Aquarius: farmers as water managers

Aberdeenshire Council and the Macaulay Institute are starting a new project – ‘Aquarius’ - that will work with farmers and land managers to look at ways in which water quantity might be best managed under current and future climate change. The focus of the project is the Tarland Basin and the project will support the development of the Tarland Flood Prevention Scheme. 

The development of the Tarland Flood Prevention Scheme will look at a range of potential flood alleviation options in the catchment to relieve flooding pressure on the villages of Tarland and Aboyne. The Aquarius project will work with farmers to better understand the costs and benefits of such options and how such options could positively contribute to the farm business. We will also seek to achieve multiple objectives, such as enhancing bio-diversity; improving water quality and adding to the beauty of the landscape.

The Aquarius project started in March 2009 and will have four phases. The first phase, lasting until December 2009, will establish the current conditions, predictions for climate change and its impacts, and the preferences of local stakeholders (farmers, local residents, land owners, statutory agencies, fishery interests etc). The second phase will explore possible options, their feasibility and identify a possible pilot demonstration site; and implementation of a pilot site (phase three) is planned for late 2010 – 2011. The final phase will evaluate the pilot in order to inform policy and funding mechanisms for measures that will be required under the forthcoming Flood Risk Managemen (Scotland) Act. The project ends in January 2012.

Aquarius is an Interreg IVb project funded by the European Commission with match funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural Environment and Rural Affairs Directorate and Aberdeenshire Council. We will be learning from those who have implemented similar approaches in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

For further information, please contact Linda Mathieson from Aberdeenshire Council (01467 628380, Linda.mathieson@aberdeenshire.gov.uk) or Keith Matthews from Macaulay Institute (01224 395271, k.matthews@macaulay.ac.uk). Our website will be available shortly and we are planning to hold some stakeholder engagement events over the summer.

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