The priorities for the Catchment Management Partnership (as agreed by the project group) are set to be in line with multiple EU Directives and national strategies such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and National flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England.


They are derived from a wide range of evidence-based data such as:

  • Significant Water Management Issues (SWMIs) identified in the WFD for the Upper Thames which are viewed as the major contributors to a waterbody failing to meet Good Ecological Status. This can help to identify areas at high risk from diffuse pollution agriculture from a combination of factors such as phosphates and pesticides. Click here for more information on this.

  • Local information and catchment walkovers which identified areas where communities are at particular risk from flooding, or infrastructure such as drainage and road maintenance has broken down to create problems with water ingress and water quality. Catchment walkovers can also be used to identify opportunities for restoration works along rivers and in the wider catchment.

  • Data from statutory bodies, such as:
    • Environment Agency report ‘Communities at Risk’ that identifies the number of properties and businesses that are at risk of flooding. Available upon request from the lead local flood authority (Gloucestershire County Council).
    • Natural England data on the condition of Sites of Specific Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservations

  • Other monitoring data collected such as water sampling carried out by Thames Water, Riverfly monitoring (to detect changes in populations of riverflies) and Freshwater Watch; all of which help to provide a better picture of water quality within the catchment.


Based on this data the partnership has developed four key priorities within the Upper Thames catchment:


Restoring high quality and connected habitats 

Delivery of the WFD relies on our waterbodies being in ‘Good Ecological Condition’ and improvements to river habitats are central to this. Whilst this starts with riparian watercourse improvements, it can extend well beyond this to wet habitats on floodplains or woodland creation to help with slowing the flow from catchment to waterbody and the partnership supports many wide-ranging projects that contribute to improving wildlife habitats.



Improving land management and supporting sustainable agriculture 

The Upper Thames partnership works with a large number of farmers and other land-owners to help them develop strategies to reduce soil erosion, improve the water holding capacity of soil and prevent nutrient and pesticide loss. This not only helps keep the water environment healthy but makes sound financial sense to farm businesses as their land becomes more resilient to climate change and their soils produce better crops.


Reducing foul water run-off

There are many sources of foul water run-off including inadequate road drainage, sewerage surcharging and run off through livestock farmyards. The partnership works with local communities and land-owners to understand what the issues are and how problems can be resolved; often by community action or through volunteering or grant aid support such as the Catchment Sensitive Farming programme.


Improving water and flood risk management

To a large extent, this combines all the above priorities but it can also be a key priority in terms of seeking change as many local communities are only too aware of the consequences of flooding to their homes and businesses. Cirencester and Fairford are both communities where the partnership has worked to look at how flooding problems can be alleviated within the built-up areas through the restoration of historic drainage infrastructure. The partnership also works with landowners higher up in the catchment to reduce the amount of water or the rate at which water reaches watercourses. For example, at the top of the Coln where the partnership is working with landowners to reduce the risk of flooding to Andoversford through measures such as leaky woody debris dams and changes in land use and land management.


These priorities are regularly reviewed depending on feedback and agreement from stakeholders.



Click here to go back to the Upper Thames Catchment Partnership homepage to learn more about an aspect of the partnership, or go directly to the 'Action Plan' page