The Somerset Catchment Partnership is in the South West River District and includes five operational catchments within its area and the transitional and coastal waterbodies:

  • Brue and Axe
  • Parrett
  • Tone
  • West Somerset Streams
  • Severn Estuary & Bristol Channel

The Somerset Catchment Partnership will gradually develop Catchment Strategies to support local collaborative works that are necessary to improve our water environment. Due to capacity issues from the Partnership and partners, we will be focussing our effort on specific catchments.

Brue and Axe

The River Brue rises in the catchment’s Eastern clay uplands, before flowing through the Somerset Levels and Moors and entering the sea at Highbridge.

The River Axe rises from limestone springs on the Mendips, flowing through the Somerset Levels and Moors to the sea. The Brue and Axe rivers are interconnected by rhynes controlled by sluices, forming a complex artificial drainage system. Land use is predominately agricultural, the Mendi Hills providing water for public supply.

The rivers are interconnected in several places by rhynes controlled by sluices, forming a very complex artificial drainage system

Brue Catchment

The Brue Catchment is one of the current focus catchments for different partners in Somerset. The Somerset Catchment Partnership and key partners is developing the Brue Catchment Strategy to address several identified issues in 2019. For more information regarding the Strategy, follow this link.

Axe Catchment

Works currently undertaken by partners in the Axe will help to inform the development of a Catchment Strategy in the future.



The source of the River Parrett is near Cheddington to the South of Crewkerne. It flows through the Somerset Levels and Moors to the Bristol Channel at Bridgwater Bay. The catchment area covers 1260 square kilometres. Land use is predominantly rural, with urban areas including Bridgwater and Yeovil. The catchment contains a number of designated sites of national and international importance; a significant part of the low-lying Somerset Moors are designated Special Projection Areas and a Ramsar site, which depend upon flooding.



The River Tone is 33 kilometres long from source to its confluence with the Rivers Parrett, covering an area of approximately 410 square kilometres. The River Tone and drains Exmoor, the Brendon, Quantock and Blackdown Hills. Downstream the Tone enters Clatworthy Reservoir and runs South to Taunton; the Tone becomes tidal at Newbridge before joining the Parrett at Burrowbridge. The Bridgwater and Taunton Canal (24.6km) leaves the Tones in Taunton and flows on to Bridgwater to the tidal River Parrett. Predominant land uses in the catchment are permanent pasture, arable and sheep and cattle grazing and woodland.


West Somerset Streams

The West Somerset Streams catchment starts at Foreland point and extends East to Hinkley Point, covering approximately 320 square kilometres. A larger part of the catchment lies within Exmoor National Park and includes rivers and streams that drain to the North coast such as Doniford Stream, Washford River, Pill River, River Avill, River Aller and Homer Water. The catchment is of outstanding importance for nature conservation with a great variety of high quality habitats; from the moorland of Exmoor to the deeply cut wooded combes to the coast. Tourism is the major industry in the area, particularly the beaches at Minehead, Porlock Weir, Blue Anchor, Kilve and Watchet.


Severn Estuary & Bristol Channel- Transitional and Coastal Waterbodies

Transitional and coastal water bodies includes the Severn Estuary and Bristol Channel and their tidal-influenced area. The Bristol Channel is a major in the island of Great Britain, separating South Wales, Devon and Somerset. The Bristol Channel is an important area for wildlife, in particular waders and has protected areas such as national nature reserves such as Bridgwater Bay at the mouth of the River Parrett. The Severn Estuary boundaries stretches to a line from Lavernock Point (South of Cardiff) to Sand Point near Weston-Super-Mare. The estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world- about 50 feet (15 m). The tidal range results in the estuary having one of the most extensive intertidal wildlife habitats in the UK, comprising mudflats, sand flats, rocky platforms and islands. This form a basis for plant and animal communities typical of extreme physical conditions of liquid mud and tide-swept sand and rock. The estuaries is recognised as a wetland area of international importance and is designated as a Ramsar site. It is recognised as a Special Protection Area under the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds and as a Special Area of Conservation un the EU Habitats Directive,

The resort towns of Weston-Super-Mare, Burham-on-Sea, Watchet, Minehead are located on the Bristol Channel. Most of these towns have designated bathing waters which attract thousands of people to visit Somerset’s coast.

The Severn Estuary Partnership was set up in 1995 as an independent initiative to focus the activities of local government, statutory authorities and interested parties such as farmers and fisherman. The Estuary Partnership produced a 2017 – 2027 Severn Estuary Strategy “to champion an integrated approach to the sustainable use and enjoyment of the Severn Estuary”. For more information on this strategy, please follow this link.


Click here to go back to the Somerset Catchment Partnership homepage to learn more about an aspect of the partnership, or go directly to the 'Partners' page