Results show groundwater supports a large amount of natural capital and benefits
The Environment Agency (EA) asked us to create a methodology to undertake a natural capital assessment of groundwater and apply it to three pilot catchments studies—and England as a whole. They wanted to better understand and demonstrate the range and scale of environmental, social, and economic benefits groundwater provides at national and catchment level.
Working with Environmental Policy Consulting Ltd. as part of a multidisciplinary team, our analysis considered groundwater quality and quantity and how issues combine. It included monetary valuation of costs and benefits associated with assets and services. The methodology was based on a standard framework for natural capital accounting, designed to be scalable.
Results from the pilot catchments showed the potential variance in natural capital of groundwater across different catchments, but all outputs displayed the importance of groundwater to society.
The EA can now track changes in natural capital and analyse the impact of pressures on groundwater. The methodology supports strategic decisions, estimating costs of reductions, or losses of natural capital from over-abstraction. With this examination, the extent of natural capital values of groundwater could be realised.
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