South West Water looks to Rezatec to provide satellite-derived data analytics to understand peatland on Bodmin Moor

Rezatec has been using cutting edge Earth Observation techniques to assist South West Water on a project to map and understand the condition of its peatlands.  South West Water is working with partners in its Upstream Thinking Programme to improve drinking water quality and reduce treatment costs through improved catchment management around Bodmin Moor and Exmoor.

For South West Water and the Mires Partnership on Exmoor understanding the underlying peatland structure and integrity is crucial for restoration planning. The identification and subsequent blocking of drainage ditches allows the moor to hold more water and to release it more slowly, thereby reducing flood risk and improving water quality. Post restoration monitoring studies on Exmoor have shown that restoring peat bogs that had previously been drained resulted in a third less water leaving the moorland during rainstorms than had done so three years before.

With this in mind, Rezatec is applying its proprietary analytics to provide South West Water with comprehensive Landscape Intelligence maps for Exmoor and Bodmin Moor. Processing a variety of Earth Observation data such as optical, near-infrared, thermal and Lidar, Rezatec derives high-value Data Products, accessed via an online portal, that allow the company to understand the location, structure, and function of peatland in its drinking water catchments.

Rezatec’s work with South West Water support the water company’s ‘Upstream Thinking’ programme, designed to make environmental improvements to increase water quality in river catchments, thereby reducing water treatment costs, use of chemicals and energy consumption. The scheme, which covers nine of  South West Water’s key river catchments (including the Exe, Tamar and  Fowey), is restoring raw water sources and keeping them free of pollutants using better land management techniques to improve water quality and quantity at its source – reducing the cost of water treatment.

Dr David Smith, Upstream Thinking  Manager for South West Water, commented: “Our work with Rezatec is of great value to our business because it will allow us to better understand peatland on Bodmin Moor, which will steer our restoration planning efforts and ultimately reduce the costs of water treatment while improving the quality of water we can offer to our customers.”

Philip Briscoe of Rezatec added: “We are using proven techniques to map, measure and monitor peatland for South West Water, and are confident that the unique data and insights we are providing will inform effective decision-making across these catchments to drive cost efficiencies and environmental advances.”

The work is the latest in a series of projects undertaken by Rezatec to provide Earth Observation Data Products to the UK’s water companies, such as pipeline leakage detection and agriculture diffuse pollution mapping. The South West Water project is part of a wider project with the European Space Agency (ESA), which will see the development of a new spatial planning and knowledge management tool that provides critical support for organisations with environmental risk and landscape management challenges.

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Bristol Water uses Rezatec landscape intelligence to support its water catchment management programme

Rezatec is deploying its landscape intelligence portal platform to work with Bristol Water on a ground-breaking project designed to gain a deeper understanding of the impact changing agricultural land use and soil erosion has on water quality in its catchment area.

The initiative has a particular focus on changing land use in the Blagdon Reservoir and Chew Valley Reservoir catchments. Rezatec’s portal based analytics process satellite and ground data to identify changing patterns of soil erosion and agricultural intensification, which have a significant impact on the quality of the water supply. The Rezatec landscape intelligence platform performs a forty year look back and processes data from 1972 to the present day so as to identify both short and long term changes in the landscape.  

Landscape factors, such as agricultural practices related to specific crop types, can have a significant bearing on water treatment costs. Diffuse pollution associated with fertilisers and pesticides applied during the crop growth cycle can make its way into upstream water catchments through runoff and soil erosion, necessitating its removal downstream through expensive treatment so as to maintain the quality of the overall water supply.  It is hoped that by identifying potential pollution risks before they become an issue, ongoing water treatment costs and the frequency of acute pollution events can be reduced, and requirements to invest in new water treatment infrastructure will be delayed or even avoided.

Matthew Pitts, Environmental Programme Delivery Manager for Bristol Water, said: “This new and exciting way of understanding our water catchments promises to bring valuable insights into how we can enhance the environment and manage risks to water treatment and supply.”

He added: “Using innovative, cutting-edge landscape analytics, we’re confident that we can gain a better understanding of the potential pollution risks within our catchment. This will help us to focus efforts towards achieving improved water quality in our reservoirs, bringing ecological benefits, reduced treatment costs and ultimately better value for our customers.”

Rezatec’s Philip Briscoe commented: “From our analysis of different sources of Earth, airborne and ground data, we derive high-value data products which provide our customers with business insight on a macro and micro scale. We’re delighted to be providing Bristol Water with landscape intelligence that helps them to make better business decisions to derive tangible benefits for both the company and its customers.”

The data products are accessible on a subscription basis to clients through Rezatec’s landscape intelligence portal that allows water companies to view detailed environmental information about their catchment areas, ultimately supporting informed business decisions. Rezatec analytics help manage risk to the water supply by monitoring changes to agricultural land use and peat and soil integrity at a local and regional scale.

As well as Bristol Water, Rezatec is bringing similar insights to other water companies and looks set to benefit many more in the coming months.

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Scottish Water aims to use Rezatec peatland EO techniques to assist in protecting and improving source water catchments

Rezatec, the leading landscape intelligence data products provider, is working with Scottish Water on a proof-of-concept project to help assess peatland integrity across remote parts of their catchments to help protect and improve the quality of their source water.

High-resolution Earth Observation (EO) data, obtained mainly from optical and Radar satellite imagery, has been calibrated with spatial land cover and peat depth data to provide an accurate picture of peatland structure and integrity. Knowing the condition of peat can help Scottish Water focus any catchment activities.

Zoë Frogbrook, Technical lead for Catchment Management, Scottish Water said: “The use of earth observation data to assess peatland areas within our source water catchments will help us focus our activities to preserve important sources of drinking water. This not only helps to protect the environment but it will potentially reduce the cost of providing a clear fresh public water supply. If this project is successful then we may look at expanding Rezatec’s services across wider catchment areas.”

Patrick Newton, CEO at Rezatec commented: “Our combined processing of Earth Observation, UAV and ground data through the Rezatec platform is proving to be particularly useful for water utility companies wishing to take a cost-effective and scalable approach towards managing their water catchment areas. Peatland management is just one application that helps companies such as Scottish Water achieve these goals.”

Rezatec’s landscape intelligence platform offers a cost-effective way of measuring peat extent and how intact it is over wide and potentially remote areas that are otherwise expensive to measure or inaccessible from the ground.

Rezatec is bringing similar insights to other water companies and looks set to benefit many more in the coming months as well as in other sectors where its data products can also add value, for example, as a key part of the planning process for renewable energy projects, and, ensuring the quality and security of water supply for food and drink manufacturers.  

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