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Building water and environmental resilience to adapt to climate change

PROWATER is a European-funded partnership project aiming to address the impacts of climate change and enhance the availability of raw water for people and the environment.

Addressing UN Sustainable Development Goals

7%

total supply of water forecast to fall by 2045 due to climate crisis

14%

Predicted increase in population of South-East England by 2024

€5.5 million

total cost of project

60%

of the project is funded by European Regional Development Fund and remaining funded by project partners'

“The benefits of the measures will be identified so that a 'Payment for Ecosystem Services' model can be developed. This model will investigate how organizations that take measures to combat water scarcity can receive compensation. In return, they provide services to society by improving the quality of the living environment.”

David Hinton, CEO Designate

Protecting and restoring raw water sources through actions at landscape level.

In England, climate change will lead to hotter, drier summers and wetter warmer winters. Increased flood risk and higher likelihood of drought periods are expected. South East of England is one of the driest parts of the UK, classified as seriously water stressed by the Environment Agency.

To address this problem, Vantage and its partners invested in a cross border 4-year project entitled PROWATER. The project will help in assessing the long-term vision of water demand and supply challenges in the region. It will further contribute to climate adaptation by restoring the landscape’s ability to store water through careful catchment management with the help of ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) measures to showcase their positive effect, through forest conservation, natural water retention or restoration of compacted soils.

The project so far has identified three pilot areas in south east England to prove the concept including: the East Kent Chalk aquifer, Friston Forest and the River Beult.

The project is done in collaboration with ten partners from Belgium (de Vlaamse Overheid – Departement Omgeving, Universiteit Antwerpen, provincie Antwerpen, PIDPA and Natuurpunt), the Netherlands (Waterschap Brabantse Delta) and the United Kingdom (Westcountry Rivers Trust, Kent Count Council, South East Water and South East Rivers Trust). In each country, water companies, governments and research institutes, as well as land managers, are involved in order to achieve a supported vision.

South East Water and Interreg from South East Water on Vimeo.

Situation

The south east of England is the most densely populated in the UK, with a high population growth of up to 14% estimated by 2024. According to the Environment Agency, south east England is one of the driest parts of the UK and is classified as a ‘seriously water stressed area’. Climate projections point to drier and warmer summers with more extreme and concentrated heavy rainfall events and severe droughts.

Many of the region’s rivers and aquifers, underground layers of water-bearing permeable rock, are already under severe resource pressure and the prospect of even higher demand is of serious concern. This means the demand for water is high and is projected to increase. With climate change impacting weather patterns, we can expect longer periods of drought and shorter but heavier rainfalls.

Action

PROWATER is a European-funded partnership project aiming to address the impacts of climate change and enhance the availability of raw water for people and the environment.

The PROWATER project is a 4-year cross-border cooperation between ten partners from the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. In each country, water companies, governments and research institutes, as well as land managers, are involved in order to achieve a supported vision.

• The project aims to increase resilience against droughts and floods and will also benefit water quality and biodiversity.
• It further contributes to climate adaptation by restoring water storage in the environment through catchment management. This will be done through forest conservation, natural water retention and restoration of compacted soils.
• It will develop a long-term assessment and vision on water demand and supply challenges in the region.
• Three pilot areas have been identified – East Kent Chalk aquifer, Friston Forest and the River Beult -, where EbA measures will be applied to showcase the effective implementation on the ground.
• PROWATER has a budget of €5.5 million and is due for completion in 2022.

Financing Model: Payment for Ecosystem Services (PPP-like model)

Based on this model, the organisations that take measures to combat water scarcity will then receive compensation. In return, the idea is that they will provide services to society by improving the quality of the living environment. The purpose of the model is to bring the buyers and sellers of the services together into a financial market. As water providers South East Water benefits from this arrangement by securing a sustainable water resource, along with improved water quality.

Benefits to economy

• Over the 4-year duration, the project will contribute to climate change adaption by assessing the long-term vision of water demand and supply challenges in the region.
• The EbA measures in three pilot areas in the south east of England regions namely the East Kent Chalk, Friston Forest and the River Beult will be implemented to showcase their effective implementation. These measures will be based on the spatial targeting tool developed in the project and the long-term vision built with beneficiaries and providers of the ecosystem services.
• This project will enable to close the information gap by developing a vision to tackle water scarcity and drought risks in the longer term.

Benefits to community

For the communities impacted, the benefits are likely to include:
• Increase in awareness of the potential consequences of climate change.
• Enabling stakeholders to develop a collective approach towards planning and innovative solutions for environmental and economic resilience.
• The high regional and international attention for the project stimulates the project team to deliver on the raised expectations.

 *The partners from Flanders are: de Vlaamse Overheid (Departement Omgeving), Universiteit Antwerpenprovincie AntwerpenPIDPA and NatuurpuntThe partner from the Netherlands is: Waterschap Brabantse DeltaThe partners from the United Kingdom are: Westcountry Rivers TrustKent County CouncilSouth East Water and South East Rivers Trust.