Rezatec, the innovative landscape intelligence company, has been working with Northern Ireland Water to undertake an innovative study of its Dungonnell catchment, on the Garron Plateau, to the North of Belfast, using its cutting edge Earth Observation (EO) techniques. The aim of the project is to look at the integrity of peatland in the catchment area and its risk to water quality, as well as to provide a prioritisation assessment for restoration activities.
To measure peatland integrity Rezatec used a range of Earth Observation sensors from high resolution satellite imagery to ground based peat depth measurements, to analyse numerous aspects of peatland structure including the depth and volume of organic soil, the classification of vegetation types and the identification of man-made disturbances such as peat cutting and ditching.
With this focus on peatland degradation and disturbance and their subsequent threat to water quality, the project has provided Northern Ireland Water with risk assessments of the catchments to understand the extent to which the elevated quantities of carbon often found in degraded peat are contributing to the level of water treatment required to achieve Drinking Water Standards. Ultimately, this understanding will enable Northern Ireland Water to make decisions that will result in lower costs and better water quality.
Roy Taylor, Catchment Manager for Northern Ireland Water, commented: “This project has been a unique new opportunity to use cutting edge earth observation techniques to understand our water catchments. The project with Rezatec is giving us new insights into the environment from which we take our water supply, and how we can improve water quality and ultimately reduce water treatment costs by implementing the most effective restoration activities.”
Philip Briscoe of Rezatec added: “Our EO techniques have proved extremely useful in meeting the challenges of peatland management, giving Northern Ireland Water quantified information on ecosystem integrity presented through an online, interactive geospatial portal.”
Rezatec uses advanced, scalable techniques to offer what it has termed ‘landscape intelligence’, which takes large volumes of Earth Observation data and uses it to analyse environmental risk and changes in agricultural land use. Rezatec now works with five UK water companies, including Scottish Water and Bristol Water, leading the market in supporting catchment management by identifying potential threats to water supply, in particular from different sources of diffuse pollution such as degraded peatland and agricultural land use.