Case study:River Rea Restoration Project

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Location: 52° 27' 7", -2° 24' 18"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Economic aspects, Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Social benefits, Water quality
Country England
Main contact forename Emma
Main contact surname Buckingham
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Severn Rivers Trust
Contact organisation web site http://severnriverstrust.com/
Partner organisations
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
projects
No
Project Area

Project summary

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Many watercourses within the River Rea Catchment are failing to meet the required standards under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) due to failing fish numbers. The River Rea has long been known as a catchment in serious decline as a result of sedimentation, poor agricultural practices and fish migration barriers. The Severn Rivers Trust walkover surveys of the River Rea, confirmed that suspended sediment load is seen to be impacting on the ecological health of the river and a major cause of fish failure. Impacts such as agricultural run-off from fields and bank erosion caused by farm animals are major contributors to an excessive quantity of sediment entering the river system. Also good riparian habitats are in decline due to over shading and over mature and diseased alders dying and falling into the river causing excessive blockages and bank erosion scars.

Planned outcommes

  • Reduced agricultural run-off - reduced the in-stream sedimentation and fertiliser contamination, improved farming practices
  • Improved biodiversity – improved in-stream habitats, re-established fish populations, improved invertebrate biodiversity, and control invasive species.
  • Improved river water quality - reduced diffuse and point source pollution. Work towards achieving GES.
  • Improved fish migration - removed un-necessary weirs, re-established spawning grounds.
  • Reduced lateral river erosion and poaching - installed revetments, reduce poaching by reducing livestock access to watercourses.
  • Improved flow regime – Reduced abstraction and or augmentation, plus wetland creation.
  • Social - improved environment for recreation, promote interest and local community involvement in river restoration and healthy environment.
  • Economic - improved fisheries, introduced farmers to the 'Passport Scheme', reduced farmer’s expenditure on fertilisers, pesticides, fuel and top soil replacement.
  • Flood Defence – Create wetlands and wet woodlands and reduce sediment to mitigate flood risk. Raise flood risk awareness.

The River Rea restoration Project is a partnership project that will use CRF funds to improve watercourses in areas of the Rea Catchment that are affected by sedimentation, diffuse pollution, degraded habitat and obstructions to fish passage. The restoration project on the Rea will help to remediate these issues, by working with farmers to encourage the installation of cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives. These include coppicing of riparian habitats, designating buffer strips between the fields and rivers and fencing and re-establishing eroded banks. The Severn Rivers Trust aims to improve the habitat and connectivity in order to encourage a sustainable return to natural river processes and reduce diffuse pollution from farmland to ensure that the failing water bodies achieve Good Ecological Status under the WFD.

Through restoration work, the project will address issues including:

  • Sediment which has a direct adverse effect on water quality
  • Barriers to fish migration, preventing fish from reaching habitat that they should be present in
  • Interrupted natural downstream movement of substrate which reduces spawning habitat for salmonids
  • Poor in-channel and riparian habitat for riverine species

Community engagement is essential to the long term success of the project as it encourages local ownership and support. It is seen as an integral part of an integrated catchment management approach.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Lessons learnt

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Image gallery


River Rea Restoration Project Area
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Catchment and subcatchment



Site

Name River Rea Catchment
WFD water body codes GB109054044820
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use Intensive agriculture (arable)
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)


Project background

Reach length directly affected (m)
Project started
Works started
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category 1000 - 5000 k€
Total cost (k€) 1084,657
1,084,657 k€
1,084,657,000 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance
Monitoring



Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Agriculture, Barriers to fish migration
Hydromorphology Continuity for organisms, Substrate conditions
Biology Fish
Physico-chemical
Other reasons for the project


Measures

Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Bank improvement
Floodplain / River corridor Barrier removal
Planform / Channel pattern
Other
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Riparian Management to increase the amount of light getting through the canopy, promote natural re-growth of bankside plants and increase levels of bank stability and stabilise the spread of Phytophthora amongst the Alders, reducing bank side collapse (another main source of sediment)
Social measures (incl. engagement)
Other Integrated catchment management approach, Community engagement, Local support


Monitoring

Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative


Monitoring documents




Additional documents and videos


Additional links and references

Link Description
http://severnriverstrust.com/ The Severn Rivers Trust is an independent environmental charity established to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of the rivers, streams, watercourses and water bodies in the Severn catchment, and to advance the education of the public in the management of water and the wider environment.
http://www.riverrea.com/ The aim of the Rea Catchment Partnership is to restore, protect and sustain a healthy river system within the Rea Catchment.

Supplementary Information

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Description of Works In order that we solve the problems in the Rea catchment, the River Rea Restoration aims to advise and assist farmers and land owners in applying the correct and relevant practices and tackle the issues by delivering the following measures:

  • Fencing - where agricultural practices have been identified to be causing the watercourse to fail to meet WFD standards, riparian fencing and associated drinking points will result in multiple benefits. The poaching of riverbanks by livestock will be reduced,as will the associated excess sediment inputs. Vegetation will become re-established along the riverbanks, therefore increasing riparian habitat and biodiversity. This will result in the establishment of a buffer zone that will reduce the amount of nutr ient runoff that enters the watercourse from farmland and roads.
  • Reconnecting habitat - where an obstruction to fish passage exists within the river channel, the project will look to remove it, or at the very least, make it passable. This will not only open up more habitat to migratory fish, but where removal occurs it will

also return the sediment movement to a more natural regime.

  • Riparian Management – Bankside trees that have not been cut or coppiced for several years and have been allowed to grow up can shade riverbanks, restricting sunlight to under-storey vegetation and result in bare ground under the trees which is then

susceptible to erosion. The aim is to increase the amount of light getting through the canopy, promote natural re-growth of bankside plants and increase levels of bank stability and stabilise the spread of Phytophthora amongst the Alders, reducing bank side collapse (another main source of sediment).

  • Community engagement - this is essential to the long term success of the project as it encourages local ownership and support. It is seen as an integral part of an integrated catchment management approach. We will increase and improve community engagement and establish a sense of ownership and responsibility of their rivers through active groups for future improvements and monitoring.

What will success look like? As a charitable organisation, the Severn Rivers Trust want to work with farmers, landowners and other associated partner organisations to ensure that our priorities are aligned in order to achieve land management solutions that benefit both people and the environment. Through education, we hope that farmers and landowners will take ownership of the issues affecting their watercourses, ensuring that they understand their direct and indirect dependence on these natural resources and the services they provide. Our principal aim is to see watercourses in the Rea area achieve Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive. This will mean a return to natural flow regimes, improved water quality, increased riverine habitat and reconnected habitat, ultimately resulting in a better river environment that can sustain greater biodiversity.