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South West Water – Natural Flood Management

Engaging the water industry with multiple benefit nature-based solutions

  • Devon, England

    Devon, England

Using geographic information system (GIS) mapping to find catchment opportunities to reduce flood risk and create habitat

With climate change affecting weather patterns, seasonal flooding can become a challenge in England. Water and wastewater systems are South West Water’s (SWW) business—almost two million people in Cornwall, Devon, parts of Somerset and Dorset and the Isles of Scilly depend on them. When SWW wanted to reduce the flood risk, while creating habitat, at three of their assets, they engaged us to study opportunities for natural resiliency.

We developed a method for SWW to identify where nature-based solutions could be implemented to reduce flood risk and promote resilience at their assets. Using a geographic information system (GIS) to identify natural flood management (NFM) opportunities, our team mapped opportunities to reduce flood risk and create habitat across three river catchment areas, based on three opportunity categories: woodland, river and floodplain, and runoff. A multi-criteria assessment (MCA) ranked the total potential throughout the catchment, prioritising areas with multiple benefits that include ecological and habitat improvement. Our stakeholder consultation identified active and pipeline NFM projects—which we mapped alongside landownership data and the highest-ranking MCA areas to highlight collaborative opportunities.

Our study highlighted potential locations for SWW investment and collaboration in nature-based solutions—SWW can use this method as a template for future asset resilience and habitat programmes.

At a Glance

  • South West Water (SWW)
Meet Our Team

Rob Riddington, Director of Water Management

Building relationships and recognising opportunities is essential to delivering successful schemes and sustainable habitats.
Rob Riddington Director of Water Management Read More

Gabrielle Powell, Graduate Water Management Consultant

I’m inspired by the possibilities of bringing together natural processes with local partnerships to create flood-resilient communities.
Gabrielle Powell Graduate Water Management Consultant Read More

Emily Downs, Graduate Data Analyst

I want to bridge the gap between technology and the environment to maximise how we manage, improve, and protect the natural world.

Rob Riddington

Director of Water Management

Gabrielle Powell

Graduate Water Management Consultant

Emily Downs

Graduate Data Analyst

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