Britain’s water infrastructure is valued at over £200 billion and worth over £10 billion per year; making the 389,000 kilometres of rivers one of our most important natural assets. With inadvertent (or deliberate) disturbance of the landscape feeding a river, water resources can become coloured, acidic, turbid or carbon-rich making them difficult or expensive to treat for our drinking water. Protecting the catchments surrounding rivers is increasingly seen as a key tool for the UK water sector to reduce treatment costs while improving the quality of our rivers.
DURESS research has demonstrated that day-to-day changes in these key water quality variables are primarily controlled by the natural water cycle and that this can be readily simulated. Successes with our simulation modelling (based on novel river data) offers the potential to reduce water treatment costs and risks by warning of pollution incidents or forecasting changes near water abstractions.