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5th June 2020

Investment decisions at small drinking water supply systems

Investment decisions report

This project sought to review the challenges in delivering drinking water compliance, with a focus on the quality and quantity of investment drivers, and to assess the proposed or deployed solutions against these criteria. These outputs will assist in identifying value for money criteria for investment; identify how the policy and regulatory framework includes water treatment choices, risk appetite and costs; identify how changes to the policy framework could improve value for money and sustainability and inform policy on drinking water treatment based on economics and quality enhancement. The reviewed investment processes related to existing water supply schemes that are in the process of undergoing improvement or have already undergone improvements to meet appropriate qualitative and quantitative standards.

The review found that the decision-making processes employed by Scottish Water to address declining water quality issues in small supplies are underpinned by the need to ensure overall cost effectiveness, sustainability and provision of a reliable and wholesome water supply. It has been found that Scottish Water procedures are generally effective and informed by stringent application of internal procedures underpinned by the relevant regulatory and policy framework. The current intervention definition process (IDP) appeared to be robust, seeking to improve cost benefit analysis and value management while involving a wide range of stakeholders. The process is well aligned with drinking water safety plans and seeks a high level of protection for water consumers, regardless of the size of the supply.

The study has also identified several challenges in capital investment process for small systems and suggests that the current robust nature of the Intervention Definition Process (IDP) process makes it lengthy, and potentially complex. The study suggests that an opportunity exists for further enhancing the IDP process for small systems through improved engagement with academic and professional specialist support and harnessing the technical capacity and innovation where available within Scottish Water operations across all regions, whilst still balancing risk and the need for a secure provision of service.

27th May 2020

Impacts of Flooding in North-East Scotland: Comprehensive Report

Many areas of Great Britain were badly affected by flooding over a fourteen-week period in the winter of 2015/2016. The flooding had considerable impacts on numerous communities, including private homes, business premises, transport infrastructure and agricultural land. In Scotland, in early December 2015, severe flooding affected the south of the country with Hawick and Dumfries both badly affected. Late December saw further periods of heavy rainfall that brought more flooding to the South of Scotland, badly affecting Peebles and Newton Stewart. Severe flooding also affected the North-East of Scotland in late December 2015 and early January 2016. Some flooding was experienced in Aberdeen city, but most flooding and associated disruption was experienced around Aberdeenshire, in small towns, villages and the open countryside.

In response to the severe flooding experienced in North-east Scotland during the winter of 2015/16, the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) commissioned a project to;

  1. develop a better understanding of the long-term impacts of flooding upon people and communities; and
  2. identify and understand what types of support and advice are needed at different stages of the recovery process.

The research was conducted over a three-year period in Ballater and Garioch, gaining new insights about the long-term impacts of flooding on people and communities. These insights informed several considerations for enhancing flood-risk management (before, during, and after a flood), and highlighted how personal and community resilience may be supported.

18th May 2020

Identifying FIO sources: monitoring techniques and sampling strategies

Report cover FIO monitoring and sampling

Review of monitoring techniques and sampling strategies to identify the most significant sources of Faecal Indicator Organisms (FIO) within a catchment 

SEPA plan to use “blitz” monitoring to get a picture of water quality across catchments where there are multiple sources of faecal pollution to Bathing Water Protected Areas (BWPA) and Shellfish Water Protected Areas (SWPA). This is envisaged to involve FIO sampling across the river network to identify the area of influence, and trace FIO hotspots and types of sources within the area of influence. However, blitz monitoring is faced with a wide range of challenges, such as monitoring resource limitations, regulatory requirements for storage time and analytical procedures, and limited understanding where the area of influence (i.e. the part of the river catchment in which diffuse and point FIO pollution sources can influence water quality in BWPA and SWPA) and FIO hotspots are located. Addressing these challenges is essential for addressing the impacts of catchment-based faecal pollution to BWPA and SWPA.

This report provides a literature review summarising best available evidence on the timing of FIO discharges, in-stream FIO variability, FIO pollution risk, FIO monitoring and detection technologies. Further, the report details the desktop approach developed by the research team to identify potential FIO hotspots and provides recommendations for a practical monitoring strategy to identify the area of influence to BWPA and SWPA, and to track FIO from different FIO hotspots and types of sources within it.

A three-phased approach was recommended based on the requirements of SEPA:

Phase 1: Identify area of influence and FIO hotspots therein: Apply a toolkit approach integrating desktop studies, field monitoring and modelling.

Phase 2: Assess in-stream FIO spatial and temporal variability: Apply membrane filtration techniques and flow cytometry in the lab or use of mobile labs (e.g. Colitag) or continuous monitoring devices (e.g. ALERT – E.coli Analyser) concurrently with measurement of turbidity, temperature and flow.

Phase 3: Elucidate/ confirm predominant types of sources (i.e. human vs animal): Apply microarray, qPCR of genetic markers or flow cytometry for MST to track predominant FIO sources at sites influenced by diffuse FIO sources or mixed land use.

15th May 2020

World Water Day 2019

Exploring Scotland’s Resilience to Drought and Low Flow Conditions - World Water Day 2019

On World Water Day 2019 the Hydro Nation International Centre and Centre of Expertise for Water (CREW) hosted a conference on "Resilience to Drought and Low Flow Conditions in Scotland", an event supported by the Scottish Government.

Scientists, engineers, planners and managers shared their observations, experiences, research outcomes, and innovative ideas on building resilience and adapting to low flows and drought conditions from a Scottish perspective. The Short and Full reports from this event can be found here.

28th April 2020

Managing flood risk in the context of the climate emergency (SNIFFER FRM 2020)

This year the SNIFFER conference explored what the climate emergency means for Flood Risk Management with contributions from youth climate strikers as well as policy and planning experts from the public sector. Click here for the conference report. As part of the event, CREW coordinated a thought-provoking and action-orientated ‘Spark’ talk session that highlighted research innovation in Flood Risk Management. This blog captured the key points.

Managing flood risk in the context of the climate emergency (30-31st January 2020)

This year the SNIFFER conference explored what the climate emergency means for Flood Risk Management with contributions from youth climate strikers as well as policy and planning experts from the public sector. Click here for the conference report. As part of the event, CREW coordinated a thought-provoking and action-orientated ‘Spark’ talk session that highlighted research innovation in Flood Risk Management. This blog captured the key points.

11th February 2020

Impacts of Flooding in North-east Scotland

Impacts of Flooding in North East Scotland

Many areas of Great Britain were badly affected by flooding over a fourteen-week period in the winter of 2015/2016. The flooding had considerable impacts on numerous communities, including private homes, business premises, transport infrastructure and agricultural land.

In Scotland, in early December 2015, severe flooding affected the south of the country with Hawick and Dumfries both badly affected. Late December saw further periods of heavy rainfall that brought more flooding to the South of Scotland, badly affecting Peebles and Newton Stewart. Severe flooding also affected the North-East of Scotland in late December 2015 and early January 2016. Some flooding was experienced in Aberdeen city, but most flooding and associated disruption was experienced around Aberdeenshire, in small towns, villages and the open countryside.

In response to the severe flooding experienced in North-east Scotland during the winter of 2015/16, the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) commissioned project to;

  1. develop a better understanding of the long-term impacts of flooding upon people and communities; and
  2. identify and understand what types of support and advice are needed at different stages of the recovery process.

The research was conducted over a three-year period in Ballater and Garioch, gaining new insights about the long-term impacts of flooding on people and communities. These insights informed several considerations for enhancing flood-risk management (before, during, and after a flood), and highlighted how personal and community resilience may be supported.

Slender Naiad (Najas flexilis) Habitat Quality Assessment

Slender Naiad (Najas flexilis) is a submerged aquatic plant that occurs in clear lowland water bodies often with base rich substrates. It is seldom found in water less than 1m dep. In the UK this species, although previously found in Esthwaite Water, is now only found exclusively in Scotland. Therefore, actions to improve the species’ conservation in Scotland have a particular importance. It is listed under Annexes II and IV of the EC habitats Directive and Appendix I of the Bern Convention. It is protected under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is on the Scottish Biodiversity List.

The Slender Naiad is believed to be under increasing threat in Scotland. Although the overall number of sites is currently relatively stable, it has not been found for some time in a number of previously occupied, notably mainland, lochs including sites surveyed recently. It is not fully understood what affects the health of Slender Naiad. The reasons why it disappears, and where and why it fares well need to be better understood. More need to be known about actions that can be taken in order to ensure that the habitat quality for Slender Naiad is maintained or restored. A literature review of existing studies on habitat requirements, disappearance, health, and reintroduction from Scotland and other countries where Slender Naiad is native (Ireland, Canada, USA, etc.). Further, it needs to be identified what type of data should be reviewed and/or collected in order to assess (in a future project) the suitability of Scottish lochs as habitat for Slender Naiad. Further, it needs to be identified what data is already available, where, and how to access it.

Project Objectives

Research question(s) to be answered through this project

 

1.       What are the habitat requirements necessary for the health of Slender Naiad populations in Scottish lochs? Can further information be drawn from studies in other countries (Ireland, Canada, etc.)? What data is currently available to identify a) the existence of Slender Naiad in Scottish Lochs b) the water, soil, and other habitat conditions that may affect the health or decline of Slender Naiad?   

2.       What additional data would need to be collected or modelled in order to assess the suitability of different Scottish Lochs for Slender Naiad?

26th November 2019

Assessing the effectiveness of environmental improvement measures

Report front cover

This output is part of a project titled 'Assessing the effectiveness of environmental improvement measures - developing a toolkit to rank success and inform policy.'

The report provides a recommendation to SEWeb for a decision aiding approach to assess the effectiveness of existing and future measures, as required by the SEWeb EU LIFE project.  A shortlist of decision aiding approaches were examined including: Decision Conferencing; Structured Decision Making; Strategic Choice Approach; and Multicriteria Mapping. Based on a set of criteria and the decision aiding approaches reviewed, Multicriteria Mapping was selected and a phased series of trials of Multicriteria Mapping was carried out, including familiarisation, testing and end user interviews. Multicriteria Mapping was deemed as being very useful for  assessing the effectiveness of existing and future measures.

The report contains a summary of the approaches reviewed and why Multicriteria Mapping was chosen for further trials. A longer 'tool kit' overview of Multicriteria Mapping and a Multicriteria Mapping Manual are provided in the report appendices.

12th November 2019

Communities at Risk of Flooding and their Attitudes towards Natural Flood Management (NFM)

This study looks at what communities at risk of flooding know and feel about Natural Flood Management (NFM). NFM can involve a variety of tools to slow down or store floodwater such as restoring natural river channels, removing flood embankments, planting trees along riverbanks, and blocking upland drains. NFM is a key part of sustainable flood risk management, so understanding attitudes to NFM can help develop approaches for engaging communities in flood risk management. Following background research, the project team contacted four communities around Scotland to arrange discussion groups and visited each of them in early 2019.  The project explored their views on NFM, as well as their experience of flooding, and their communications with flood risk authorities.

The study found that there was general interest in NFM. Therefore, community attitudes to NFM are not necessarily a barrier to developing new NFM schemes. Indeed, the discussion groups were generally keen for all aspects of sustainable flood risk management, including NFM, to be considered during planning so that their risk of flooding might be reduced. People were familiar with specific examples of NFM (e.g. woody dams, restoring floodplains, slowing the flow) and identified how NFM schemes may deliver other benefits, such as increased biodiversity or amenity value. However, community members often lack awareness of what a full NFM scheme might involve, including the complexity and uncertainties associated with planning and implementing NFM at a catchment scale. Consequently, people would welcome more information, which could include visits to an existing NFM site or developing a local pilot study, and constructive involvement in flood management planning and implementation.

Scepticism about NFM tended to derive from lack of trust in the processes for planning and delivery of flood risk management schemes in general, rather than reservations specific to NFM. There was a common perception that responsible agencies could work together to more effectively communicate with communities around flood risk management planning. Strengthening community engagement could help in developing and sustaining working relationships with communities at risk of flooding, and so in implementing all aspects of sustainable flood risk management.

                                                                                                                                      

31st October 2019

Towards an economic value of native oyster restoration in Scotland

Front cover Oyster report

Native oyster beds (Ostrea edulis) are one of the most endangered marine habitats in Europe, with associated population losses of over 95%, mainly due to overfishing in the 19th and early 20th century. The loss of this keystone species has also meant a loss of oyster reef habitat for other shell and fin fish, and a loss of key ecosystem services for filtration and sequestration of pollutants.

The Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) project is restoring 40 hectares of native oyster reef off the shore at Dornoch, to provide a bioengineering solution to treatment at the Glenmorangie Distillery at Tian.  As part of the overall project, DEEP is sourcing native oysters and this has already helped to overcome both known challenges to aquaculture of native oysters and identified barriers to setting up a shellfish supply chain.

This project set out to answer three research questions:

  • What are the benefits of native oyster restoration in Scotland in terms of provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services?
  • What are the wider applications and opportunities arising from initiatives such as Dornoch Environmental Enhancement Project (DEEP) which inform the potential restoration of native oyster beds?
  • What is the potential for economic growth and in meeting wider policy objectives?

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