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A strategic programme for NERC Lowland catchment research
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Good water management must be based on the best information. This is where LOCAR, the Lowland Catchment Research Programme, comes in.

A tractor ploughing

The Programme has allowed scientists to unravel the complexities of how water and the material it carries move through permeable catchments. Catchments like these provide much of the drinking water for England, but both ecosystems and our drinking water are under threat from rising demand for water, a changing climate and a pollution 'time bomb' from agricultural chemicals and other pollutants already in the ground.

LOCAR, the Lowland Catchment Research programme, was a £10 million research programme which ran from 2000 to 2006, funded by NERC with additional funding from Defra, the Environment Agency and the Joint Infrastructure Fund. The programme provided a 5m infrastructure for research: LOCAR involved the largest programme of drilling boreholes for research ever undertaken in Britain. £2m was invested in the basic data-collection systems, the management of the data and coordination of the project, and £3m for 12 research grants and 3 research studentships. Another 16 research students joined the programme using funds from other sources.

LOCAR brought together a multidisciplinary team of around 75 scientists and students, from 14 institutions in 12 major interdisciplinary projects. These researchers studied different components of the complex path that water takes through permeable catchments. Their work studying and modelling the hydrology, geology and ecology in three river catchments on porous rock (Chalk and sandstone) gives a unique picture of how such systems function as a whole.

LOCAR provided the science required to support current and future management needs for permeable lowland catchments through an integrated and multidisciplinary experimental and modelling programme.

The results are relevant to government, regulators, fishermen, farmers, conservation groups, land and water managers, local authorities and the general public. This web site presents an overview of what we have learned: what happens to our water from rainfall to river.