By 2050, the South East of England will need to find at least an additional one billion litres of water per day to meet demand in the region. That is about a fifth of the water used in the region today, and equivalent to the water use of seven million people per day. Demand for water will exceed supply by 2030.
This is because of a combination of different factors. Some of it is because of the expected growth in population (even if personal water consumption is reduced). Some because water companies are trying to ensure that they have enough water available to continue supply even during more significant drought periods.
Finally, climate change will affect when water is available, and how much. Unsustainable abstractions need to be reduced in order to avoid our rivers and wetlands being damaged beyond repair.
We have finally been able to install some of our baseline monitoring equipment, which we are using at one of our pilot sites for the PROWATER project!
PROWATER is a partnership project that the South East Rivers Trust is delivering locally with Kent County Council and South East Water. The project will investigate the opportunities for ecosystem-based adaptation to water scarcity and climate change.
As water is a scarce resource in South East England, we are interested in understanding the impact of different habitats and land management options on the availability of water. A lot of our public water supply in the South East comes from groundwater stored in underground reservoirs, also known as aquifers. These aquifers are normally recharged by winter rainfall. The quantity and quality of water recharged is highly influenced by how the land on top of the groundwater body is managed. PROWATER aims to understand how to quantify the benefits from those different management options, and how to reward those managing the landscape, like farmers and foresters, for making choices that protect those water resources.
Earthworms are probably not the first iconic species you think of in the context of river health. It’s easy to laugh at the notion that the wriggly pink strings that hide underneath your compost bin are a key part of a functioning hydrological system – and yet they, and the soil they live in, are.
Soil stores, purifies, retains and drains water – regulating its flow to groundwater bodies and rivers alike, and playing a key role in water quality by taking up nutrients or releasing sediment. Like any ecosystem, soil relies on a complex network of interactions between organisms of all sizes, as well as physical and chemical processes, and much more, but earthworms in particular tell us a lot about how our soil is functioning and in turn influence how it behaves.