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Review of the economics of sustainable land management measures in drinking water catchments

Investing in sustainable land management measures leads to wider benefits, both tangible and non-tangible

Project aim

The aim of this project was to review the economics of sustainable land management measures in catchments where abstraction for the provision of drinking water takes place. Funding was provided by CREW (Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters) and it ran from February – May 2013.

Project objectives

The objectives were to:

  • collate and review existing evidence from catchment management projects that are taking place between UK water companies and a range of partners
  • provide information on the comparative costs of drinking water treatment with and without sustainable land management measures
  • present information on indirect costs and/ or benefits of sustainable land management, for example in relation to carbon storage, habitat provision and amenity value.

Methodology

Review of literature and personal communication with water companies.

Key results

  • Water companies are not able to share data needed to assess the comparative costs of drinking water treatment with and without sustainable land management measures, as this information could potentially give competitors an advantage. We conclude that the commercially confidential nature of water treatment costs mean it is not currently possible to make direct comparisons of the costs and benefits to water treatments using sustainable land management measures.
  • Despite this, the available evidence suggests that these measures are valuable to water companies and to improving water quality more generally because of the range of economic, social, environmental benefits that are produced
  • The early stage of many of the projects reviewed means that measuring the comparative costs of drinking water treatment with and without sustainable land management measures is still in development.
  • Restoring peatlands is known to improve water quality and reduce water treatment costs. Early intervention to restore damaged peatlands further increases cost-effectiveness.
  • Investing in sustainable land management measures leads to wider benefits, both tangible (for example, carbon sink through afforestation) and non-tangible (for example, the provision of desirable habitats and recreational places).

Key contact

Sue Morris, Kirsty Holstead

Project Information
Project Type: 
Archived Project

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.