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co-funding of RELU projects - WQ0122

Description
FUNDING MORE THAN TWO RELU PROJECTS

PROJECT TITLE:

Developing a Catchment Management Template for the Protection of Water Resources: Exploiting Experience from the UK, Eastern USA and Nearby
Europe

A clean environment and good water supplies are vital to human health, quality of life and economic well-being. In the
UK nitrate and pesticides are recognised health risks, and the need to control phosphorus from agricultural and
domestic wastewater is paramount in achieving `good ecological status` for water bodies as required by the EU Water
Framework Directive (WFD). Indicative estimates of the costs of water pollution from agriculture alone are in excess of
£250 million per annum, whilst failure to meet WFD requirements by 2015 may incur heavy fines.
Reductions in pollution from point sources have been achieved through regulation, but the underlying water quality
problem in much of the UK is diffuse pollution derived from current and past land use (agricultural and urban) plus
atmospheric deposition. Diffuse pollution cannot easily be regulated because its sources are numerous and dispersed,
its pathways difficult to trace, its incidence uneven, and the costs of monitoring and enforcement high. Technical
solutions to mitigate diffuse pollution exist in the form of best management practices for farming and other polluting land
uses, but ultimately changes in land use may be needed. This is challenging because whilst farming is the main source
of diffuse pollution, it also produces goods, livelihoods and landscape attributes that sustain rural communities and are
valued by wider society, raising the questions of how best to protect water resources and who should bear the costs?
In the broadest terms the means to bring about the changes in behaviour and land use necessary include: taxes and
subsidies; regulation; voluntary agreements with land users (with or without compensation); advisory and education
campaigns; and land purchase and retirement. The focus for this research is how to determine and implement the best
combination of measures for a specific catchment, given local conditions and wider policy constraints.
The objective is to develop a `catchment management template` that provides guidance on the necessary steps to
achieve improvement, the governance arrangements that will be necessary for this, and a `toolkit` of techniques for
scientific research and for organisational and institutional development. This will demonstrate how to: integrate scientific
investigation with policy, governance and legal provisions; foster decision-making and implementation at the level of
government best able to resolve conflicting interests within catchments; and share best scientific, planning and
management procedures with catchment programmes in other countries.
The research will involve a detailed comparative analysis of catchment governance systems and institutional
arrangements for the management of catchment water resources drawn from case examples in the USA, UK and
nearby Europe, and supported by lessons from other wider international experience. A particular focus will be
identification of processes, organisational structures and institutional arrangements (including legal provisions) that can
promote and facilitate effective local coordination and action.
Two catchments in the UK have also been selected for intensive research, the upper reaches of the River Tamar in
southwest England and the River Thurne in the Norfolk Broads. These have been selected for their contrasting physical
characteristics (upland and lowland, respectively) and farming systems (dairy and arable, respectively). The upper
Tamar lakes are also important as a supply of drinking water while the shallow lakes in the Broads are internationallyrecognised
for their high biodiversity value. The project will research the current issues, water quality targets, pollution
mitigation potential and administrative constraints in these two catchments. Results will be integrated with the findings of
the wider comparison of international catchment management programmes, feeding into the generic `catchment
management template`.

PROJECT TITLE:

Understanding and Acting Within Loweswater: A Community Approach to Catchment Management

How do we move towards the sustainable management of rural land? Is the current model of land owners and
managers responding to carrot and stick initiatives by government bodies with responsibility for delivering a sustainable
environment the only option?
We propose an approach towards catchment management that is driven by an informed community working alongside
stakeholders. This approach builds on a number of advantages demonstrated by the Loweswater catchment in
particular. Loweswater is a small but variable catchment with demonstrated community involvement. The approach will
build on the premise that effective catchment management is dependent on ensuring the well being of those who live
and work within the catchment, on gaining a good understanding of the catchment using appropriate knowledge (local,
scientific, institutional) and on ensuring effective communication at all levels. The project aims for `sustainable rural land
management` or getting the best out of the Loweswater catchment in the long term for all concerned (i.e. a place to earn
a viable living within a vibrant community, a clean and attractive environment for people to live in and visit and one that
provides the ecological services that we all need from the countryside - including clean water and biodiversity).
Community involvement is central to the project and we propose to involve a person from the catchment to work parttime
alongside the researchers and `stakeholders` (LDNPA, RDS, EA, National Trust) for the duration of the project as
well as others that know the area and its issues (e.g. farm economists from Rural Regeneration Cumbria).
The project will involve researchers trying to understand the Loweswater catchment from a range of perspectives that
are all closely linked to one another;
1. People: who are the Loweswater community? How do they live in the catchment? What are the relationships
between the people and the land?
2. Land: what is the condition of land in the catchment? How is this dependent on those that manage it? What
functions does the land have - ecologically, economically and socially?
3. Water: this work will use work already done within the catchment by CEH looking at lake water quality and algae
and how they relate to land management and will build on it by looking at the impacts of changes in the catchment on
lake water quality and looking at fish populations in the lake (an important resource both from tourism and local
perspectives)
In addition to the scientists from different backgrounds working together towards a common understanding of the
catchment they will also work closely with the community and learn from their knowledge of the catchment and its
issues. Another strand of the project will look at the roles of stakeholder bodies in catchment management and will work
with them to identify effective community-based approaches to management. All stakeholder bodies mentioned above
have demonstrated great willingness to be involved with the project. As part of identifying an effective approach to
catchment management and paths towards a sustainable future for Loweswater, the project will highlight areas and
pursue practical (sometimes financial) solutions to issues arising in the rural environment.
Finally, as the project will be adopting a novel approach to catchment management, looking at the effectiveness of the
approach, and assessing its potential for other catchments and other scientific and technical controversies and
problems, will be an essential part of the project.

Objective
PROJRCT TITLE:

Developing a Catchment Management Template for the Protection of Water Resources: Exploiting Experience from the UK, Eastern USA and Nearby
Europe

The overall aim of this project is to investigate how best to integrate and extend the scientific and social
accomplishments of innovative catchment programs in the US and other European countries to catchments in the UK.
This will build on the RELU Capacity Building Award - RES-224-25-0031 / which successfully built a network of
researchers, water professionals and other stakeholders capable of investigating integrated solutions for water
resources protection.
A catchment management `template` will be derived which compiles and comprehensively assimilates scientific
understanding and governance procedures as tested in actual decision making and management practice in the project
catchments. This will provide a unifying framework that integrates holistic and interdisciplinary assessment of alternative
methods to protect water resources. It will demonstrate how to: a) integrate scientific investigation with policy,
governance and legal provisions; b) foster decision-making and implementation at the appropriate governance level to
resolve often conflicting environmental, social and economic objectives; and c) provide a basis for extending and
sharing best scientific, planning and management procedures with catchment programmes developing elsewhere in the
UK, other EU member states and USA.
The project aims to provide a detailed comparative analysis of catchment governance systems and institutional
arrangements for the management of catchment water resources drawn from case examples in the USA, UK and
nearby Europe, and supported by lessons from a wider international literature. A particular focus will be identification of
processes, organisational structures and institutional arrangements (including legal provisions) that can promote and
facilitate effective local coordination and action.
Two catchments in the UK have been selected for intensive research, the upper reaches of the River Tamar in
southwest England and the River Thurne in the Norfolk Broads. These have been selected for their contrasting physical
characteristics (upland and lowland, respectively) and farming systems (dairy and arable, respectively). The upper
Tamar lakes are also important as a supply of drinking water while the shallow lakes in the Broads are internationallyrecognised
for their high biodiversity value. Integrating physical, economic and social perspectives the project plans to
research the current issues, drivers of change, water quality targets, pollution mitigation potential and governance
systems in these two catchments. Results will be integrated with the findings of the wider comparative study of
governance arrangements, leading to the generic `catchment management template` for dissemination and extension.
There is a close match between these objectives and those of the RELU programme. The research will investigate
solutions for water resources protection (RELU Theme A), and contribute an interdisciplinary perspective on land and
water management. This is central to the RELU aim of advancing holistic and integrated understanding of the social,
economic, environmental and technical challenges facing rural areas. The research objective of determining how best to
protect water quality while sustaining a `living landscape`, is directly relevant to the RELU goal of `achievement of
sustainable rural development, encompassing the social and economic vitality of rural areas and the conservation and
protection of the rural environment`.

PROJECT TITLE:

Understanding and Acting Within Loweswater: A Community Approach to Catchment Management

Objectives
The main overarching objective of the research is to generate and carry out a focused, interdisciplinary body of
research, aimed towards sustainable catchment management, that involves the local community and stakeholders
within a new institutional mechanism.
The proposed research therefore directly addresses the RELU cross-cutting theme of `identifying appropriate
mechanisms for integrating social, economic and environmental goals in monitoring and management of change`.
There will be three main deliverables:
Deliverable 1
The creation of an institutional mechanism (hereafter referred to as the `Loweswater Knowledge Collective`) that will
enable community- and stakeholder-involved decision making to provide the basis for long term ecological, economic
and social sustainability within the catchment.
Deliverable 2
The second objective will consist of high quality interdisciplinary research, envisaged as necessary by the previous
scoping study in order to produce a catchment knowledge-base to inform decision-making. This will take the form of two
overlapping `research clusters` that will interact and cross-fertilise each other through the LKC, as well as through
existing research networks.
Research Cluster 1: Economic value, land and water
Research Cluster 1 has three aims:
1a) Terrestrial Ecology and Farm Economy
To understand the actual and potential ecological and economic value of land in Loweswater. and the relationships
between them.
1b) Linking Terrestrial and Aquatic systems
To assess, monitor and model the relationship between land/waste management in the catchment and water quality and
biotic diversity in the lake.
1c) Creating community and stakeholder informed decision-support mechanisms
To engage with the stakeholders in the research and to create community and stakeholder informed decision-support
mechanisms.
Research Cluster 2: Social, institutional and environmental interactions and the creation of new perspectives
Research Cluster 2 also has three aims:
2a) Institutional and policy context
To understand the legal, political and administrative structures, processes and mechanisms in order to see how
Loweswater`s social and natural environment might be managed and develop.
2b) Local knowledge
To understand local perspectives and knowledge of Loweswater and investigate lay understandings of its social,
cultural, economic and environmental dynamics, problems and opportunities.
2c) Cross-fertilising local, scientific and policy knowledges
To cross-interrogate the results of the different research strands (1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b) from an interdisciplinary
perspective to identify potential changes in framing, changes in research question, shifts in method that may be needed
to address issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability in the catchment.
Deliverable 3
Loweswater is a unique catchment, characterised by its own physical, economic, institutional and social dynamics. The
third deliverable will consist of research and analysis that considers the transferability of the approach proposed. The
research team will be focusing on what social learning can result from this kind of institutional experiment. There will be
transfereable lessons deriving from the creation of the Loweswater Knowledge Collective for catchment management
and rural land use in particular. It is anticipated that many of the generic lessons will relate to method: how to enroll local
communities, institutional stakeholders and researchers of different disciplines into a common vision and way of working
together that will promote a more holistic and sustainable way of approaching and solving particular environment-society
problems. The researchers consider, however, that there will also be transferable lessons for other areas of scientific
and technological problem solving that entail working with uncertainty and with a strong stakeholder-research interface.

Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2007

To: 2011

Cost: £125,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Economics and Social Research Council
Keywords
Social Research              
Sustainable Farming and Food Science              
Technology Transfer              
Water              
Water Framework Directive              
Water Quality              
Water Quality and Use              
Fields of Study
Water Quality