The Multi Benefits Project has now come to a close (as of April 2022). However, we are still funding natural flood management work through the Hills to Levels project.

The infographic above showcases the project work that has taken place (April 2022)

The Hills to Levels Multiple Benefits Project was funded by the Environment Programme (Water Environment Improvement Fund WFD GiA) and is a partnership project between the Environment Agency and FWAG SW. This project was part of the wider ‘Hills to Levels’ approach in Somerset.

The aim of the Multiple Benefits Project was 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


    Attenuate, slow and filter run-off


    Temporarily store run-off in-field


     Further slow the flow in ditches


    Slow the flow in streams or rivers, create habitat and stabilise banks


    Restore the connections between watercourses and 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 or CSF to get 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.


    Community Involvement

    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



    Click here to go back to the Hills to Levels homepage to learn more about an aspect of the project, or go directly to the 'Hills to Levels Partners' page