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Questions looking for answers and vice versa: Environmental Regulation and Environmental Data". Dr Campbell Gemmell, SEPA.

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Presentation on theme: "Questions looking for answers and vice versa: Environmental Regulation and Environmental Data". Dr Campbell Gemmell, SEPA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Questions looking for answers and vice versa: Environmental Regulation and Environmental Data". Dr Campbell Gemmell, SEPA.

2 SEPA –who, what, how etc? Scotlands EPA Implementing EU, UK, Scots environmental law Excellent regulator and recognised authority on the environment Wide activity range – policy to permitting and monitoring & reporting 1240 staff, 22 offices, 4 labs, £61m t/o Modern public body/ NDPB/Governance Our mission is to protect and improve the environment of Scotland To achieve 6 outcomes re: air, water, land, waste, engaged protected public, contributing to economic and social wellbeing Annual targets and priorities set by Government. See website

3 Environmental Data Use in SEPA Effectiveness of measures monitoring (ie are actions that we and others take having the expected effect) Statutory reporting (EC Directives, eg Water Framework Directive) To inform wider State of Environment Reporting (forthcoming report and conference) Regulatory compliance assessment

4 Some Common Statistical Questions Is environmental quality getting better or worse ? Has our regulatory activity had an effect on the environment ? Is our monitoring representative ? What confidence do we have in the class assigned to this waterbody ? Is this data point an outlier ?

5 The Monitoring Challenge Faced Can we measure the environment effectively and efficiently? Are the data we collect able to tell us what we want to know ?

6 Some Current Data Quality Issues Values at limit of detection – How should we handle censored (<s) data appropriately? Work underway within SEPA examining use of more robust techniques. Unusually high (or low) values (outliers) How should we detect these? Work is underway to assess multivariate outlier detection methods.

7 Examples of Data Analysis 1.To inform stakeholders – eg. Nitrates Directive (NVZ) consultation 2.To predict current conditions – eg. Bathing waters signage project 3.To inform effective regulation – eg. Tay Estuary improvements 4.To report on the State of Scotlands Environment – eg. Diffuse Pollution, Data on Waste, climate change 5.To assess uncertainty – eg. Confidence of Class

8 1. Informing Stakeholders – Nitrates Directive EC Nitrates Directive required designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones if needed. Analysis of risk to both surface and groundwater quality informed designation. Historical data analysis undertaken by Environmental Assessment unit played key role. Analysis made available via dedicated website. Presentation of data enabled more effective communication of risk to stakeholders at public meetings involving farmers affected.

9 2. Predicting Current Conditions - Bathing Waters Signage Project Aims to predict good/poor microbial quality Inform users via electronic signs each day Predictions based on near real time rainfall and river flow data monitored by SEPA Predictions use Decision Tree models Models proving successful in forecasting correctly against current standards Looking promising for use with future (more stringent) EU directive standards

10 3. To inform effective regulation - Tay estuary - Waste Water discharge pressures = Waste Water Discharge = SEPA Monitoring point

11 To inform effective regulation - Tay estuary - Ammonia Inputs Ammonia inputs decreased substantially when Dundee sewage discharge was removed in 2002.

12 4. To report on State of Scotlands Environment – Diffuse pollution Diffuse pollution is a major pressure for all water body types Quantifying diffuse pollution pressures and impacts is difficult because: Diffuse pollution fluxes are very dependent on other factors (eg. weather, land management practices) There is a need for development of improved process and statistical models for quantifying and understanding diffuse pollution pressures

13 Sector pressures on rivers at risk (24%) from diffuse sources of pollution

14 To Report on Scotlands Environment: Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW)

15 To report on Scotlands Environment: Recycling and Composting Rate

16 To report on Scotlands Environment: Climate Change

17 Wetter winters

18 Consequences of altered river hydrology on stream chemistry Dissolved Organic Carbon trends

19 5. To Assess Uncertainty – Confidence of Class Statistics EC Water Framework Directive requires SEPA to quantify and report confidence in our quality classification scheme. Confidence of Class statistics encapsulate the uncertainties Confidence of Class statistics are used to prioritise programmes of measures.

20 Conclusions SEPA collects a lot of environmental data We need to make best use of it to answer a range of questions – we have lots of questions! Appropriate statistical analysis and modelling of data are increasingly important to us We want and need to embrace new assessment/ monitoring/ statistical methods and techniques where possible We need to employ individuals who are able to undertake appropriate environmental data analysis – closely connected to policy and practice specialists

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