Introduction to the Projects of the Welland Rivers Trust
During the 1970s the River Welland was significantly modified. The natural river morphology was altered to improve land drainage and flood water discharge. The river was deepened; many meanders, pools, riffles and glides were removed; and the river was constricted within high, straight banks. High winter flood flows and poor land management practices now cause significant bank erosion and sedimentation. Prior to modification a high proportion of these nutrient-rich sediments would have been deposited on the floodplain, providing rich grazing pasture, but, as a result of the flood defence works, a large proportion of these sediments now remain in the channel, degrading habitats including fish spawning gravels. As a result the River Welland is currently failing to meet the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) objective of “good ecological status” because of high phosphate levels and poor fish populations. Remedial action is required.
To ensure that the river meets WFD objectives in the future the Welland is now one of 10 catchments across England where an integrated approach to catchment management is being piloted. The pilot includes the implementation of a series of river enhancement projects at various scales and many in Partnerships with organisations (voluntary, commercial and governmental).
An immediate benefit of this has been the formation of the Welland Valley Partnership, a multi-agency forum which involves communities, organisations, local authorities and businesses working together to improve the River Welland for people and wildlife.