As a result of heavy dredging and straightening programmes over many decades, the Welland above Stamford is in many places too wide, too straight and too deep to function as a healthy river. In some areas, the riverbed is up to three metres below its natural level. These modifications were completed to reduce flood risk to the adjoining land, and in some areas, to drain the land for agriculture. To the east of Stamford, the Welland flows in manmade embanked channels, often at a significantly higher level than the surrounding land. Significant in-channel structures along the Welland, both in size and number, include weirs, sluices and flood defences. These segregate channel lengths and prevent fish migration.
Modifications to the river channel can lead to changes in natural processes. Increased amounts of water running into the river can affect water quality through higher phosphate, sediment and chemical pollutants. Resulting increases in weed growth, and a decrease of oxygen dissolved in the water, damages invertebrates, fish and other wildlife.
River restoration can refer to several different actions aimed at restoring the natural state and function of a river. At the Welland Rivers Trust, we have been involved in several river restoration projects, from removing barrier to fish migration, to recreating natural two-stage river systems.
The Sea Trout Project
Many years ago, Sea Trout would naturally make their way from The Wash all the way up as far as the Town Bridge. The introduction of weirs and locks during past decades created impassable barriers to this migration and the Trout disappeared from the upper reaches of the river. The project currently under way will create fish passes through the locks and ‘ladders’ on the weirs, which will enable the Trout to once again navigate their way to Stamford. This project is being delivered with the Environment Agency and Wild Trout Trust.
For the latest update on this project, please follow the below link:
Werrington Brook Improvements
Location: Werrington Brook, Peterborough
Lead Organisation/s: Peterborough City Council; The Environment Agency; Peterborough Environment City Trust.
Funding Sources: The Water Framework Directive Grant in Aid through the Environment Agency
Following the completion of a feasibility study in 2014, a 5 year Werrington Brook Improvements project was launched to improve the water quality, biodiversity and community amenity function of several water bodies in this sub-section of the Welland catchment (including: Marholm Brook, Brook Drain, Paston Brook, Werrington Brook and Cuckoo’s Hollow).
These improvement works involve river restoration schemes, work with local communities and businesses to engender behavioural change, and work to tackle a wide range of pollutants at source.
Improvements involve re-shaping and re-landscaping five stretches of the Werrington, Marholm and Paston brooks, to restore the river to its more historical characteristics. The work will involve installing new features into the brooks to improve the way they naturally function. From restoring the natural flow of the river, to increasing the amount of oxygen in the water, the features will help to clean the water, create new habitats, and provide a more pleasant space for all to enjoy.
The project has recently completed works on Arundel Road and Rockingham Grove. Currently work is progressing on the outline designs for the Aubretia Reach, ahead of going out for public consultation. The planned construction start for this reach is November 2017.
Along with the Werrington Environmental award, awarded by the Werrington Neighbourhood Council, the project has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the National ‘Big Biodiversity Challenge’ awards, results of which will be known in September.
For the latest developments on this project, please follow the below link
Maxey Cut Improvements
Location: Maxey Cut, Tallington
Lead Organisation/s: The Environment Agency
Funding Sources: The Water Framework Directive Grant in Aid through the Environment Agency.
The Maxey Cut is a man-made drainage channel taking water away from the River Welland, returning it after the river passes Market Deeping and Deeping St. James. Water entering the Maxey Cut is maintained and controlled by large weir. Unfortunately, this weir was acting as a substantial barrier to fish and eel migration, leaving thousands of fish stranded each year.
Previous work on the Maxey Cut drainage has seen the Environment Agency resolve the migration-barrier issue through the introduction of a fish and eel pass. In addition, the EA set out to determine whether methods could be developed and applied that would encourage the formation of more natural marginal features and channel dimensions within this artificial flood channel. The project put a series of large, partially submerged vanes into the channel and monitored their performance over a winter-flood period. The aim was to show that such designs can enhance or accelerate the existing ‘natural’ channel narrowing, while also creating a more diverse bed structure. By initiating these trials in a 600m-reach, the methods can be extended to the remaining 11km stretch. It is also hoped that the evidence being collected can show sea trout migrating to sea and back. This could then be used to classify the Welland Catchment as a migratory salmonid river system, adding greater legal protection.
The 2016 phase has now been completed with the installation of an additional 23 sets of paired flow deflectors. These flow deflectors help create flow turbulence in the centre of the channel to encourage sediment scouring, preventing sediment build up and clogging. In addition, new grass cutting machinery is being trialled which will be used to maintain the low vegetated berms. Permits have now been applied for to complete improvement works in the remaining 11km stretch of the Cut.
Keeping the Welland Cool
Lead Organisation/s: The Welland Rivers Trust
Funding Sources: Flood Risk Management Revenue Grant in Aid through the Environment Agency
This project involves community volunteers plating trees along the banks of the River Welland and its main tributaries. Planting trees along the Welland is highly beneficial for both the wildlife and people who rely on it. For wildlife, the trees will grow to create shade for the water, which will lower the water temperature and increase dissolved oxygen in the water. This in turn will create a better habitat for freshwater biodiversity. In addition, the trees themselves will become suitable habitat for many important birds and mammals.
For land owners next to the river, and people who rely on the river, planting trees can bring about a range of different benefits, from life-saving shelter for livestock, combatting soil erosion, warming the soil to extend the growing season and slowing run-off and reducing flooding. They also provide habitat for game birds, attract vital pollinators, and could provide an extra income through wood-fuel.
Additional benefits from this project will include re-connecting and re-engaging communities with their rivers, and getting people thinking about conserving this vital resource into the future.
From December 2017-March 2018, six community tree planting events will be held across the Welland Catchment, involving volunteers from Gretton, Harringworth, Great Easton, Bringhurst, Drayton, Duddington, Lubenham and Market Harborough. In total, we estimate that around 2,000 saplings will be planted in riverine habitat through this project.
By the end of February, four plating events has been held across the upper Welland catchment, with two more events still to be delivered in March. To get involved or to learn about up-coming planting events, please contact us through the website, or follow the Welland Rivers Trust on Facebook or Twitter.