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 with many meanders, pools, riffles and glides 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 of this intensive modification, the River Welland is currently failing to meet the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) objective of “good ecological status” on the grounds of high phosphate levels and poor fish populations.
To ensure that the river meets WFD objectives in the future the Welland Rivers Trust and our partners within the Welland Valley Partnership are now pursuing an integrated approach to water resource management. This involves the implementation of a series of river enhancement projects at various scales across the Welland catchment.