Case study:Stroud Rural Sustainable Drainage Project

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Location: 51° 44' 45", -2° 13' 4"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Land use management - forestry, Social benefits
Country England
Main contact forename Chris
Main contact surname Uttley
Main contact user ID User:Stroud RSuDS
Contact organisation Stroud District Council
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Stroud District Council, Environment Agency, Community Groups, private landowners, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Gloucestershire County Council, National Trust, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Severn Rivers Trust, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)
Parent multi-site project

Stroud Rural Sustainable Drainage Project

This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Large woody debris in Painswick stream - Beech tree trunk to attenuate flows and create diverse in-stream habitat

Project summary

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In 2012, the Environment Agency commissioned a report into the feasibility and potential benefits of implementing Natural Flood Management (also called Rural Sustainable Drainage) (RSuDS) throughout the catchment of the Stroud Frome and associated tributaries.

Acting on the findings of the study, the Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC) agreed to fund a project officer to implement and promote rural sustainable drainage and natural flood management in the whole catchment, which covers approx. 235km2. A formal partnership between Gloucestershire County Council, The Environment Agency, the RFCC and Stroud District Council was established to implement the work, and under a collaborative agreement, Stroud District Council agreed to employ the project officer for three years.

The project is working with a large number of private and third sector land owners to implement a wide variety of techniques to slow flood flows, reduce erosion of soils, and restore in-stream and flood plain natural processes. We are creating a large number of leaky woody debris structures located in a variety of settings to catalyse in-stream habitat restoration, slow down the transport of silt and sediment, raise bed levels in deeply incised channels, create diverse habitats, attenuate higher flows and force flows out of channel.

In addition, we are working with woodland and agricultural land owners to put in place measures to reduce soil erosion, store overland flows and increase infiltration.

We are working in small streams, spring flows and drainage gulleys to intervene at the very top of the catchment, with a view to working our way downstream and allowing downstream areas a better chance to restore themselves. We predominantly work on Ordinary Water Courses where impacts such as dredging, channelisation and diffuse pollution are acute. As work progresses, we are finding and recording previously un-recorded habitat features of international importance, including Alkaline tufa petrifying spring habitats in both woodland and grassland context.

To implement the approach and achieve real reductions in flood risk and improvements to habitat we are working in full partnership with communities, flood actions groups, partners, land managers and farmers. We involve members of Flood Action Groups in determining priorities for future work.

Monitoring surveys and results

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None to date

Lessons learnt

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We have learned a number of lessons: 1. Importance of Bottom up approach and community support for Natural Flood Management. It is impossible to undertake this work on the scale needed to make a difference to both natural processes or flood risk if widespread community support is not given. 2. We think it is important to start work quickly to create momentum and inspire communities that the approach is feasible rather than theoretical. 3. Even small interventions can make a difference quickly in a degraded stream system, creating habitat complexity, refugia, and allowing light into a heavily shaded area. 4. Use local contractors to increase buy-in and capacity for undertaking works. 5. Start at the most upstream location feasible and work your way downstream. Working on smaller water courses has less risk and less requirement for modelling and feasibility work.

Image gallery


Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Severn
River basin Severn Vale


River name Slad Bk - source to conf Painswick Str
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 200 - 500 m
Maximum altitude (m) 266
266 m
0.266 km
26,600 cm
Dominant geology Calcareous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Improved grassland
Waterbody ID GB109054032440


WFD water body codes
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 Yes
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
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) 6000
6,000 m
6 km
600,000 cm
Project started 2014/04/28
Works started 2014/11/17
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category more than 10000 k€
Total cost (k€)
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources Regional flood and coastal committee

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 more than 10000 k€ Stroud District Council Chris Uttley
Post-project management and maintenance

Supplementary funding information

Revenue project funding is provided by the Severn and Wye Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. Capital funding is supplied by Gloucestershire County Council, the Environment Agency and Stroud District Council.

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure
Hydromorphology Incision, Channel pattern/planform, Substrate conditions
Physico-chemical Diffuse pollution
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Introducing large woody debris
Floodplain / River corridor Creation of natural floodwater dynamics, Increase water retention area
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Fencing, More natural water retention, Reduce diffuse water pollution and over-grazing
Social measures (incl. engagement) Community involvement


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 A film of the project

Supplementary Information

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