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Local Action Plan * formerly known as Developing an Eco-System Services (ESS) Approach for Urban Catchment Management - WT1580

This research will support Defra’s strategic goal to protect the environment, as well as being a priority within 2014 Defra’s Evidence Strategy for ‘managing water resources sustainably’ and promoting ‘Integrated Water Resource Management to ensure secure, safe, sustainable and affordable water supplies and improve water quality’.

This project will support the delivery of key parts of Defra’s Water Quality policy, most notably the Urban Diffuse Pollution strategy and the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA), both of which will contribute to improving our compliance with the Water Framework Directive.

This project is also aligned with the objectives of the EIS, and of Defra’s Water Availability & Quality Evidence Plan to develop better methods to value the full range of ecosystems services provided by natural capital assets such as water.

To date, much of our effort to improve water quality has focused on tackling pollution pressures from agricultural/rural environments. However, water pollution arising from urban areas is estimated to cause up to 10% of all water bodies to fail their environmental objectives. Furthermore, evidence about the range of social and health benefits provided by urban rivers suggests that resources invested in the urban environment can provide a very great return, as this is where most people interact with their environment.

The project will develop (and test in a pilot exercise) decision support tools to help weigh up the likely costs, environmental outcomes and ecosystem service benefits from a range of possible interventions designed to improve the natural water environment in urban areas, using a refined ESS approach that will improve ways of considering urban pressures and environmental services in these type of environments.
These tools will be of use to both urban and CaBA schemes and will support the delivery of Defra’s Urban Diffuse Pollution strategy. By providing urban community groups with practical tools and techniques for effective engagement of the wider community and better capture of benefits, they will be better able to generate local investment and collaborations to improve their local water environment, wellbeing and livelihoods-thereby reducing the pressure on Defra to fund local improvement schemes

The project will build upon ESS visualisation tools & techniques that are recognised as first-class by technical experts at the Environment Agency and Defra. The existing tools have been validated through widespread practical use by the Rivers Trust in catchment improvement schemes such as South West Water Services ground breaking ‘Upstream Thinking’ project (which influenced OFWAT’s acceptance and approval of similar projects). This project to further develop tools for use in urban settings will be steered by expert urban catchment practitioners and community action groups with significant input from EA economists with oversight provided by the CaBA Urban Catchment and Benefit Assessment groups. These independent, voluntary groups are comprised of practitioners and experts with proven track records in participatory catchment management. Their aim is to develop effective practices and to promote and support good practice across the growing community of practitioners. The Rivers Trust is heavily involved in these and other CaBA groups, providing a steer and technical expertise, especially in the development of effective participatory approaches and the tools and techniques this requires.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : WT1580 Local Action Project Final report   (7681k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2016

Cost: £100,000
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Westcountry Rivers Trust
River Catchments