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14th September 2017

Assessing the effectiveness of Scotland’s public flood warning service

Flood warning service

Flood Warnings and Flood Alerts have been offered in Scotland since the 1980s and have become a key element of delivering flood resilience as a response to the threats presented by climate change.  High levels of demand have been translated into high levels of customer satisfaction as the delivery of services has spread and have embraced new technologies to better meet the needs of users.  The direct messaging service of Floodline was initiated in 2011 and currently has around 25,000 registered
customers.  This study was commissioned by SEPA to take stock of the progress which has been achieved.

This research explores the effectiveness of the Floodline service in Scotland by examining the experiences and opinions of users in their own individual contexts – social, flooding history, and geographical.

30th May 2017

Evaluating the impact of the Scottish Government funded Community Resilience Development Officer Post

The aim of this study was to evaluate the Scottish Government funded Community Resilience Development Officer post at Education Scotland. The evaluation took place to inform the Scottish Government in terms of planning, and funding for, future posts of this kind. The purpose of the post is to help embed resilience thinking and online resources within the Curriculum for Excellence, ensure resilience thinking reaches schools and children. This includes teaching on: the causes of extreme weather; its impact on communities (specifically flooding); and the ways in which individuals and communities can adapt to and mitigate the impact of related emergencies.

The study used qualitative and quantitative empirical data to evaluate both process and impact on adult stakeholders including local authority staff in resilience and education roles. This included interviews in four case study local authorities. The areas were selected to represent variety across Scotland with potentially different resilient issues e.g. urban, rural, coastal, island; but also to examine local authorities which were judged to have different degrees of engagement with the post.

10th August 2017

Scotland's Coastal Change Assessment

Scotland's Coastal Change

The Coastal Change Assessment creates a shared evidence base to support more sustainable coastal and terrestrial planning decisions in the light of a changing climate. For the first time, all 21000 km of the Scottish shoreline have been analysed to a level of detail never achieved before.

The assessment has established historic coastal change by extracting the georectified coastline position from OS 2nd Edition Country Series maps (1892-1905) and compared it to both the 1970’s and current coastal position (updated by LiDAR datasets where available) to estimate past erosion/accretion rates. Using the historic coastal change rates the coastline position is projected into the future. Using the erosion rates combined with a number of socioeconomic datasets, key assets at risk from future coastal erosion have been identified.

10th August 2017

Policy update: Drinking Water Quality Regulator

DWQR regulates Scottish Water and supervises the regulation of private water supplies (PWS) by local authorities. It is the latter supplies which create many of the policy challenges we currently face. Questions such as “How can we persuade people of the health risk their private supply presents?” and “How can we provide individuals and communities with the tools they need to effectively manage their private supply in a way that is both sustainable and resilient?” are just two examples and ones where CREW projects have been instrumental in furthering our understanding.

Some issues, such as the problem of lead plumbing in buildings and the effect of climate change on  water catchments and source water quality are common to both public and PWS, and have been the subject of CREW work. Areas such as improving the PWS risk assessment process and supporting both local authorities and individual supply owners and users with authoritative advice are currently keeping us busy.

New regulations governing public and private water supplies are to come into force in October this year, in response to amendments to the EU Drinking Water Directive. Main changes on the private water supply side, affecting larger and commercial (formerly  Type A) PWS,  include the enhancement of enforcement powers for both local authorities and DWQR and the introduction of a standardised approved risk assessment process that must be completed before a new supply can be used.  Changes in the Directive to the way in which parameters may be excluded from sampling by risk assessment potentially meant a significant increase in the amount of PWS sampling that would have been required. To avoid placing a significant burden on owners of PWS, the concept of rationalising sampling by grouping supplies into “water supply zones” has been introduced.

4th June 2015

Practical measures for reducing phosphorus and faecal microbial loads from onsite wastewater treatment system discharges to the environment A review

Onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS), the majority of which are septic tanks, are a contributing factor to phosphorus and faecal microbial loads. OWTS contribute to waterbodies failing to meet Water Framework Directive (WFD) objectives and as such, measures to improve the quality of OWTS discharges are required. Literature has been reviewed for a range of measures designed to reduce phosphorus and pathogen concentrations in effluent from OWTS. A feasibility assessment focussed on their application, effectiveness, efficiency, cost and ease of adaptation. A wide range of measures have been identified that could potentially improve water quality.

13th July 2017

Hydro Nation Scholarship Programme 2018

Applications are now welcome for project proposals based on our topic themes for 2018. Full details of the programme can be found on the Hydro Nation Scholars website.

The Hydro Nation Scholarship Programme is an open competition for PhD scholars to undertake approved projects hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutions.

5th July 2017

Valuing Your Soils workshop Girvan 17th July

The fifth ‘Valuing Your Soils’ awareness raising workshop for farmers is taking place at Girvan Mains farm (KA26 9JD) on 17th July. There will be machinery demos, a tour of an anaerobic digestion plant and open soil pits. Further information will be available shortly.

8th September 2015

Developing simple indicators to assess the role of soils in determining risks to water quality

This project set out to explore the possibility of producing a set of four risk maps that could be used to determine the risk of diffuse pollution occurring within Scottish agricultural catchments. The key soil-based factors likely to affect water quality were deemed to be:
• Sediment and pollutants being transported to water bodies by erosion events
• Compaction, which reduces infiltration and may exacerbate run-off
• Surface run-off
• Leaching of potential    pollutants

Two test catchments were chosen (the Coyle and the East Pow, both sub-catchments of SEPA’s designated priority catchments) as a related project on soil nutrient management was already using these catchments as trial areas.

7th June 2017

Demonstration Test Catchment national consortium

The Demonstration Test Catchment (DTC) national consortium invites you to attend a two-day conference hosted at the University of Exeter, UK, on 4th and 5th September 2017.

The conference programme has been finalised.  Bookings are now being taken for this event.

Please note that the deadline for new bookings is 30th June 2017.

Since being commissioned in December 2009, the DTC research programme has developed, tested and promoted cost-effective management options to reduce water pollution from agriculture at the farm to catchment to national scales. The two days will focus on DTC findings and recommendations, and the experience of other observatories and platforms working on water quality and its management.

This event is open to all, from farmers to environment and water professionals, scientists, regulators and policy makers. Discussions will include:

- How do we best characterise the rural water quality problem?

- Which interventions are most attractive to farmers and what can they achieve?

- What knowledge gaps remain?


The conference has been part-funded by Defra from the DTC programme and will have a limited number of keynote talks with emphasis on themed sessions designed to showcase scientific results.


22nd May 2017

Engaging communities around private water supplies

Private water supplies

This project aimed to work with four rural communities to explore engagement around private water supplies (PWS). Approximately 3.4% of the Scottish population uses around 20,000 PWS, predominantly in rural areas (DWQR, 2016).  These drinking
water sources may not provide resilience in dry periods.  In addition, the quality of PWS is highly variable (DWQR, 2016), posing associated health risks. Failures are often due to poor or unmaintained treatment systems and sources with variable quality
(especially during wet weather events).

To be able to improve PWS, it is necessary to understand how to engage with rural communities around the issue, and this project sought to consider this. The Scottish Government is working towards improving the quality of these supplies and this project is an integral part of that work.


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