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Valuation Of The Ecosystem Services Provided By Natural Looking Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (suds).

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Joy Jarvie, Scott Arthur, Lindsay Beevers
Heriot Watt University1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 14: Valuing water: monetary and non-monetary dimensions,
AbstractAuthors: Joy Ann Jarvie (, Dr Scott Arthur (, Dr Lindsay Beevers (


Sustainable Urban Drainage systems (SUDS) are engineering solutions with the intention to mimic natural systems. SUDS were introduced to Scotland in the early 1990s with the establishment of the Forth Purification Board, latterly known as SEPA, in 1994. Their design is based on the SUDS triangle which incorporates water quality, water quantity and amenity drivers. Until recently, the main focus was diffuse pollution and how SUDS offered a unique opportunity for pollutant removal from urban and peri-urban water courses. Climate change has increased the awareness for SUDS in terms of the benefits for pluvial flood risk management. Very little, however, has been done to quantify the benefits from SUDS in terms of the three main pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental factors.

The often overlooked component of the SUDS triangle is the amenity component, especially with respect to habitat. It is therefore the focus of this paper to make the connection between aquatic habitats (ponds and wetlands) and the amenity and biodiversity functions offered. Habitat is fundamentally important to SUDS and assessment of Ecosystem Services. Ecosystem Services refer to the end user benefits obtained from the environment. Very few studies, to date, assess the Ecosystem Services from SUDS- although attempts have been made from the social science studies in terms of conceptualising SUDS and Ecosystem Services (Lundy and Wade, 2011; Scholz and Uzomah, 2013) none have assigned a monetary value to these services.

The main focus of this paper, therefore, is to highlight the importance of Ecosystem Services as part of the valuing process in SUDS. It will align well established techniques in eco-hydrology with monetary valuation using Contingent Valuation Methods (CVM). Methods and preliminary results, with a discussion section, will be presented. It is hoped that the study will allow for inter site comparison to inform environmental management and planning decisions- as well as providing a benchmark for future studies.


The aim of the research is to place a monetary value on the Ecosystem Services, provided by natural looking SUDS, using Contingent Valuation Methods.

Paper objectives:

1) discuss methods

2) present preliminary results for field work; as well as key lessons learned from field work.


1) Quantifying the benefits from three SUDS ponds in terms of ecology by a) sweep sampling (BS EN ISO 10870, 2012) and b) vegetation transects.

2) Testing public perceptions about the intrinsic benefits of nature by carrying out surveys using Contingent Valuation Methods.

3) Placing a monetary value on the main benefits, and ES, associated with SUDS ponds and wetlands with the hope of formulating a framework.

Results and discussion:

Preliminary results from Granton, Edinburgh, indicate that there are 18 families of macro invertebrates in the pond. Biological Monitoring Working Party (BMWP) scores refer to the biological quality of lentic (slow, or no flow) and lotic (flowing) water bodies, and provide an indication of water quality. Average Score per Taxon (ASPT) refers to the water quality of lentic or lotic water bodies. These scoring methods are useful to see how polluted or impacted a particular water body is, and in the context of this PhD- the ponds being monitored.

Tables 1, 2, 3, and 4 show that BMWP scores are low, with a range of 2-26 and the ASPT ranges from 2-5. Table 5 highlights some of the scores from previous ecology studies in urban ponds. Noble and Hassall (2014) reported similar ASPT scores to the preliminary findings which suggest that the water and biological quality is poor or very poor in the pond studied. However, it was observed that there was a high level of litter present in the pond as well as some oil on the surface. Similarly, urban stressors influence the results in the Bradford case study.

Table 1: July results, Granton 2014

Table 2: August results, Granton 2014

Table 3: September results,Granton 2014

Table 4: October results,Granton 2014

Table 5: Summary and Interpretation

Further assessment of Granton Pond is needed before valid conclusions are made. Preliminary results do suggest that the biological quality of the water is better in some parts of the pond- but is overall classed as poor. However, in terms of water quality, changes occur on a monthly basis with water quality decreasing as the seasons develop. In terms of impact it will be useful to test public perception and see whether habitat and biodiversity of SUDS has a higher regard than engineering benefits such as flood protection.

Preliminary conclusions:

1) BMWP and ASPT Scores vary from month to month, and local climate (rainfall patterns) may factor into this.

2) There is notable pollution, from litter, noted in the Granton pond which may influence public perception.

3) Table 5 puts the preliminary results in context of other studies where biological quality is poor in pond and wetlands.

4) It will be useful to compare the three ponds and determine whether time has an influence on a) rate of establishment and b) the level of degradation.

1. Batty, L.C. Charles,R. and Elliot, V.(2010) Macroinvertebrate communities in Constructed Wetlands: Diversity and Bioaccumulation.Specialist Group on Use of Macrophytes in Water Pollution Control Newsletter No. 36

2. British Standards Online, Water quality — Guidelines for the selection of sampling methods and devices for benthic macro invertebrates in fresh waters (ISO 10870:2012), accessed [online] at:, on 05/08/2014

3. Heal, K.V et al., (2006) The use of ponds to reduce pollution from potentially contaminated steading runoff.AGRICULTURE AND THE ENVIRONMENT VI:Managing Rural Diffuse Pollution, Proceedings of the SAC and SEPA Biennial Conference Edinburgh 5-6 April 2006, 62-70.

4. Lundy, L. and Wade, R. (2011) Integrating Sciences to Sustain Urban Ecosystem Services, Progress in Physical Geography, 35, 653-669.

5. Noble, A. and Hassall, C. (in press) Poor ecological quality of urban ponds in northern England: causes and consequences, Urban Ecosystems.

6.Scholz, M. and Uzomah, V.C. (2013) Rapid decision support tool based on novel ecosystem service variables for retrofitting of permeable pavement systems in the presence of trees. Science of the Total Environment,458-460, p486-498

7. Sriyaraj, K. and Shutes, R.B.E. (2001) An assessment of the impact of motorway runoff on a pond, wetland and stream,Environment International,26,( 5–6), 433–439

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