Case study:Love Your River Telford

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Location: 52° 40' 42", -2° 26' 43"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Monitoring, Social benefits, Water quality, Urban
Country England
Main contact forename Guy
Main contact surname Pluckwell
Main contact user ID User:Love Your River Telford
Contact organisation Environment Agency
Contact organisation web site http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency
Partner organisations Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Telford & Wrekin Council
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
projects
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Project summary

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Executive summary The Love Your River Telford project is a holistic, all inclusive, partnership approach, addressing urban pollution with the aim of improving water quality and habitat around the watercourses of Telford while at the same time improving protection of downstream potable drinking water supply abstractions.

Initial funding was secured and the first year of the project ran from 1st April 2014 until 31 March 2015. There have been many achievements in the first year of the project detailed in this report.

Through bringing together organisations with similar aspirations and working with, volunteers, schools, business, and the local community a large number of benefits for both the environment and the whole community were realised. Watercourses have already shown some signs of improvement earlier than expected.

In addition to the benefits mentioned above large financial savings were also achieved for a number of participating organisations through the unique, efficient and proactive approach. This includes a potential saving well in excess of £1M for Severn Trent Water. Details of these figures and how they are calculated are found in this report.

There has been much interest in the project from the media and other organisations. A BBC radio miniseries was completed on the project, there is a blog on the .GOV.UK website and there has been a lot of interest on social media. The project will also be highlighted at an international conference in Ireland in November 2015 as an example of best practice. All of this attention has resulted in other towns and cities showing an interest in the model developed in Telford with Bromsgrove already implementing it in 2015.

The Environment Agency through DEFRA Grant in Aid funding has been the main contributor to this project with some partner match funding. Further funds have been secured to continue the project to 31 March 2016. This source of this funding however is expected to significantly decrease beyond March 2016 so the partners are seeking other funding sources to continue to develop what appears to be a successful approach with many benefits and one that can be shared with other towns and cities with urban pollution issues.

Introduction Love Your River Telford is a project aimed at working with and empowering the whole of the town’s community to improve water quality and the natural habitat, enhancing their own environment.

There was 4 government organisations, 4 non-government organisations, 1 water company, 1 university, 16 community groups and an industry led environmental group with 140 members all working to try and improve water quality, biodiversity and flooding in Telford, a town with a population of around 150,000 people.

As in most towns these various bodies were working generally independently of each other resulting in inefficiencies while frequently treading on each other’s toes, occasionally resulting in strained relationships.

The Love Your River Telford project decided to take the initiative, build on the foundations laid by the successful preceding Catchment Restoration Fund project and implement a bold unique approach to attempt to get all organisations to work in partnership together while including and empowering the rest of Telford’s community to work alongside us on a scale not seen anywhere else before.

Telford now has an all inclusive joined up and innovative approach where all the different parts of the community feel involved and valued and know how they can help to improve the town’s water quality, biodiversity and flooding issues. This approach has already proved to be significantly more efficient and cost effective by proactively resolving issues before they become a greater problem and by empowering communities who are already out in the town everyday to identify pollution and report it.

As well as improving water quality and habitat in the town the work has also help safeguard the highly important downstream potable abstractions against pollution.

You only need to walk around Telford to see there are problems that need resolving to improve water quality.

The Ketley Brook in Telford

The Mad Brook in Telford

There are 8 water bodies in Telford. All are failing to meet Water Framework Directive targets either partially of wholly due to urban diffuse pollution.

An all inclusive project

How we have worked to include the whole community in enhancing their own environment can be seen in detail below:

Clean Stream Team The Clean Stream Team is at the hub of the project. The team consists of 2 people, one from the Environment Agency and one from Severn Trent Water. They are supported by Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Telford & Wrekin Council. They work together on a full time basis, to proactively seek and resolve as many urban pollution issues as possible for the life of the project.

They receive further support from the other 10 stakeholders on the project steering group and importantly the whole of the rest of Telford’s community. This is achieved by:

1. Volunteer groups A network of 16 “friends of ...” volunteer groups have received 6 full day training sessions and have been supplied with sampling equipment to allow them to monitor for and identify signs of pollution to Telford’s watercourses.

Any pollution identified by the volunteer groups is fed into the Clean Stream Team to resolve

2. Local Community A project leaflet has been developed to help Telford’s residents to identify pollution, correct any of their own drainage mis-connections and informs them how to report any pollution they might identify.

Any pollution identified by the community is fed into the Clean Stream Team to resolve.

3. Business community The Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford (BESST) has been tasked by the project to develop an award scheme to recognise pollution prevention innovation. This has opened up a new line of communication with businesses in Telford. BESST’s 140 members have received information regarding pollution prevention and how to identify pollution and have teamed up with volunteer groups to help identify and address issues.

Any pollution identified by the business community is fed into the Clean Stream Team to resolve.

4. Stakeholder organisations Many of the stakeholders involved with the project have pollution reporting systems. The project creates one system where any water pollution reported is passed to the Clean Stream Team to investigate.

Any pollution reported to or identified by other organisations is fed into the Clean Stream Team to resolve.

5. Schools Shropshire Wildlife Trust worked in 10 schools in Telford either through a short session or a full 6 week River Ranger Programme to teach Telford’s children about habitat, water pollution and how to identify it and report it. Details on the innovative full 6 week programme can be found below.

Any pollution identified by the school children in Telford is fed into the Clean Stream Team to resolve.

An example of how a volunteer report triggers a Clean Stream Team response in practiice can be seen in Appendix B.

The innovative approach

During the development phase of the project all partners agreed that the project should aim towards an innovative approach. All of the partner’s ideas were subsequently gathered and the Love Your River Telford project was created.

So why is it innovative?

There are a number of elements to the project that have not been considered before, are ideas from previous projects taken a step further or have not been implemented on the scale of a town the size of Telford before (pop 100,000). These include:

1. Clean Stream Team The idea to work in partnership to resolve urban pollution came from the Operation Streamclean project in Bristol. This project took that model much further. Rather than a standalone team involving the main organisations concerned with urban pollution, this project involves all 12 organisations working on water quality in the town. It also importantly includes the whole of the town’s community making them the “4th member” of the team.

By providing the volunteer groups with training and chemical, invertebrate and aquatic plant monitoring equipment they have become an extremely valued early warning to water pollution. In addition to the Environment Agency’s routine monitoring the volunteer’s data helps us to better understand the sources of the pollution with any issues identified immediately passed to the Clean Stream Team to investigate and resolve.

Now everyone is working together with a common goal.

2. Blue Business Award Telford is lucky enough to have the Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford (BESST), a very active industry led environmental advice group with over 140 member businesses. Telford also has 3 very large industrial estates with hundreds of business based in the town. It also subsequently has a history of significant pollution incidents from these areas due to poor pollution prevention practises.

As one of the members of the project steering group, BESST have accepted the challenge of creating a new unique annual award recognising innovation in pollution prevention and water efficiency. The award is open to all businesses in Telford and creates a new positive opportunity to reach many more businesses than would usually be possible through a routine pollution prevention campaign and opens up a new forum for sharing best practice and delivering advice.

The 1st award ceremony is planned for the end of 2015.

3. SUDS incentive scheme Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) are widely thought to be the answer to addressing urban pollution, reducing flood risk and creating new habitat. They are also considered by business to rarely be cost beneficial and as such rarely adopted by businesses.

With support from Shropshire Wildlife trust through the previous Catchment Restoration Funding (CRF) Ricoh, one of the town’s largest businesses has completed feasibility studies to show that such a system can be cost beneficial by considering reduced business risk as well as reduced discharge fees.

That same CRF project secured funding for a community based rain garden SUDS located on the Mad Brook in the Stirchley area of Telford. The SUDS has already reduced flooding in that locality while removing sediment rich runoff from entering the local watercourse.

The project aims to use these exemplars to encourage SUDS in Telford and to encourage Severn Trent Water to reduce fees for businesses who discharge to surface water via an implemented SUDS scheme.

4. School Education programmes The River Rangers programme developed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust takes water quality and urban pollution school education programmes a step further.

The 6 week programme focuses on hands on learning. It uses a full water audit of the school and the construction of retro SUDS by the children in the school grounds as a unique way to help them learn about and understand the problems faced by urban watercourses.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Catchment and subcatchment



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Reasons for river restoration

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Monitoring

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