A New Regional NFM Report
The Thames Regional Flood and Costal Committee (RFCC) has published a report on Natural Flood Management in the region with good practice case studies and a range of advice on how to fund and deliver projects. The report features many NFM projects by Rivers Trusts in the region and advice based on their experience. The report can be accessed here.
Community Water Quality Modelling Conference Showcases Potential of New Wetlands in London
It was inspiring to attend a Community Modelling Decision Makers’ Conference recently at Walthamslow Wetlands London, hearing from Thames21 and their Community Modelling Groups from the Pymmes, Ching and Salmons Brooks.
T21 have been running an innovative water quality project working with the community to find solutions to poor water quality. Our TRT Thames Restoration Fund contributed £23k to this ground breaking project, that has been a trial and has led on to a NERC funded 5 year project with UCL addressing water quality and integrated water management.
The project has empowered, motivated and brought together local people and provided evidence on the multi-benefits of SuDS such as wetlands and the places they would be best suited to deliver significant measurable water quality improvements.
The conference brought together decision makers from business, academia, and the public sector. It was great to see how much this project has achieved and the huge benefits of partnership working between different stakeholders.
Thirty four sites suitable for new constructed wetlands and SuDS (Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems) have been identified by communities in north London, working on theT21 Community Water Quality Modelling project. The sites have the potential to help clean three heavily polluted rivers. Click here to find out more.
TRT attends Rivers Festival in Columbia
TRT Deputy Chairman, Robert Oates, was invited back to Colombia in May to speak again on river restoration; this time at the Seven Rivers Festival organised by new Friends of the River groups from the seven tributaries of the River Cauca which flow through the city of Cali. These emerging Friends groups operate much like Rivers Trusts in the UK being NGOs and not for profit and run by volunteers ranging from university professors to Uber drivers. They face many of the same issues we have in the UK including pollution, canalisation and loss of biodiversity. They also have issues that we do not often face including illegal slum developments, armed criminal gangs and regular earthquakes! To read a full report click here
March 2018 – International meeting
At the request of the UK Department for International Trade, on 29 April 2018, Robert Oates, TRT Deputy Chairman met with a delegation from Taiwan led by Mr Mao-Hsui WEI, Chief Secretary of the Water Resources Department of Taoyuan Special Municipality. The meeting was kindly hosted by Mr Enrico Isnenghi, Technical Director of WSP international engineering in their London HQ. Among subjects discussed were integrated river basin management, natural flood management, water supply and pollution control measures in Thames region and in Taoyuan district.
March 2018 – The recent EA Consultation
Thank you to all of you who took the time to object to the Environment Agency’s proposal to increase charges for environmental permits. The EA received a ‘significant number’ of responses and they have issued the following statement:
‘We recognise the significant benefits that these works can contribute towards natural flood risk management, habitat creation and enhancing the water environment, and we do not want our charges to discourage such good works taking place. We have not increased charges for works that, in our view, are for the benefit of the environment and are being carried out on a non-commercial basis.’
February 2018 – We are supporting The Great British Spring Clean 2018
The Great British Spring Clean is a campaign with a simple aim: to bring people across the country together to clear up litter. UPDATE – Many events have been postponed to later in the month due to the extreme weather.
Rivers Trusts across the country including those in the Thames catchment will be part of this national event that is running 2 – 4 March.
80% of plastic in the oceans comes from land, and rivers are a significant pathway for it to get there.
Litter in our rivers and streams is not only unsightly, it can cause serious pollution as well as often causing direct injuries to the wildlife that depend on a healthy river environment.
February 2018 – Thames Water launch their Water Resources Management Plan Consultation
Thames Rivers Trust (TRT) has been represented on the TW Water Resources Forum, for both the general and technical sessions for the past 4 years. We have had ample opportunity to comment regularly on the development of the draft WRMP and the longer term plan. We will therefore not be commenting on the plan in detail.
Overall TW is to be congratulated on adopting a detailed approach to the development of its strategy utilising best practice, advanced modelling techniques, independent expertise and comprehensive stakeholder dialogue. This reflects the complex status of the Thames river basin facing unprecedented demand in the future with limited resource options.
It is therefore all the more surprising, and disappointing, that having brought along a disparate group of stakeholders to follow, and generally support, a logical development of the resources strategy, the company has made a very late in the day, apparently at Board level decision, to delay the development of a major strategic resource i.e. Abingdon Reservoir, a further decade into the future..
In its place the company has introduced some high risk demand management measures involving challenging targets for leakage and meter penetration and incentive based efficiency targets. Whilst Thames should be congratulated on adopting ambitious demand management targets there is a high risk in dependence on customer behaviour and the company does not have a successful track record in this field. Furthermore there was very little discussion on the positioning of these options in the general and technical workshops where Thames might have benefitted from stakeholder expertise.
The main problem with these high risk features is that there are no contingency plans should they fail. This means that any shortfall in the reduction in water use expected is likely to have a deleterious effect on the environment.
The delayed appearance of the proposed Abingdon Reservoir will also mean the continuation of informal planning blight for unfortunate residents, reduced ability to help regulate the main river, lack of upstream storage in the face of increased winter flooding, and reduced capability in easing the pressure on over-abstracted chalk streams. It was only last November at the Annual Stakeholder Review meeting that TW CEO Stuart Robertson told the audience that it was his passionate wish to cease abstraction from such rivers as soon as possible.
The other major concern is that of the Teddington Direct River Abstraction scheme. There appear to be several unresolved environmental issues and it seems to us that the future of this key project cannot be guaranteed.
Having been involved in the water resources strategy from the beginning of the process it is unfortunate to end on a critical note. It seems to us that Thames has admirably followed its own rigorous procedures all the way through, only to diverge at the very end. The WRMP and its longer term version are meant to be for the benefit of the customer and the environment, rather than succumbing to short term political pressures.
To view the full Thames Water WRMP click here. To give feedback to the public consultation, which closes 29th April 2018 click here.
December 2017 – TRT awards £12k to two new projects
“Our Thames Restoration Fund is helping deliver a total of nine projects, two of which are now complete. Although very different all projects are delivering improvements to our rivers.”, said TRT Chairman Chris Poupard. To find out about each project, including these two newly funded projects click here.
Consultation now closed
December 2017 – Help us challenge proposed increases in charges for EA permits
Thames Rivers Trust is concerned that the Environment Agency is proposing to increase charges for permits. The EA has published a consultation (open until the 26th January 2018) which proposes increases to the charges for permits to carry out habitat improvement work of the type rivers trusts, wildlife trusts and angling clubs have been doing for years; delivering public and environmental benefit improving habitats, biodiversity, reducing flood risk, removing obstacles to fish migration, often with significant recreational benefits.
Much of the practical work to implement WFD objectives is now carried out by the third sector in partnership with the EA, local authorities and riparian owners.
The proposed increase costs are prohibitive for small scale Rivers Trust’s type projects. We are deeply concerned that the proposed EPR charges will impose a disproportionate burden on smaller third sector delivery groups.
This could severely damage the ability of Rivers Trusts and others to carry out work on projects to improve river habitats for wildlife and people. It’s quite a daunting document, however there are only one or two sections that are directly relevant. We have drafted a response with some key points you may wish to use click here. Just copy and paste it into ‘section 8.1’. You will also need to fill out sections 8.3 and 8.4.
September 2017 – Robert Oates, our Deputy Chairman represented the River Thames at the Cauca River Restoration Forum in Cali, Colombia in August. He found Cali to be a beautiful and safe city in a very friendly country. But like many cities around the world, Cali has grown fast and development has run ahead of environmental protection, with negative impacts on the river and water supplies. The regional government is now determined to rectify the situation and invited three experts from Europe to help develop solutions. One key outcome of the Forum was the main stakeholder organisations agreeing to form a ‘Cauca River Basin Technical Committee’ to plan, fund and deliver restoration projects.
July 2017 – Thames Region Success with DEFRA Natural Flood Management Bids
An excellent result for the Thames region with DEFRA announcing the successful bids to millions of pounds of funding for Natural Flood Management (NFM) whilst at the SuDS in Sutton Schools project. Well done to all the Rivers Trusts who will now be enabled to deliver a range of NFM schemes within the catchment.
Thames has the most projects (12) in the £1.6m ‘Community Scheme’ with South East Rivers Trust’s SuDS in Sutton School being one of them. TRT seed funded SERT for this multi-benefit project with £25k through our Thames Restoration Fund.
Thames has three projects funded from the £14m ‘Catchment Scale NFM Programme’ which has also been announced. The Evenlode NFM Demonstration Catchment (seed funded £25k by our Thames Restoration Fund grant to Cotswolds Rivers Trust) is reconnecting the River Evenlode to the floodplain.
DEFRA Floods Minister Therese Coffey and EA Chair Emma Howard Boyd for the announcement of the 34 winners of £1.6m for community scale NFM projects visited SERT’s SSS; which aims to reduce flood risk to approximately 100 properties in Hackbridge as well as inspire and educate many school children. To download a summary of SuDS in Sutton Schools click SERT SuDS in Sutton School Brief July 2017 . For more details on NFM and this funding visit our NFM page.
Pictured: Floods Minister Terese Coffey visiting the SiSS project with Chair of the EA Emma Howard Boyd and SERT Director Bella Davies.