Chalk stream benefits from restoration project in Norfolk
The Environment Agency has been working with Norfolk Rivers Trust to improve the water quality and quantity on the River Wensum.
Chalk streams are a rare and valuable habitat, often referred to as the equivalent of England’s rainforests.
Since 2020 the Environment Agency has been working in partnership with Norfolk Rivers Trust to improve an internationally important chalk stream, the River Wensum.
Works taking place in Foulsham and Pudding Norton on 2 tributaries of the river has improved water quantity and quality. This was done by restoring the rivers flow to be more natural and improving the physical quality of the local habitat.
The works involved re-instating natural processes by creating a new shallow meandering channel and reconnecting the river with the surrounding floodplain. The interventions are nature-based solutions and help reduce run-off. They also hold water on the sites for longer to reduce flood risk, and help aquifers to recharge. Aquifers are where we get our drinking water.
Drone image of the work at Pudding Norton. Picture credit: Josh Jaggard.
As well as reducing agriculture run off to improve water quality, the project also benefited fish populations by providing refuges and spawning habitat.
Amy Prendergast, a catchment coordinator for Norfolk, at the Environment Agency said:
It is great to be able to complete a project which has so many benefits. Our work with Norfolk Rivers Trust has improved water quality, reduced flood risk and will help nature during times of prolonged dry weather.
This has been achieved using various methods including creating pools out of existing ditches and creating scrapes to naturally trap sediment from arable land. A massive thanks to the landowner for working with us and making this possible.
Rebecca Banks, Senior Project Officer at Norfolk Rivers Trust, said:
We’re thrilled with the initial result of these two restoration and enhancement projects and can’t wait to see the sites develop and evolve over time. Careful planning and surveys have ensured maximum benefit for nature and the environment with a return to a more naturally functioning floodplain.
Drone image of the work done at Pudding Norton. Picture credit: Josh Jaggard.
In Pudding Norton 8 hectares of flood plain was restored, 4 shallow ponds, 2 pools and more than 1100 metres of channel were created.
In Foulsham 6 hectares of floodplain and meadow was restored, 4 shallow ponds, 5 pools and 500 metres of channel were created.
Upstream the Norfolk Rivers Trust have implemented measures to reduce diffuse pollution through their water sensitive farming initiative. This has involved on farm and in ditch wetlands, outdoor pig grass cover trials, sediment traps and leaky dams.
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