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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Adams, R., Quinn, P., Barber, N. & Reaney, S. The Role of Attenuation and Land Management in Small Catchments to Remove Sediment and Phosphorus: A Modelling Study of Mitigation Options and Impacts. Water. 2018;10:1227.

Author(s) from Durham


It is well known that soil, hillslopes, and watercourses in small catchments possess a degree of natural attenuation that affects both the shape of the outlet hydrograph and the transport of nutrients and sediments. The widespread adoption of Natural Based Solutions (NBS) practices in the headwaters of these catchments is expected to add additional attenuation primarily through increasing the amount of new storage available to accommodate flood flows. The actual type of NBS features used to add storage could include swales, ditches, and small ponds (acting as sediment traps). Here, recent data collected from monitored features (from the Demonstration Test Catchments project in the Newby Beck catchment (Eden) in northwest England) were used to provide first estimates of the percentages of the suspended sediment (SS) and total phosphorus (TP) loads that could be trapped by additional features. The Catchment Runoff Attenuation Flux Tool (CRAFT) was then used to model this catchment (Newby Beck) to investigate whether adding additional attenuation, along with the ability to trap and retain SS (and attached P), will have any effect on the flood peak and associated peak concentrations of SS and TP. The modelling tested the hypothesis that increasing the amount of new storage (thus adding attenuation capacity) in the catchment will have a beneficial effect. The model results implied that a small decrease of the order of 5–10% in the peak concentrations of SS and TP was observable after adding 2000 m3 to 8000 m3 of additional storage to the catchment

Department of Geography