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Managing Our Most Precious Resource

FWQ Programme

Professor Andrew Tyler, University of Stirling leads the MOT4Rivers research project which is part of the UK Freshwater Quality Programme. He argues for a wider understanding of our collective responsibilities in sustainable water management.

In a blog written for the Scottish Funding Council to mark UN World Water Day 2024, Professor Tyler who is also Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, also explains the disruptive nature of his role:

'Scotland’s identity is epitomised by plentiful water supporting wild, lush and productive lochs and glens.

Behind this identity, collectively we manage water and wastewater across one third of the UK’s land mass characterised by some of the most diverse natural and economic landscapes, from remote island communities to our industrial heartlands. Yet, the accelerating pace of climate change, which we experience through the increasing frequency of floods separated by ever more intense periods of drought, is impacting the equity of water supply and effective wastewater management.

This threatens the resilience of businesses and communities, drives biodiversity declines, carbon losses and impacts our food security. However, water is central to the Green Recovery, driving opportunities for energy and resource recovery, and the circular economy. Despite this, water often receives only tacit recognition in policy and planning, and there is little awareness in society of their role in the future of sustainable water management.

Delivering and going beyond net zero is therefore a moral imperative. The solutions for net zero must go hand-in-hand with climate adaptation and innovation that addresses the ambition of a just transition that delivers wider prosperity and supports a flourishing Scotland.

Meeting these challenges requires disruption of the status-quo of water management. Disruption includes the need to tackle the complex interaction of climate and land use changes through natural systems for water and wastewater management at the catchment scale, and not always focussing on the end of the pipeline.

We can only achieve this by breaking down siloes, aligning the complex jurisdiction of water management, and bringing the research and innovation (R&I) community together to accelerate interdisciplinary delivery of solutions. This summarises the key role of the Hydro Nation Chair (HNC) programme, funded by Scottish Water through the Scottish Funding Council..'

Read the full blog here: Managing our most precious resource

UK Freshwater Quality Programme

The MOT4Rivers project is part of the four year NERC Freshwater Quality Programme, titled ‘Understanding changes in quality of UK freshwaters’, which aims to:

  • investigate how pollutants enter, leave and interact with rivers and supporting ecosystems
  • determine how the movement of pollutants will be modified with changes in the water cycle
  • create better tools to monitor and measure pollution.

The programme oversees five different research projects, each focusing on a different aspect of water quality. Each project is interdisciplinary and brings together a range of experts needed to deliver the integrated and cross sectional research required.

Professor Joseph Holden and Professor Pippa Chapman water@leeds, are the Freshwater Quality Champions and leaders of the programme.