the output from an expert panel, provide guidelines for good practice for the use of flood management woody placements in small streams, which minimise the impact on fish passage.

1st June 2014

Scotland Rural Development programme 2014-20 - recommendations for targeting support to deliver maximum benefit for the water environment

The Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) supports Scottish objectives that match the priorities of the European Union Rural Development Programme. A key requirement in the 2014 - 20 SRDP is to address the EU 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme priorities for (i) restoring and preserving biodiversity, (ii) improving water and soil management, and (iii) reducing green-house gas emissions, through agri-environment payments. In this context, CREW have been asked to develop recommendations for the spatial targeting of agri-environment options in the 2014-20 SRDP. The aim is to ensure cost-effective delivery of benefits for the water environment and to help Scotland meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive  and the Floods Directive.

1st March 2016

Developing a methodology for screening and identifying potential sources of bacteria to improve bathing, shellfish and drinking water quality

Although the quality of water in Scotland is generally very good, bacteria can pose a risk to human health via shellfish, bathing and drinking water quality issues. Faecal indicator organisms are of primary concern, since they are the key microbial water quality compliance parameters – specifically, Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci under the revised Bathing Waters Directive and Shellfish Waters Directive. These bacteria, which are generally non-pathogenic, are excreted by all warm-blooded animals and their presence indicates an environmental pathway contaminated with faecal waste which may be contributed to by a pathogen carrier(s).

The aim of this work is to design an effective faecal indicator organism screening methodology for Scotland that could be developed quickly and at a reasonable cost, that will enable, within acceptable limits:

  1. Prediction of current faecal indicator organism loadings (ideally concentration & flow) being delivered to specific receptor waters under different flow conditions and in different seasons  
  2. Source apportionment of overall FIO loadings to sources within catchments
  3. Estimation of ‘zone of influence’ of individual sources within catchments
  4. Estimation of impacts of interventions to reduce fluxes from sewerage- and/or agricultural-related sources.
14th October 2016

Pharmaceuticals in the Water Environment, 4-7th Sept. 2017

Prague, Czech Republic, 4-7 September 2017.

This conference focuses on the comprehensive issue of occurrence of pharmaceuticals in the water environment. This is done by considering the entire pathway of pharmaceuticals from their source (human use of medicins, etc.) as sewage water to waste water treatment plants releasing their effluent to surface waters and groundwater, this water being used as source for drinking water production, ending up with drinking water that may contain pharmaceutical residues. The effect of pharmaceuticals on ecosystems is also considered.

For more information see the conference website.

1st July 2016

A review of techniques for the monitoring of fine sediments: discussion document to inform workshop

iMAGE OF FRESHWATER MUSSEL; Cover photograph courtesy of: Susan Cooksley, James Hutton Institute

Fine sediments (particles <2mm) in rivers and streams generally result from land management activities such as forestry, agriculture or development. Their ecological effects can be highly damaging (Owenes et al., 2005). In suspension, fine particles interfere with biological processes (e.g. reduced sunlight penetration impairs plant growth) and behaviours (e.g. restricting the ability to find prey). When deposited, fine sediments can smother the riverbed and restrict the infiltration of oxygen-rich free-flowing water. They also introduce organic matter and nutrients, which can increase biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and promote eutrophication. Once present in a river system, fine sediments have the potential to cause a long-term cycle of environmental damage due to repeated mobilisation and resettlement.

Fine sediment is thought to be one of the principal pressures affecting the Freshwater pearl mussel (FPM) in Scotland - detrimental effects include prevention of feeding, damage to gills/feeding structures, and degradation of inter-gravel habitat (CEN, 2016). However, as there is no agreed method for monitoring and regulating fine sediment in UK rivers, it is difficult to assess the extent of problems that may be affecting FPM sites and to target remedial measures effectively. Therefore, there is a desire to establish a monitoring programme in Scotland.

26th September 2016

Alliance for Water Stewardship Global Water Stewardship Forum 1st-2nd November 2016

The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), with support from the Scottish Government and GIZ’s International Water Stewardship Program (IWaSP), will host the first Global Water Stewardship Forum at the ECCI in Edinburgh on 1st and 2nd November, 2016.  The Forum will provide insights from leading water stewardship practitioners, lessons from case studies in industry and agriculture and promote sharing knowledge to advance water stewardship.  To find out more, please visit the Forum webpage.

1st April 2016

River restoration and biodiversity

Cover image: The River Leith in Cumbria, England. Part of the River Leith near Penrith was restored in 2014  to its natural meandering course for the benefit of plants, animals and people (© Linda Pitkin/2020VISION).

The river environments of the UK and Ireland are special for their biodiversity and also the beneficial services they provide to humans.  However after centuries of damage inflicted on them, our rivers have changed greatly and continue to be threatened.  This means that effective river restoration alongside conservation is needed to bring back characteristic river habitat and wildlife.

This report describes the importance of rivers in the UK and Ireland for nature conservation, summarises the damage that river habitats have sustained over many decades, and discusses ways in which repairing damage and restoring river habitats can bring benefits both to wildlife and to human society.

The report was written by staff from the James Hutton Institute and represents a collaboration between a range of organisations in the UK and Ireland: Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Environment Agency (England), Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Rivers Agency (Northern Ireland), Natural England, Natural Resources Wales, Loughs Agency (NI), Office of Public Works (Republic of Ireland), Inland Fisheries Ireland, and the River Restoration Centre.


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