Leading environmental and sustainable drainage reports consultancy scoops innovation award on modelling ways to manage flood risk more naturally.
GeoSmart Information Limited (GeoSmart) was among the winners of this year’s Ordnance Survey Geovation challenge for its work on proposing how upstream river catchments can be made more sustainable to reduce flood risk to communities and promote sustainable catchment management.
Held at the Ordnance Survey’s headquarters in Southampton, the challenge this year focused on innovative solutions to real world water challenges and sustainable solutions in the UK. Teams competed and collaborated throughout the weekend to develop concepts into serious commercial solutions.
GeoSmart’s team was headed by two pre-eminent hydrogeologists, its Chairman, Mark Fermor and Consultant Steve Buss. The reference point was the extreme flood events in Cumbria and West Yorkshire last winter, understand how to disrupt the speed of runoff from rivers, which so devastated communities downstream, as well as the wider issues of sustainable catchments.
The team looked at how mechanisms such as the “re-greening “ of river tributaries through re-forestation and promoting sustainable drainage and barriers such as bunds or fallen trees and vegetation could slow down run off rates.
GeoSmart’s winning proposition is for a Sustainable Catchments web platform supporting all stakeholders involved in managing catchment flows on a common footing. It would initially map topographic, land cover and soils data, coupled with agricultural and urban land use information, to rate the opportunity for flood mitigation measures and facilitate communication across affected communities and stakeholders.
It could be extended by mapping the economic cost-benefit for vulnerable communities and assets. The platform would then examine the wider catchment benefits including water resources, water quality, habitat, biodiversity, amenity, fisheries.
The system and results could then be made available for flood managers and community groups to inform their approaches to land managers and implement schemes at the catchment scale.
Mark Fermor said: “This award is a terrific recognition and testament to the work that Steve has put in to developing the original proposition, and the excellent initiative by Geovation to help us to hone and refine the business proposition into something compelling and useful. We are looking now at how best to take these ideas further within GeoSmart’s ongoing research and development programme.
It’s time to think again about the wider sustainable catchments challenge, and how it can mitigate flood risk that continues to affect our communities. With joined up thinking, smart use of data and co-operation from authorities and land owners, we have a real chance to understand and work with nature rather than against her.”
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