Local Resource Options in agricultural water resource management

Local Resource Options in agricultural water resource management

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Propelling sustainable water management into the future

A recent collaboration between JBA Consulting and the Environment Agency (EA) has led to the development of a novel methodology for Agricultural Local Resource Options (LROs), propelling sustainable water management into the future. Commissioned by the Environment Agency, our mission was to create a scalable solution that would support resilient food production while safeguarding our natural resources. The project team comprised specialists from JBA and water management consultant Melvyn Kay.

The challenge is clear: adapt agricultural water management to meet the dual demands of climate resilience and environmental stewardship. We embarked on the project to enhance the sustainability and resilience of agricultural water resources. Our goal? To empower Water Abstractor Groups (WAGs) with a scientific approach to identify, screen, and rank water resource options that could withstand the test of climate variability.

Developing the Framework

The cornerstone of our approach was the development of a multi-criteria decision analysis framework. It was designed to be pragmatic and adaptable as well as  intricately tailored to the complex dynamics of water resource management. By engaging with stakeholders and listening to their views — farmers, landowners, and policymakers alike — we ensured the framework resonated with those on the ground, leading to practical and applicable solutions.

Key milestones and innovations

Stakeholder Workshops: The collaboration began with stakeholder workshops. From focused interviews to stakeholder engagement sessions, we fostered an environment of open dialogue to capture diverse perspectives.

Pilot Studies: The application of our methodology was tested on the field. The Pilot project highlighted and the importance of real-world testing of the methodology.

Iterative Refinement: Our methodology wasn't static. We continuously evolved the framework, to remain responsive to stakeholder feedback and new information.

Future considerations

Our journey with the EA and the LRO project has highlighted important factors for the future:

  • The importance of flexible and responsive methodologies that can adapt to policy shifts and environmental needs.
  • The power of stakeholder engagement in creating solutions that are both sustainable and accepted by the community.
  • The potential of innovative and traditional  practices and use of technologies to transform water resource management in agriculture.

What next?

The LRO screening methodology is a leap towards empowering abstractors and water managers to make informed sustainable and adaptive decisions. It encourages a participatory approach, integrating the knowledge and preferences of local stakeholders into water management strategies.

The methodology also recognises the importance of flexibility, allowing for the inclusion of novel technologies and practices as they become available and relevant. By doing so, it ensures that the framework remains applicable not just today, but for years to come.

The LRO screening framework developed by JBA stands as a testament to the value of collaboration and innovation in facing environmental challenges. We are excited to continue this journey, contributing to sustainable agricultural practices and the wellbeing of communities that rely on them - supporting clients and communities in their pursuit for resilience to climate change.

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Contact Eva Kordomenidi for information about the new methodology for Agricultural Local Resource Options (LROs). Discover more about JBA's water resources work here. Managing our water resources

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