CCN News

Reflecting on the CCN Annual Meeting
added on 12 07 2010 by Clare Black
I think I can safely say that the CCN first annual meeting last Tuesday can be declared a success.   A wonderful turn out (requiring a change to a larger Read more..

I think I can safely say that the CCN first annual meeting last Tuesday can be declared a success.   A wonderful turn out (requiring a change to a larger lecture theatre), some very interesting presentations and some very interesting discussion involving academics, environment agency, Ofwat, water companies, other practitioners, and artists!!  

Surely something of interest even for those who only came to get some CIWEM CPD credits and hopefully enough to keep some of you interested in keeping up with what is happening in CCN!!!   Certainly lots of interesting questions for future research.  Thanks to CIWEM for their support for the meeting (if you want to consider joining then go to:  www.ciwem.org).  Particular thanks to all the speakers, and to Ruth for managing the organization so well, including some very last minute requests. 

Now is the time for us to start planning the year ahead, taking account of the points that were brought up in the discussions.   As I said in my summary at the end of the day, the discussion had raised the bar for the ambitions of CCN, all we have to do is to solve the problem of involving all of society in integrated and sustainable catchment management.   As Graham Harris (Director here at LEC) noted on Tuesday, the Australian experience suggests that this might take some time!!

 That is not, of course, any reason not to make a start and we will be thinking about how best to do this in collaboration with other projects, such as the Defra Demonstration Test Catchments project which is now up and running (see, for example, http://www.edendtc.org.uk/ for the River Eden DTC project).   Any readers (is there anybody out there?) should feel free to make suggestions about workshops or training events that might be useful to you.

 The CCN Annual Meeting was always intended as an opportunity to reflect on research and training needs.   Things that I picked up on from the discussion was the limitations of existing modeling capabilities for water quality and ecology, the need to move to more risk-based approaches to catchment change and water resources management, the difficulties of doing so because there are so many uncertainties that are knowledge or epistemic uncertainties and therefore difficult to quantify, and the need to involve whole communities of local stakeholders (and re-create lost collective knowledge) in the issues posed by catchment change.   These issues are complementary (if difficult) aspects of integrated catchment management.

 As someone involved in modeling, the discussion about whether it was even possible to develop adequate models of water quality and ecology was particularly interesting.  Sharp opinions were expressed both for and against.   The problem is that prioritization of policy in environmental improvement requires some quantification of benefits resulting from potential investments – even if these might have a long time scale.   Those policies will be in competition with other potential investments at the national scale (and this competition will be stronger given the current economic outlook).  So there is a need to quantify…. as well as trying to achieve effective community buy-in to bring about sustainable improvements to water quality and ecology.   However, there is still much to understand about how to quantify some of these “complexity thicket” problems that are subject to epistemic errors about both processes, local parameters, and future boundary conditions.

Comments: 1
  1. martin furness Says:

    Keith, I completely agree with your review.An excellent start on stakeholder engagement for CCN and some interesting prompts for future research. The CCN should be seen as an integral element for addressing uncertainty in integrated and sustainable catchment management.It would be useful to explore how we can capture and sustain the level of interest shown and gain input from other key stakeholders to the future discussions. On research, I would like to see work on 1. models to help target controls on diffuse pollution at the local level rather than regional, 2. greater links with national/regional initiatives for catchment management to share data earlier in the process to help prioritise actions. I look forward to the next conference. Martin Furness, Ofwat

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Report from the DTC Modelling Workshop at Reading
added on 24 05 2010 by Clare Black
2 days in a room with facilitated post-it notes and people from Defra, the EA, Universities and elsewhere to discuss the (still potential) modelling program Read more..

2 days in a room with facilitated post-it notes and people from Defra, the EA, Universities and elsewhere to discuss the (still potential) modelling program to be associated with the Defra DTC (Demonstration Test Catchments) programme.   One day on the needs and relevance of modelling the impacts of mitigation measures to the DTC, and one day on what might actually need to be done.   The discussions ranged more widely than the DTC project alone, and (somewhat frustratingly) did not get as far as the details of what might be included in a DTC modelling framework (to be worked out by a smaller working group).  However, one of the final small group discussions was assigned to look at some Guiding Principles for modelling in this context.   In bullet point form, these were (as scribbled down quickly today as the group reported):    

  • Models should represent what matters
  • Models should contribute to the solution, they are not a solution themselves
  • Models should be framed by the question to be asked (including level of certainty of required)
  • Models should be adaptive learning tools for interaction with stakeholders as a way of developing understanding and trust
  • Modelling culture should be an important component of decision making
  • Model contributions should aid no regrets decisions
  • The ethical dimension of modelling should require the involvement of stakeholders
  • Uncertainty is not a dirty word
  • Standard inputs and outputs should facilitate model integration and coupling of models
  • Everyone can be wrong from modeller to decision maker to stakeholder.

 

These Guiding Principles gloss over some very difficult issues (such as what level of complexity is implied by “representing what matters”, or how to deal with epistemic errors) but do reflect the emphasis in the discussions on stakeholder involvement in the modelling process and the impact of model uncertainties in the decision making and policy setting process; both of which hold regardless of what particular model structures are considered as components of the DTC modelling framework. 

I thought that the outcome was of interest to the CCN, the concept of Guidelines for Good Practice that underlies CCN was in part developed to address some of the issues raised by these principles (and CCN was already quite well represented at the meeting).  Anyone want to comment on these or add further important principles that should be included……principles of model evaluation are not really included for example unless considered to be implicit in the adaptive learning process.

I am sure there will be more to report on the DTC modelling component, and its links to the NERC Virtual Observatory project in the coming months.

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Day one of planning the future of UK catchment modelling....
added on 21 05 2010 by Clare Black
Just back from day one of this meeting at the Innovation Centre in Reading. Building up the 'whats' and 'whys' of what is needed for a new model framework, Read more..

Just back from day one of this meeting at the Innovation Centre in Reading. Building up the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’ of what is needed for a new model framework, exploring the drivers. I was only able to make one of two days but I did find it quite slow progress. I guess that is how these things are. I think the key thing is the provide a generic platform that allows multiple and adaptive models to evolve and grow…of course easier said than done. Perrhaps the Virtual Observatory may be able to pave the way for that (more to follow on this I am sure). I am sure Keith will post a blog about the event as he stayed on for two days. Meantime here is a clip of Keith reporting back to the group on ‘Environmnetal Drivers’ yesterday…. best, Phil

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CCN Conference 2010-Managing an Uncertain Future
added on 05 05 2010 by Clare Black
Our first CCN Conference “Managing an uncertain future: Identifying needs and opportunities for sustainable adaptation in catchment management” will Read more..

Our first CCN Conference “Managing an uncertain future: Identifying needs and opportunities for sustainable adaptation in catchment management” will be held in conjunction with CIWEM (North Western Branch) at LEC on Tuesday 6th July 2010.

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Irish mini-catchments programme making good progress
added on 29 04 2010 by Clare Black
Last week I joined colleagues from the US and Ireland to chair the steering group of the Irish Mini Catchments Programme, now in its half way point of Read more..

Last week I joined colleagues from the US and Ireland to chair the steering group of the Irish Mini Catchments Programme, now in its half way point of an initial 5 years of funding c 2007-11. On this occasion the meeting was in the West, Co.s Galway and Mayo and this was the first time I had attended the steering group when the team was truely up and running. It reminded me that in any new catchment programme – like the one we are currently rolling out inthe UK – that it takes time to get things running. Phil Jordan and colleagues from Teagasc are doing a most excellent job in taking the initiative forward with some new new long-term data sets from around the country. I think that this is at the moment the best such programme in the world that I am aware f but I am worried that it must continue with funding beyind the current end projected for 2011. Catchment change is a long term game, we must consolidate on investments and see out initiatives into the future. Well done to Phil and colleagues, I look forward to the next meeting. Here are a few pictures from the meeting …..

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