Integrated water resources and asset management at a catchment scale: a life-cycle improvement approach

  • Chrysoula Papacharalampou

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


In the water utility sector, traditional asset management focusses on the maintenance and provision of physical assets (infrastructure) that allow water companies to deliver their services, meet their customers’ expectations and achieve their economic objectives. Nevertheless, the serviceability of the sector heavily depends on natural elements (e.g. rain, land). The importance of Natural Capital (i.e. the natural systems and their deriving ecosystem services) has been at the core of policy recommendations which have shaped regulatory changes in the water sector of England and Wales. Water companies are now required to explicitly account for and report their inter-dependencies on the natural environment and adopt systems-oriented approaches in their Asset Management Programmes (AMPs). These reforms will enable the sector to become resilient to the environmental and societal challenges faced at urban and rural contexts. Responding to the regulatory demands, the research introduces a novel and structured approach for integrating natural capital in the asset management portfolio of the water industry. The work is built on a transdisciplinary research framework and demonstrates that a new scale needs to be considered for the implementation of Holistic Asset Management: the water basin or catchment. A Catchment Metabolism modelling schema was created, grounded on the principles of Integrated Catchment Management and ecosystems services. The schema is based on the robust synthesis of concepts, tools and methods from a spectrum of disciplines. These include Industrial Ecology, Water Accounting, Environmental Regional Input-Output Analysis, hydrology, software engineering and functional modelling. Catchment Metabolism introduces a holistic perspective in asset management and expands its scope. The schema enables the conceptualisation, modelling and management of catchments as complex asset systems. It, thus, forms the ground for structured collaboration among experts for integrated water resources planning and decision-making. The schema allows for the design and implementation of catchment-based strategies and the assessment of their environmental performance. An industrial case study for a pilot catchment system (Poole Harbour Catchment) is used to demonstrate the application of the Catchment Metabolism. Alternative strategies for nitrogen pollution mitigation are assessed. The application of winter cover crops across the catchment appears to be the optimum strategy. The case study demonstrates the practical and modular implementation of the schema, reveals its methodological strengths and limitations and evaluates its applicability in the asset management planning and decision-making of the water sector.
Date of Award27 Jun 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsWessex Water Services Ltd
SupervisorMarcelle McManus (Supervisor) & Linda Newnes (Supervisor)


  • catchment
  • asset management
  • Policy
  • water resources

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