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A framework for managing runoff and pollution in the rural landscape using a Catchment Systems Engineering approach

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mark Wilkinson, Dr Paul Quinn, Nicholas Barber, Dr Jennine Jonczyk

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Abstract

Intense farming plays a key role in increasing local scale runoff and erosion rates, resulting in water quality issues and flooding problems. There is potential for agricultural management to become a major part of improved strategies for controlling runoff. Here, a Catchment Systems Engineering (CSE) approach has been explored to solve the above problem. CSE is an interventionist approach to altering the catchment scale runoff regime through the manipulation of hydrological flow pathways throughout the catchment. By targeting hydrological flow pathways at source, such as overland flow, field drain and ditch function, a significant component of the runoff generation can be managed in turn reducing soil nutrient losses. The Belford catchment (5.7 km(2)) is a catchment scale study for which a CSE approach has been used to tackle a number of environmental issues. A variety of Runoff Attenuation Features (RAFs) have been implemented throughout the catchment to address diffuse pollution and flooding issues. The RAFs include bunds disconnecting flow pathways, diversion structures in ditches to spill and store high flows, large wood debris structure within the channel, and riparian zone management. Here a framework for applying a CSE approach to the catchment is shown in a step by step guide to implementing mitigation measures in the Belford Burn catchment. The framework is based around engagement with catchment stakeholders and uses evidence arising from field science. Using the framework, the flooding issue has been addressed at the catchment scale by altering the runoff regime. Initial findings suggest that RAFs have functioned as designed to reduce/attenuate runoff locally. However, evidence suggested that some RAFs needed modification and new RAFs be created to address diffuse pollution issues during storm events. Initial findings from these modified RAFs are showing improvements in sediment trapping capacities and reductions in phosphorus, nitrate and suspended sediment losses during storm events. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Quinn PF; Jonczyk J; Wilkinson ME; Barber NJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science of the Total Environment

Year: 2014

Volume: 468-469

Pages: 1245-1254

Print publication date: 20/08/2013

ISSN (print): 0048-9697

ISSN (electronic): 1879-1026

Publisher: Elsevier BV

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.07.055

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.07.055


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