When we visited Loch Leven we saw another example of a successful restoration project, however, here the reduction of nutrient inputs into the stream to improve water quality and reduce algal blooms took decades to achieve. Phosphorus from human waste water has been drastically removed in the catchment, both from a waster water treatment plan, but also through an ingenious 125% rule by the council which meant that new developments had to ensure that they offset the phosphorous they output and more, for example by replacing an old septic tank system on somebody else’s property. Although these efforts took a while to show an effect, partly due to legacy phosphorus in the loch’s sediments, the loch’s biodiversity is now recovering with algal blooms being much less prevalent and in increase in bird and plant numbers, with some species of plant returning to the loch for the first time after over a hundred years. An increase in plants and zooplankton has in turn increased fish numbers in the loch, which is world renowned for its brown trout. This has brought back anglers, and increased recreation around the loch, boosting the local economy.
Reflecting on the summer school it is apparent that water has economic, social and environmental value. Scotland’s water resources can maximised through appropriate management and above we have states the case for both hard engineering solutions and softer catchment management approaches. No one approach to water management can provide all the social and ecosystem service value required to nourish Scotland and supports its economic and natural ecosystems. A Hydro Nation must be like the people that inhabit it – diverse!