Going with the flow: Tackling the environmental management of river flow

Going with the flow: Tackling the environmental management of river flow

Ensuring the economic, cultural and ecological value of rivers through more effective water flow management is the focus of a new research project led by the University of Leeds.

The new project is a ‘European training and research network for environmental flow management in river basins (Euro-flow)’, which will look beyond localised experiments and solutions and instead work collaboratively across disciplines, institutes and international boundaries.

Wildlife and human needs, such as water supplies and hydropower, depend on the healthy flow of rivers. Attempts to regulate the flow of rivers, either through dams, reservoirs or flood prevention, can often cause a major stress on ecosystems and water users.

The Euro-flow project is an international network of universities and businesses which will develop new insights into river management through experiments, large scale surveys and cutting-edge models. There will be strong emphasis on training a new cohort of researchers to be the science, business and policy leaders in the field of river and stream management.

Project leader Dr Lee Brown, from the School of Geography at Leeds, said: “Modifying and managing river flow causes ripple effects in ecosystems and human society which are still not well understood. We need to find ways of managing these flows to maintain important services such as flood prevention and hydropower while protecting and in some cases rejuvenating the aquatic environment

“River managers and scientists need to work together to develop this fundamental understanding to provide the best possible assistance with decision-making in the light of climate and environmental change.”

The £3 million Euro-flow project currently incorporates 10 universities and 12 business partners, including local business partner Yorkshire Water.

Lead Environmental Advisor for Ecology at Yorkshire Water, Dr Ben Gillespie said: “Bringing the best river flow research together with the practical experience of managing waterways means we can ensure these important natural resources are maintained in the best way possible.

“By drawing on a wide range of experiences worldwide, we will be able to apply the most successful innovations to our operations, to benefit the users of our rivers, as well as looking after them for future generations.”

Doctoral researchers from participating universities will be given the opportunity to carry out long term collaborative projects, including exchange visits to partner institutions and training with world-leading river ecosystem data and experiments.

A key aspect of the Euro-flow project is the cultivation of transferable skills for all of the project stakeholders. In addition to generating scientific, industry and policy insights the Euro-flow network aims to establish its participants as effective communicators, disseminators and entrepreneurs in the field of river flow management to create a real world impact.

Further information:

 For interviews and additional information please contact University of Leeds Media Relations Officer Anna Martinez on a.martinez@leeds.ac.uk or +44 (0)113 343 4196.

The University of Leeds is already leading in the field of river flow management. It hosts water@leeds one of the largest interdisciplinary centres for water research in any university in the world. The team encompasses expertise from the physical, biological, chemical, social and economic sciences and engineering.

EUROFLOW participants

University of Leeds, University of Cantabria, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Norwegian Institute for Water Research, University of Birmingham, , Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, University of Trento, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Oslo, Yorkshire Water Services LTD, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Italy), Environment Agency, Swiss National Park, Engadiner Kraftwerke, CBEC Eco-Engineering UK LTD, Landesbetrieb für Hochwasserschutz und Wasserwirtschaft, Delft University of Technology, Slovenian Water Agency, ARUP Ltd, Basque Centre for Climate Change, MWH Global

Funding for this project is provided by the European Union under the 2017 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks scheme.

University of Leeds

The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 31,000 students from 147 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group research-intensive universities.

We are a top 10 university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and positioned as one of the top 100 best universities in the world in the 2015 QS World University Rankings. We are The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2017. www.leeds.ac.uk