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Case studies in the Thames River Basin District

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Catchment Information

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The Thames river basin district covers over 16,200km2. It encompasses all of Greater London and extends from north Oxfordshire southwards to Surrey and from Gloucester in the west to the Thames Estuary and parts of Kent in the east. In total over 15 million people live in the Thames district with many entering daily to work or visit. In addition to Greater London, other urban centres in the river basin district include Luton, Reading and Guildford. The Thames river basin district has a rich diversity of wildlife and habitats, supporting many species of global and national importance from chalk streams such as the River Kennet to the Thames Estuary and salt marshes. The management catchments that make up the river basin district include many interconnected rivers, lakes, groundwater, estuarine and coastal waters. These catchments range from chalk streams and aquifers to tidal and coastal marshes. The river basin district is mostly rural to the west and very urban to the east where it is dominated by Greater London. Around 17% of the river basin district is urbanised and the rural land is mainly arable, grassland and woodland. The economy is dominated by Greater London and the finance sector.

http://environment.data.gov.uk/catchment-planning/RiverBasinDistrict/6/Summary


Supplementary Information

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Measures in the Cherwell catchment

Catchment partnerships: The Cherwell and Ray catchment partnership is hosted by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) and consists of the Environment Agency, Natural England, Cherwell District Council, Banbury Town Council, Thames Water, the RSPB, Upper Thames Fisheries Consultative, and the National Farmers' Union (NFU). The priority river basin management issues to tackle in this catchment, affecting both surface water and groundwater, are diffuse pollution from agricultural run-off, pollution from waste-water (including from sewage treatment works) and heavily modified channels. Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021

  • Cherwell: A project focusing on restoring a more natural river channel and fish passage through Spiceball Country Park in Banbury, a well-used public amenity, will result in improvements in the status of fish, invertebrates, macrophytes and sediment in the River Cherwell by 2021. It will also engage with local communities to raise awareness about sustainability, water quality and biodiversity.
  • Oxon Ray: A project to implement measures described following a walkover survey will reduce diffuse pollution and sediment input from agriculture.

Future aims With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding. Additional measures with £100,000 per year:

  • Cherwell: Action on the River Cherwell to create more backwaters between Banbury and Oxford, involving landowners, BBOWT and community groups. This will re-naturalise the river corridor, attenuate water flow and provide habitat for fish and invertebrate species. (If £100,000, one backwater; if more funding available then more sites will become possible).
  • Oxon Ray: Initiate landowner engagement and advisory programme similar to Catchment Sensitive Farming in the Ray catchment. This will reduce agricultural diffuse pollution and increase resilience to flooding events.
  • Cherwell: Action on River Cherwell to monitor and quantify abstraction issues with the Oxford Canal.

Additional measures with £1 million per year (as above plus the following):

  • Cherwell: Major infiltration project in the catchment, with involvement of Thames Water and the NFU, involving landscape interventions designed to increase surface water infiltration, increase water storage capacity and attenuate overland flow during peak rainfall events (with potential benefits for flood alleviation). This will help to resolve rural diffuse pollution and phosphate failures.
  • Oxon Ray: Major flood plain meadow restoration projects along the River Ray, re-connecting the flood plain and re-instating natural river features and riparian habitat. This will improve water quality and nutrient cycling, increase habitat for fish and invertebrates, provide ecosystem services and benefits for leisure, education and public access.


Measures in the Colne catchment

Catchment partnership: The Colne Catchment Action Network (ColneCAN) core group includes Affinity Water, Thames Water, Colne Valley Fisheries Consultative, Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, Hertfordshire County Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, Chilterns Conservation Board, Colne Valley Park, River Chess Association and the Environment Agency. The ColneCAN is working with many others to address the challenges in the catchment, an area of serious water stress and significant growth demands. Priority issues include changes to natural level and flow of water, pollution from waste water, transport infrastructure and rural areas, and the extent of physical modifications such as weirs and concrete channels.

Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021

To support ambitious abstraction reductions, Affinity Water will invest over £2,000,000 to improve river morphology and habitat, and undertake other improvements with local people and landowners. The work, together with Environment Agency investment of £190,000 in 2015/16 (raised from abstraction licence fees), will improve river function and resilience, which will secure public benefits and contribute to improved status of the Misbourne, Ver and Gade chalk rivers in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

With a £10,000 contribution from the Box Moor Trust (the riparian landowner), the partnership is supporting a £54,000 project to restore and enhance flood plain connectivity and river function of a 1km stretch of the river Bulbourne in Hertfordshire.

Future aims

With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines the projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding.

Additional measures with £100,000 per year:

  • Devise and implement phase 2 of the river Bulbourne restoration project to achieve a further 1km of improved water body.
  • Support a programme to produce or update flood modelling for priority water bodies in the catchment, in order to support and facilitate decision making for river restoration projects.
  • Establish a new programme, 'Weir today Gone tomorrow' to focus on removal or adaptation of modifications. Addressing a minimum of 3 barriers per year and opening up a minimum of 2km of impacted river per year to contribute to status/element level improvements.

Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):

  • Lead ‘Catching the Colne’, a programme to increase engagement and enjoyment of key sites along the Colne Valley, (River Colne and tributaries) improve access for local communities, and implement a minimum of 10km of river and riparian improvement per year.
  • Establish and co-lead a national chalk streams restoration and stewardship programme to build capability, encourage support and secure funding for additional improvements to UK chalk streams. Establish a chalk streams discovery centre on the River Chess to showcase and celebrate the water environment, and to secure interest and commitment towards chalk stream stewardship and improvement.

Further information on the partnership is available at: http://www.colnecan.org.uk/.

Measures in the Cotswold catchment

Catchment partnerships: Evenlode – hosted by Wild Oxfordshire with a group that includes the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Forestry Commission, West Oxfordshire District Council, Atkins, The Cotswolds Fly Fishers, Cotswolds Rivers Trust, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT), Wychwood Project, Oxford University and the Sylva Foundation.

Windrush – hosted by BBOWT and consists of a similar mix of statutory organisations, non-government organisations, councils and local interest groups such as the Evenlode. The priority river basin management issues to tackle in both catchments, affecting both surface water and groundwater, are diffuse pollution from agricultural run-off, point source pollution and poor habitat.

Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021

  • Evenlode - tackling rural diffuse pollution and impoundments to improve the status of fish, sediments and phosphate in the River Glyme. Engage in community-based actions to benefit water quality and biodiversity. 25% of the £100,000 project fund comes from government grant in aid. A Payment for Ecosystem Services scheme is being developed for a landscape-scale infiltration project.

 Windrush - preventing rural diffuse pollution at source (for example, cattle poaching) and repairing associated bankside damage in the upper catchment will result in improvements in the status of fish, sediments and phosphate. A landscape-scale flood plain recovery project and a wetland creation project are being developed. Future aims

With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding. Additional measures with £100,000 per year:

  • Evenlode - to mitigate remaining impoundments and re-naturalise the Glyme from Stratford Bridge to Glympton involving the local authority, landowners and community groups. This will join up restored areas and tackle rural diffuse pollution.
  • Evenlode - address barriers to fish passage and create in-channel habitat enhancements at Charlbury. This will help resolve failures in fish, invertebrate and macrophyte populations and improve amenity and recreational value.
  • Windrush - a fish passage and wetland creation project at the confluence of Great Brook and Thames; this will create a backwater refuge for fish and invertebrates and provide some additional flood storage capacity.
  • Windrush - further action to address rural diffuse pollution and channel damage.

Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):

  • Evenlode - infiltration project, involving strategic woodland planting and other landscape interventions to attenuate overland flow during peak rainfall events (with potential benefits for flood alleviation and climate change resilience). It will tackle rural diffuse pollution and phosphate failures, and contribute to Biodiversity 2020 targets. It is part of a wider partnership project across the Upper Thames tributaries.
  • Windrush - major project to restore degraded ecosystems along the flood plain of the Thames from source to Oxford. It would target connectivity of riparian and aquatic habitats and contribute to improving flood management, water quality, soil quality and recreation. It would seek to establish more integrated environmental governance across the Upper Thames and promote further academic research.

Further information on the Windrush partnership is available at: mailto:info@bbowt.org.uk and for the Evenlode: mailto:hilary@wildoxfordshire.org.uk.

Measures in the Darent catchment Catchment partnership The Darent and Cray are co-hosted by the North West Kent Countryside Partnership (NWKCP) and the South East Rivers Trust (SERT). There are 2 Catchment Improvement Partnerships, one for the Darent and one for the Cray. Members of these include, Dartford Borough Council, Sevenoaks District Council, the London Boroughs of Bexley and Bromley, Westerham Town Council, Farningham Parish Council, Kent Wildlife Trust, Thames21, the Environment Agency, Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, the National Farmers' Union, Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Darent River Preservation Society, Dartford and District Angling Preservation Society, Kent Fisheries Consultative Association, Darent Valley Consortium, Darent and Cray Valley Catchment Consultative, West Kent Cycle Touring Club, the Darent Valley Trout Fishery, the Kent Fisheries Consultative Association and the Darent and Cray Catchment Consultative. The priority issues identified in the catchment are diffuse pollution, improve modified physical habitats, and invasive non-native species (INNS). Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021

 Thames21 River Keeper team will continue to provide community engagement and educational activities, which raise awareness of the importance of the Cray, its habitats and ecology. They will deliver habitat improvements within the river. Thames21 provides over £30,000 to the catchment per year.

 NWKCP and SERT are working together on a £41,000 project to improve fish passage on the upper Darent. The creation of a bypass channel around a large structure will reconnect over 1.5km of the river near Sundridge.

 Angling clubs will continue to provide habitat improvements to the river and lakes. Projects include reduction of shading, creation of low flow channels, pool and riffle features, artificial margins, and monitoring of invertebrates and water levels within the river. This voluntary work contributes over £20,000 to the catchment each year. Future aims

With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding. Additional measures with £100,000 per year:  Expansion of the INNS control programme focusing on both flora and fauna. Increasing the survey areas, treatments, provide training and develop a volunteer surveyor programme and providing an awareness raising campaign.  Development of Ecosystems Services projects to improve aquifer recharge.  Investigation and project development to reduce impacts of physical modifications such as the weirs at Hawley and Hall Place. Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):  Improve opportunities for fish passage on large structures in the river and provision of extensive channel restoration.  Implement the Marlborough Park Master Plan, which includes reinstating meanders of the River Shuttle, re-profiling of the river banks and removal of hard engineering.  Reconnection of flood plain meadows to the river at Eynsford, working with local landowners to develop traditional grazing regimes and habitat management for the benefit of local wildlife and communities. Further information on the partnership is available at: www.nwkcp.org/darent-and-cray-catchments. Proposed update to Thames river basin management plan 5 Measures in the Gloucestershire and the Vale catchment Catchment partnerships: Upper Thames: The partnership is hosted by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group and includes the Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) and a broad and inclusive partnership made up of 210 members covering public, private and third sector organisations with an interest in the catchment. Ock: The partnership is hosted by the Freshwater Habitats Trust and includes the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Vale of White Horse District Council, Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, Abingdon Naturalist Society, Ock Valley Flood Group, South Abingdon Flood Action Group, Upper Thames Fisheries Consultative, Oxford University and 3 independent expert ecologists. The priority river basin management issues to tackle in both catchments, affecting both surface water and groundwater, are rural diffuse pollution, point source pollution and poor habitat. Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021  Upper Thames: The Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD - http://www.fwagsw.org.uk/what-we-do/projects/) project works with local communities, farmers and environmental groups to improve water quality, reduce flood risk and enhance biodiversity.  Ock: An in-channel, riparian and flood plain restoration project to improve the status of invertebrates in the Sandford Brook by 2021. Located in the town of Abingdon, it will also increase public access, provide recreational benefits and engage the local community to take ownership of their water environment through environmental monitoring and practical river and flood plain restoration days. Future aims With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding. Additional measures with £100,000 per year:  Upper Thames: To continue to roll out the implementation of the Community Guide to the Water Environment (http://www.acre.org.uk/cms/resources/comm-guides/communityguidewater.pdf) to engage land managers and communities in delivering integrated water management, increase resilience and deliver multiple benefits for the water environment, improving water quality and reducing flood risk.  Ock: Engage landowners to adjust land management through land use models to reduce flood risk, diffuse pollution, taking into account the effect of sewage treatment work (STW) improvements. Take an upstream to downstream approach and protect and build out from the freshwater, standing water and wetland ‘hot-spot’ locations. Additional measures with £1000,000 per year (as above plus the following):  Upper Thames: To test and implement innovative solutions to pollution from STW and land management in order to reduce the impact of rural diffuse pollution and point source pollution. Prioritising coordinated action to enhance river habitats and increase the natural resilience (for example, non-native invasive species) across the whole river system.  Ock: Extend downstream existing river ‘hot-spot’ sections, create water quality buffers around key freshwater and wetland sites, build out from protected grassland habitats (for example, Thames flood plain), implement measures for species of conservation concern and install clean water ponds and wetlands across the catchment. Further information on the partnership is available at: Upper Thames: http://www.fwagsw.org.uk/what-we-do/projects/esters-page/ Ock: http://www.freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/

Measures in the Kennet catchment Catchment partnership: The Kennet catchment partnership is hosted by Action for the River Kennet and includes representatives from the local community, Atkins, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Environment Agency, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, the Kennet and Pang Fishery Action Plan Stakeholder Group, Kennet Valley Fishery Association, Natural England (NE), Reading and District Angling Association, Thames Water and West Berkshire District Council. The priority river basin management issues to tackle in this catchment are interrelated and are nutrients, sediments and algal growth; channel modification and degradation of habitats; and pressures from abstractions within the catchment.

Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021  Significant habitat restoration and fish passage projects are underway and planned in the Middle Kennet and Lambourn. These will improve fish populations and improve hydromorphology by reducing the impact of impoundments. Funded by combination of the Environment Agency, NE and private funds.

 *Small scale restoration projects in the middle and lower Kennet with volunteer input are joining the gaps between significant scale habitat restoration works.

 *Projects working with farmers to reduce nitrate and phosphate pollution are underway and planned in the Middle Kennet and tributaries with funding from NE and the Environment Agency bolstered by additional funding and ‘in kind’ assistance from partners.

 *Public outreach projects (for example, Yellow Fish and ‘You poo too’) to reduce pollution from sewers and roads are underway for the entire catchment.

 *Water efficiency projects ‘Care for the Kennet’ are helping households to use less water in the Upper and Middle Kennet.  *A cross catchment partnership project, funded by Defra, will improve understanding of the impact of septic tanks and develop ways to reduce pollution from them.  *Urban habitat restoration and fish easements to address low fish populations are planned for the Lower Kennet.  *Continue to work with Thames Water on abstraction issues in the Kennet, including the construction of pipeline from Axford to Swindon to be completed in 2016.

Future aims With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding.

Additional measures with £100,000 per year:  *complete the Upper Kennet Habitat Restoration Plan projects  *implement a Lower Kennet Habitat Restoration plan to bring the poorest water bodies to good status by resolving failures in fish, invertebrate and plant populations and improving amenity and recreational value  *improve understanding of the relationship between water quality and algal growth and implement a plan to reduce the problems of algae and its impact on plants  *agree a strategy for resolving the issue of the interaction between the Kennet and Avon canal and the River Kennet Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):  *improve water quality in Kennet and Avon canal to reduce its impact on the river  *take actions to improve treated waste water from small point source inputs  *review water management in the upper Kennet and improve water efficiency

For current information on the Kennet catchment partnership contact ARK: mailto:info@riverkennet.org and see the partnership website: www.kennetcatchment.org

Measures in the Loddon catchment Catchment partnership(s): The Loddon catchment partnership is formed of a steering group made up of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, the Loddon Fisheries and Conservation Consultative, the Loddon Basin Flood Action Group, Affinity Water (also representing Thames Water and South East Water), Natural England, Hampshire County Council, Wokingham Borough Council, the National Farmers' Union, Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and the University of Reading. The priority river basin management issues to tackle in this catchment are:  *habitat and biodiversity, including channel structure and function, barriers to fish passage, habitat management and flood plain connectivity  *water quality. in particular phosphorus, sediment and pesticides  *water quantity (flooding and abstraction)

Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021  *The Loddon Farm Advice Project focuses on rural diffuse pollution across the catchment. The project aims to improve the status of phosphate and fish in 3 water bodies by 2021 as well as reducing the impacts of pesticides on public drinking water abstractions. Currently 80% of the funding comes from government grant although alternative funding streams are being investigated. The cost of the measures will be in the region of £200,000 over 6 years.  *Several projects currently in place include action to reduce the impact of invasive non-native species, raising awareness of riparian habitat management with landowners and holding an annual ‘Rivers Week’ to increase engagement with the public.  *The Loddon catchment partnership is also involved in a joint project with other nearby partnerships to raise awareness of the issues of phosphorus from domestic waste water inputs and to address problems associated with septic tanks and misconnections contributing to algal blooms in the rivers.

Future aims With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding.

Additional measures with £100,000 per year:

  • carry out a River Whitewater structures and habitat improvement project to improve the status for fish in the River Whitewater
  • increase the scope of the Loddon Farm Advice Project to address rural diffuse pollution across the catchment to help protect public drinking water abstractions
  • work with the Loddon Basin Flood Action Group to develop flood mitigation projects that also deliver river basin management objectives
  • influence and encourage sustainable development for the water environment to aid climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • engage with communities to take ownership of their local water environment and provide education and training opportunities.

Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):

  • Return water corridors in the Loddon catchment to a near natural state providing social, flood risk mitigation and biodiversity action plan habitat benefits.
  • Identify and reduce pollution in water bodies across the catchment, with the University of Reading developing tools for evaluation and planning. These will be used in the Loddon catchment and could also be made available for use in other catchments.

Further information on the partnership please email: mailto:Loddon.Catchment@hiwwt.org.uk

Measures in the London – Beverley Brook catchment

Catchment partnership The Beverley Brook Catchment Partnership is hosted by the South East Rivers Trust. The Steering Group is made up of the Environment Agency, The Royal Parks, Wimbledon Common Conservators, Friends of Barnes Common, London Boroughs of Richmond, Wandsworth, Sutton and Merton, Royal Borough of Kingston, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Thames21, London Wildlife Trust and Thames Water.

The priority river basin management issues to tackle in this catchment are:

  • poor water quality due to diffuse pollution from road run-off and misconnected pipes
  • high phosphate levels originating from effluent from the sewage treatment works
  • physical modifications that have been made to the river leading to a uniform channel with poor hydromorphological and habitat diversity

Contribution to environmental outcomes for 2021

A project to enhance the Beverley Brook through Richmond Park has been funded by the Environment Agency’s Environment Programme, the Catchment Partnership Action Fund, Friends of Richmond Park and other sources. This project will enhance river habitat throughout the park with the creation of a backwater, bank softening, 500m of in-channel improvements and measures to control the impacts from deer and dogs. The project also aims to improve water quality by working on outfalls to reduce silt and other contaminants entering the river.

Future aims

With additional funding even more could be achieved. The following outlines projects and outcomes that could be realised with additional partnership funding. Additional measures with £100,000 per year:

  • Habitat and hydromorphological enhancements throughout the Beverley Brook and its tributaries to support fish, plant and invertebrate populations as well as enhance natural processes and ecosystem resilience. Measures include removal of redundant bank reinforcements, bank softening, tree management, installation of woody material, backwater creation and reconnection with the flood plain. Key locations include Barnes Common, Vine Road Recreation Ground, Leaders Gardens, Palewell Common, Richmond Park (additional to the above), Wimbledon Common, Malden Park Golf Course, Beverley Park, Worcester Park, and Morden Cemetery as well as Motspur Park and Morden Park on the Pyl Brook tributary.
  • Locally targeted campaigns to raise awareness among domestic properties and businesses about misconnections, only flushing water down sinks and drains, and promoting water efficiency measures.

Additional measures with £1,000,000 per year (as above plus the following):

  • Retrofitting of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and other water management measures throughout the catchment to improve water quality and reduce the flashy nature of the river due to high volumes of run-off.
  • Control and reduce road run-off through the installation of sediment interceptors, such as hydrodynamic vortex chambers, on all surface water drains.

 Full river restoration through Richmond Park, Beverley Park and Barnes Common.  Fish passage enhancement at Horne Way Weir through full removal with re-routing the sewer pipe or low flow fish passage enhancement measures. Further information on the partnership is available at: The South East Rivers Trust (SERT)



Additional links and references

Link Description
http://www.gov.uk/government/collections/river-basin-management-plans Information about river basin districts, catchments, water bodies and the river basin management planning process


http://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/wfd/draft_plans/consult This consultation is now closed - This was the third and final of three consultations, inviting comment on draft updates to river basin management plans to protect and improve the water environment

Link back to the main England country page: England

Link back to the main England background information: Country info:England - background information