When it comes to catchment management, there is a wealth of advice available online which can help you to deliver the most benefit from your management initiative.
From the issues that have been identified as affecting water quality in the Cam and Ely Ouse management catchment, we have summarised some of the key the management strategies and advice for you, the people that can make a real difference in our area. These are categorised according to the cause of environmental impact below. For more information and advice on a particular section, please follow the links find out more. If you have a question and cannot find the information below, or wish to participate in a management initiative in your local area, please let us know and we’ll be in touch shortly. To find out what projects are already happening near you, follow this link.
We believe that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that water quality is maximised in our catchment. We’re striving to work in partnership with landowners and farmers to promote best practice as a way to safeguard against diffuse pollution entering local water bodies, i.e. water soluble chemicals and polluted sediment that runs off fields during periods of high rainfall. At the same time, we want to ensure that the farm business remains profitable and that any on-farm initiatives that benefit the environment also deliver a cost saving to the farmer (either short or longer term).
Some of our main water quality concerns are linked with the application of pesticides and fertilisers, but we also see a number of other opportunities for farmers to make a huge difference on their farms:
Invasive Non-Native Species
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) of animals and plants can be introduced into an ecosystem through human transport, including deliberate and accidental release, or direct emigration if environmental conditions are suitable (this is often associated with the movements of aquatic species and global climate change). These species out-compete native species and can cause fundamental changes to the local ecosystem, such as extirpations (local extinctions) by altering the availability of nutrient, food, space, oxygen and light. Millions of pounds is spent each year on the removal of INNS and the re-introduction/monitoring of native species.
The number/presence of INNS can indicate how healthy an ecosystem is. If you are out by your local river or water course and spot any of the species in the guides below, please get in touch with as soon as possible. Help to stop the spread of invasive non-native species by following this simple advice: Check, Clean, Dry & Be Plant Wise
There is even an app – PlantTracker – to make community action easier than ever.
Plants - Canadian Goldenrod; Canadian and Nutall’s Waterweed; Curly Waterweed; Evergreen Oak; False Acadia; *Floating Pennywort; Garlics; *Giant Hogweed; *Himalayan Balsam; *Japanese Knotweed; Japanese Rose; Montbretia; New Zealand Pigmyweed; Parrot’s Feather; Rhododendron; Russian Vine; Turkey Oak; Water Fern
*Key Species. Learn more about invasive species across the UK on the NNSS website.
For those who weren’t aware, the UK saw just how destructive flooding can be in February 2014, with communities in the Somerset Levels and Moors being underwater for weeks, if not months. This caused wide-scale losses to homes, businesses and the environment and lead to increasing pressure on the Environment Agency to increase the maintenance of river systems – in particular, increase dredging. But dredging is unlikely to be an effective solution as this serves to only speed up the transport of water and therefore leads to problems further downstream.
Practical, sustainable drainage schemes are a much more effective management measure, slowing down water transport (landscape drainage) and increasing the storage capacity of the receiving environment. Natural solutions, such as restoring wetlands and river morphology, are likely to be more sustainable both in terms of cost and environmental impact. Furthermore, there are a number of farming solutions (e.g. buffer strips and retention ponds) which can help to slow water transport and also deliver additional benefits by reducing the pollutant loads entering the water course.
Follow the link for more information on dredging and practical solutions for flood management. Floods and Dredging – A reality check
River Morphology and Flow
If you wander by your local stream, rivers or wetland area (where the ground is wet or flooded all year), you may notice that the banks are lined with bushes and trees. These play an important role in managing the environment by controlling floods, cleaning water, helping surface run-off sink into the ground, and providing homes to a variety of animal and plant life.
From: A Community Guide to Environmental Health © Hesperian 2012
In more built up urban areas, such as towns and cities, rivers are often modified to flow in a straight line to control flooding and maximise the potential for housing development around them. However, straightening a river increases the speed of the water’s flow, which as previously mentioned, is more likely to cause flooding downstream. There are specific signs of flooding impact; in years where river flows may be reduced, the visible signs of erosion may be absent, however other signs, including the movement of large rocks and tree debris from previous years, may be visible. Get to know your local river and help out where possible to help safeguard your community.
Restoring river morphology is one of our main aims throughout the catchment. If you are already actively involved in river restoration or would like to be, please get in touch.
The Water Industry
Anglian Water and Cambridge Water recognise the need for catchment management as a means to relieving pressure on the end of pipe treatment which has been increasingly relied upon to deliver the very high quality of water that we expect in our homes. It is becoming increasingly challenging and costly to remove certain chemicals from drinking water and ensure that waste water is recycled back to the environment without affecting the local ecosystem (e.g. by removing phosphate which would otherwise cause algal growth and eutrophication in receiving waters). Water companies complete and implement Water Resource Management Plans and have a National Environmental Programme and corporate responsibility to ensure that the impact that they have on the environment is minimised. Read Cambridge Water’s Environmental Reports or visit Anglian Water’s Environmental Webpages for more information.
Sustainable water use is understandably a primary focus area for all water companies, with a national push to switch to water meters so that we can all be better connected with our water usage. Customer engagement sitting at the heart of new and existing schemes and Anglian Water has a number of initiatives which you could get involved with:
Tourism and Litter
Booming populations at coastal resorts and recreational users of waterways can cause huge problems for our environments, mainly due to the increase in litter that is associated with people. Tourism is fantastic for local economies and should be promoted whenever possible; however, this should also be managed with respect to the local environment, which is the reason that tourism is attracted in the first place. Voluntary community groups are more important than ever and we cannot thank the existing groups enough for the valuable work that you do. Groups such as RiverCare and BeachCare have an opportunity to work with catchment partnerships to really make the most of the time that they spend cleaning up their local waterways. If you are actively participating in one of the RiverCare groups locally, we would really like to hear from you and discuss how we can work together going forward.