The Hills to Levels Multiple Benefits Project is funded by the Environment Programme (Water Environment Improvement Fund WFD GiA) and is a partnership project between the Environment Agency and FWAG SW. It is part of the wider ‘Hills to Levels’ approach in Somerset.
The aim of the Multiple Benefits Project is to demonstrate that multiple benefits can be delivered by Working With Natural Processes (WWNP) / Natural Flood Management (NFM) in small target catchments. Examples of multiple benefits are improving water quality and raising the Water Framework Directive (WFD) status of our waterbodies, flood risk reduction and improvement to the wider environment such as habitat and river morphology. Those multiple benefits will be delivered through land management advice and funding of capital grants to any private and public landowners, followed by monitoring the effectiveness of the measures.
Many NFM / WWNP measures have the potential to provide several of the following benefits, if multiple environmental issues are kept in mind and if they are carefully planned:
- Improve infiltration into soils to reduce the generation of run-off and erosion and to increase soil water storage, for example
- Attenuate, slow and filter run-off with
- Temporarily store run-off in-field with Leaky Ponds using a range of different Leaky Outlets
- Further slow the flow in ditches
- Slow the flow in streams or rivers, create habitat and stabilise banks
- Connecting streams or rivers with their floodplain and temporarily storing high flows on the floodplain
The above list of measures is not exhaustive. All information is intended for guidance only and describes current best practice. The detailed requirements for every scheme are site specific – please contact FWAG for advice. Local contractors of choice can be used, or farmers / landowners can choose to do the work themselves, depending on the complexity of the planned work.
Evidence-driven and multidisciplinary catchment management
Target catchments are chosen based on WFD classification and flood risk. Delivery in each catchment is evidence-driven: detailed catchment walkovers, soil structural degradation surveys and local knowledge identify priority issues and sites. Then, delivery plans suggest priority actions in each catchment. The suggested actions will be followed up in order of priority.
A multidisciplinary ‘Technical Adviser Group’ has been set up to advise the project delivery. Experts across several departments within the EA and other partner organisations come together to review technical information sheets for typical measures, advise on measure designs and to streamline the delivery and consenting process.
– Leaky woody dam site visit of the Technical Advisor Group
– Using level gauges to monitor flow levels upstream and downstream of leaky woody dams
To demonstrate that carefully targeted and designed measures can deliver multiple benefits, the project is monitoring both the effectiveness of individual measures as well as the cumulative effect of multiple measures at the catchment scale. A range of visual and basic analytical techniques are being used. Generally, little is known about the long-term maintenance that may be required for the various NFM / WWNP measures. Monitoring under this project will help us to learn which designs are most suitable and to gain more understanding on how much and what type of long-term management is required.
Working with the local community, local flood action groups and landowners / farmers is crucial for this project: “every person, every field, every farm and every stream has its part to play” in flood risk reduction and water quality improvement across a whole catchment.
– Community Event in the Upper Washford Catchment to introduce the Project