Developing a Catchment Management Template for the Protection of Water Resources: Exploiting Experience from the UK, Eas

Lead Research Organisation: School of Oriental & African Studies
Department Name: Financial and Management Studies


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Description The project sought to derive a catchment management 'template' to compile and assimilate scientific understanding and governance procedures as tested in decision making and practice in catchments. This demonstrates how: to integrate scientific investigation with policy, governance and legal provisions; foster decision-making and implementation at the appropriate governance level to resolve conflicts; and share best practice.

The project conducted an international comparative analysis of catchment programmes with a focus on collaborative governance, local coordination and action, and tools for assessment, planning and knowledge exchange. Two catchments in England were investigated as case studies against which international lessons were tested: the River Tamar and the River Thurne. The project researched the current issues, water quality targets, pollution mitigation potential and governance systems in these two catchments. Results were integrated with the findings of the wider comparative study of governance arrangements, leading to the 'template'. There was also a higher level international analysis of land and water governance regimes, and of the transferability of policies, approaches and measures. A survey was conducted of collaborative governance in England and Wales, including the emergence of community-based catchment groups.

For the 'template' key components are an adaptive management approach, collaboration between agencies and levels of government and a 'twin-track' of deliberative partner and stakeholder engagement supported by scientific research. Programmes are best built from existing organisations and partnerships, centred on those with current management responsibilities, and working within the framework of prevailing law that facilitates partnership arrangements and appropriate delegation. Integrated land and water management involves local responsibilities and requires inclusive deliberation at local level under the framework of multi-level government. Thus locally acceptable responsibilities and rights must be translated from higher level regulation, with provision for inter-locality cooperation and coordination. Meaningful public participation can integrate environmental and public health criteria with economic and social goals, whilst catchment assessments, programme design and implementation are enhanced by local knowledge, acceptance and ownership.

Locally trusted technical providers are needed for capacity building and advisory work, not least with farming communities. Their essential functions include convening and mediating to foster trust, collaboration and co-production of knowledge. Capacity is needed for assessment of the condition of water resources and comprehensive planning. Monitoring of processes and outcomes is essential. Successful collaborative programmes require a shared knowledge base, skilled intermediaries, and high quality communication and decision-support tools. In meeting this need in the English case study catchments the project developed an Ecosystem Health Report Card and an innovative participatory and interdisciplinary modelling approach that enabled collective framing of the scale and severity of selected water quality problems.

The higher level analysis showed that the EU, USA and Australia have seen a discernible shift from top-down, hierarchical modes of governance of natural resources towards more networked forms, based on collaborative linkages and interactions between multiple actors and levels. In each case the shift endorses arguments for more collaborative public management of land and water. However, arrangements also differ. Both the EU and the USA still exhibit strong elements of hierarchical, vertical control and increased consultation and sharing of tasks does not necessarily equate to greater sharing of responsibility and decision-making. One explanation for this divergence is how federal multi-level governance is manifested in each context. The three jurisdictions exhibit different approaches to federalism and the variation in institutional, legal and political structures shapes the degree of collaboration occurring in water governance. This variation limits the scope to transfer organisational and institutional lessons from one jurisdiction to another, although catchment level techniques and tools transfer more readily. Several lessons emerge from the project's survey of collaborative catchment governance in the UK. An expansion of both community-based and state-led initiatives has been evident and information was compiled concerning capacity, funding, institutional profile and activity.
Exploitation Route Informing ongoing development of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) in the UK, and similar programmes in other countries.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Water is essential to society, the water industry constitutes a significant part of economic activity locally, nationally and internationally, and land and water management are crucial to environmental quality. Typically water resources are governed by top-down, hierarchical approaches at state level. In contrast this research has demonstrated the success of approaches that privilege local stakeholder input and collaborative management at catchment level. Research outputs have contributed to improved and reformed water management in the UK and internationally, evidenced by their adoption by local authorities, NGOs, Defra and others, and promotion in the guidance proffered by organisations including Defra, OFWAT, the Environment Agency, water companies, rivers and wildlife charities, and House of Lords contributions to EU policy. The project developed a catchment `report card' and an innovative participatory modelling approach for collective understanding of the scale and severity of pollution and solutions (the Extended Export Coefficient plus model; ECM+). These tools were developed in collaboration with environmental scientists from UEA. The ECM+ model continues to be used and adapted by rivers trusts in the UK, notably The Westcountry Rivers Trust. Catchment management was framed as a `wicked problem', and this has been widely adopted and cited. In November 2010, project outputs were presented to the Defra Water Policy team and senior managers of the EA and OFWAT. Following this a discussion paper setting out detailed prescriptions for catchment management in England and Wales was requested by Defra. An invited presentation was made at Defra's national Water Stakeholder Forum in March 2011, where the then Parliamentary Under Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries announced the adoption and piloting of a `Catchment Based Approach' (CaBA) for renewed EU Water Framework Directive implementation. Soon after, the Environment Secretary announced new funding for river restoration, including a Catchment Restoration Fund to support local projects and trialling of the new CaBA. In August 2011 Defra and the EA launched the CaBA with 25 pilot catchments, a quarter of all catchments in England and Wales. These were innovative trials of a more decentralised and adaptive approach supported by many of the research findings and recommendations made the research team. From 2011-12, the PI provided informal advice to Cascade Consulting, who were evaluating the 25 trials for Defra. In September 2012, the PI became an invited member of the EA Catchment Planning System External User Group. In October 2012, the PI was invited by Defra to join its Water Quality Professional Advisory Group, which advised both Defra and the EA on the development of a policy framework for national implementation of the CaBA. The new policy framework was published in May 2013. In June 2013, new funding and tendering for local catchment partnerships nationwide were announced, with contracts subsequently awarded to establish CaBA partnerships across the country. The project PI provided both written and oral evidence in 2011 to the House of Lords Select Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment, which addressed the UK's enactment of EU Water Policy. In the Committee's subsequent published report, the project is cited 15 times in the main text, and the project's management template is included in summary form as the final annex. The Committee concluded that freshwater should be managed at a more local, catchment level than is currently the case, allowing local rivers trusts, amenity groups, anglers and farmers to play a much greater role in decisions about water management in order to reconnect people with the value of water as a resource. The Committee agreed that catchment level management is a useful way to secure local involvement in water management; conclusions that follow the research findings. Endorsement and adoption of our research is also evidenced domestically by leading public, private and third sector agencies concerned with water resource management. Of particular note is the project's impact on the business practices of South West Water Ltd: "The project's twin track approach to water catchment management, combining robust science with comprehensive stakeholder engagement, has had a significant impact on South West Water and is instrumental in contributing to the company's evolving approach to its business. Martin Ross, South West Water's Environmental Manager, explained: "Previously there was no real connection between us and land managers, and the project gave us a way of guiding some initial engagement work in a much more comprehensive way ... now the whole of the company from the Chief Executive down is aware of our complete dependency on the way third parties treat land and water. We have begun to build a new business that is more outward focused and we are moving away from relying on expensive water treatment upgrading to sort out water quality."
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic