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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Rezatec uses Earth Observation to measure peatland integrity and inform restoration prioritization for Northern Ireland Water

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.

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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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