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Distinction for Jessica Webb

The Team at Wiser Environment congratulates Jessica Webb on her accomplishment in the field of flood risk management and aquatic science. Jessica has achieved a distinction with their Master’s thesis entitled: ‘Investigating the use of Runoff Attenuation Features (RAFs) to mitigate flood risk and improve water quality in the Alconbury Brook catchment, Huntingdon’.

Jessica and their Master's thesis

A proud Jessica Webb celebrating her MSc in Aquatic Science.

Researching at the University College London, Jessica collaborated with the Environment Agency to demonstrate how the application of RAF modifications can mitigate flood risk and deliver biodiversity benefits efficiently.

RAFs comprise large woody debris, woodland or ponds. Such features can help protect the natural function of catchments, rivers, floodplain and coasts.

Moreover, Jessica’s study spotlights the Alconbury Brook catchment. Here, the town of Alconbury Weston frequently sufferers from flooding. The general consensus is that a suite of catchment-wide pond RAFs will lessen the risk of flooding. Jessica’s research challenges that consensus.

Jessica identified that targeted distribution of storage, rather than catchment-wide storage, was more effective and efficient at mitigating flood risk.

Through the application of novel natural flood management modelling, Jessica was able to establish that strategically placing numerous small RAFs in the headwaters reduced peak flow downstream. For a 1 in 5-year event, a 4.4% reduction results in a delayed hydrograph peak of 4 hours. This could significantly help to alleviate flood risk in Alconbury Weston.

Therefore, these results reveal that there is potential to mitigate flood risk in the catchment. Furthermore, a purposefully designed network can function as an interconnected system that will deliver improvements to water quality and biodiversity.

Jessica celebrated achieving an MSc in Aquatic Science by posting on her LinkedIn page and commending the support received throughout her Postgraduate studies:

“I am eternally grateful to the Environment Agency who made this research possible, and to my friends and family for their love and continued support. Thank you, UCL for a fantastic academic year!”