Restoring Surrey’s Rivers
River rehabilitation is currently being driven by the Water Framework Directive which was enacted into UK law by: The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2003 for England and Wales. This legislation establishes a framework for the protection of groundwater, inland surface, estuarine (transitional), and coastal waters.
The Catchment-Based Approach (CaBA) is a community-led approach that engages people and groups from across society to help improve our precious water environments. CaBA Partnerships are now actively working in 100+ catchments across England and Wales.
A Brief History of Catchment Partnerships In Surrey
In September 2011, DEFRA and the Environment Agency invited submissions of interest to host a partnered approach to catchment-wide delivery of objectives required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD), in a series of 15 ‘pilot’ catchments across England. These were to join the 10 Environment Agency-led catchments already selected as pilots of the Catchment-Based (CaBa) approach, earlier that year (2011).
Surrey Wildlife Trust submitted its interest to lead for the Wey catchment, on behalf of an existing Wey Valley Landscape Partnership and was notified of its successful selection from some 40 candidates in early November. In 2012 SWT set up the River Mole Catchment Partnership (RMCP) and was joined as host by the South East Rivers Trust (SERT) in 2016. Both Partnerships began with 3 local workshops in order to introduce the WFD and Catchment Working and to gather ideas for action. The results were capture on Project Register which forms the basis for action for the partnerships’ Catchment Plans.
SERT also host the Medway Catchment Partnership, of which Surrey Wildlife Trust are an active member
Since their conception, the Catchment Partnerships have delivered a number of River Restoration and Water Quality Improvement Projects including:
- Chertsey Meads Fish Refuge Restoration (Wey)
- Community River Restoration Projects at Alton, Farnham, Oakhanger and Blackwater (Wey)
- Diffuse Pollution Advice Workshops with key business sectors in the catchment (Golf Courses, Leisure and Equestrian).
- St Georges College, Chertsey River Restoration (Wey)
- Rye To Good (Mole)
- Pipp Brook Restoration Project (Mole)
- RiverSearch Citizen Science Project (Throughout)
Funding to date has been primarily through EA Grant-In-Aid, although investment from businesses has been forthcoming including support for the Cranleigh Waters Community River restoration project from Thames Water, and for the RiverSearch initiative from SAB Miller and the Affinity Water Community Fund. The hosting functions provided by SWT has been enabled through annual Catchment Partnership Funding from the Environment Agency.
Detailed draft Catchment Plans, including Project Registers for the Wey and Mole set out the Partnerships’ vision for restoring Surrey’s rivers for people and wildlife. The plans are designed to be adaptive, to be updated in response to completed projects and new data from ongoing monitoring.
Draft Catchment Plans are currently under consultation, with the aim of delivering a 6 Year Work Program to deliver a healthier, more resilient rivers network in Surrey. Recognising the valuable services to society provided by water and wetlands including clean water, flood mitigation, carbon storage and recreation and amenity, Partnerships aim to seek investment from public and private sectors to help maintain and enhance rivers so they continue to deliver benefits into the future.