Case study:Wye Herefordshire Improvement Project

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Location: 52° 8' 2", -2° 57' 51"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Economic aspects, Environmental flows and water resources, Fisheries, Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Land use management - agriculture, Spatial planning, Water quality
Country England
Main contact forename Simon
Main contact surname Evans
Main contact user ID User:Simon Evans
Contact organisation Wye & Usk Foundation
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
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Project summary

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WHIP is a £1.6m project working with 400 farmers across Western Herefordshire to reduce the impact of agriculture on the Wye catchment. Using a bottom up approach, the project starts with the ecology of the rivers and then works with the farmers individually to identify the causes and adapt the management that is causing WFD failure. The project operates on a free and confidential basis, bringing farmers together into groups according to the catchment they are in and annually reviewing progress and monitoring results. This way we transfer 'ownership' of the project to the farmers. We commonly achieve over 95% engagement of the agricultural community in each water body.

The principle issues we are seeking to correct are - Excessive loss of top soil to watercourses. - Excessive loss of phosphate to watercourses. - Pesticide contamination of water. - Excessive overland flow. - Degraded riparian habitat. - Barriers to fish access.

The project delivers land use change by developing pragmatic and effective solutions with the farmers and agri-businesses on a farm by farm basis and delivering them. Fencing works and farm infrastructure works are supported with a delegated grant pool (50% of cost for fencing, up to £15,000 at max 50% for farm infrastructure). In combination we are achieving measurable improvements on a waterbody and catchment scale.

We have developed and adapted Durham University's computer model SCIMAP to create a practical and effective tool that both engages farmers and allows works to be effectively targeted on both a field and subcatchment level.

After a decade of WUF action removing/alleviating obstructions to fish migration in the Wye catchment the last few are being addressed in this project.

Monitoring surveys and results

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The project is monitoring its progress against the project targets and its effects on the water courses.

Progress to 31st March 2014. Whole project targets in brackets. 223 farmers engaged (400) 176 whole farm plans completed (320) 49 farm infrastructure projects completed (150) 11.7km of riparian fencing erected with alternative stock watering (75km)

The ecological monitoring is in addition to the existing WFD monitoring conducted the EA. Full results are available from the Wye and Usk Foundation.

Headlines - Measurable improvements in phytobenthos communities in catchments with over 80% landowner engagement - 4 water bodies lifted to high status for fish. - Widest ever distribution of Atlantic salmon in Herefordshire was recorded in 2013. Salmon found in Curl and Humber: 2 waterbodies previously too 'silty' to support salmonid spawning.

Lessons learnt

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Correcting diffuse pollution is best achieved by working at the appropriate scale (farm by farm) in a catchment context. This delivers real and measurable benefits to WFD status as well as improving farm profitability.

Our revised SCIMAP is proving an invaluable tool in addressing problems of excessive overland flow and top soil loss to water.

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Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Severn
River basin Wye


River name R Arrow - source to conf Gladestry Bk
Area category 10 - 100 km²
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category 500 - 1000 m
Maximum altitude (m) 540
540 m
0.54 km
54,000 cm
Dominant geology Calcareous
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover Acid Grassland
Waterbody ID GB109055036590


WFD water body codes GB109055036590
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name R Arrow - source to conf Gladestry Bk
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
Average bankfull channel width category
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Average bankfull channel depth (m)
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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 2012/07/01
Works started
Works completed
Project completed 2015/03/01
Total cost category
Total cost (k€)
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources Defra Catchment Restoration Fund

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

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Pollution incident, Barriers to fish migration, Impoundments (not hydropower), Riparian development
Hydromorphology Channel pattern/planform
Biology Fish
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Bank reprofiling, Reduce diffuse pollution
Floodplain / River corridor Barrier removal
Planform / Channel pattern
Other UK BAP habitat creation/restoration, Non BAP habitat creation/restoration, Farm infrastructure interventions
Non-structural measures
Management interventions Fencing, Non/agricultural business changed its way of working
Social measures (incl. engagement) Community involvement
Other Economic aspects


Hydromorphological quality elements

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

Biological quality elements

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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

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Supplementary Information

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