The WILD project (Water and Integrated Local Delivery) is a collaborative project which includes the Gloucestershire Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), Cotswold Water Park Trust (CWPT) and Gloucestershire Rural Community Council (GRCC). The project is core funded by the Environment Agency (EA), with additional financial support for groundworks from the Summerfield Charitable Trust and GETCO (Gloucestershire Environmental Trust Company)
The project aims to enable local communities in the Cotswold Water Park to work to improve the ‘water environment’. The key driver in this is the government’s responsibility to meet its commitments under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
Under WFD legislation UK rivers and streams are assessed according to how close they are to a natural state on a number of parameters
• Chemistry (pollution)
Jenny Phelps of FWAG South West is focusing on watercourses that are failing for water quality issues, (i.e chemistry under WFD) particularly diffuse pollution, which is pollution that filters in over a large area from agricultural land use rather than point source i.e. sewage works discharge.
The waterbodies failing GES for chemistry in the project area are;
• The River Thames (Churn to Coln)
• Cerney Wick Brook
• River Key
• Marston Meysey Brook
• River Ray
The Cotswold Water Park Trust has been assigned the following priority water bodies, namely;
• Swill Brook
• Ampney & Poulton Brooks
• River Thames (Kemble to Cricklade)
• River Churn
• River Coln
These watercourses are all failing to achieve the required ecological standard under the WFD for Ecology, largely due to historic modification of the watercourse which reduces the diversity of habitats and consequently reduces the species that can live in the river.
Technically all the priority watercourses within the Cotswold Water Park Biodiversity boundary have been modified to some extent with most river channels being wider than they would be naturally due to years of dredging. The Ampney and Poulton Brooks in particular have been straightened extensively in the past probably hundreds of years ago when flooding of the meadows was the best way to fertilise the land. The River Churn has been split in to numerous channels and impeded by weirs to power mills and on the Thames trees that were pollarded in the past for animal fodder, are no longer actively managed sometimes resulting in excessive shading.
Consequently ecological enhancement works could be done almost everywhere but as we are limited by resources and the need to acquire landowner agreement, we have to identify priority areas first which offer the best value for money. The process of identifying what enhancement works we would like to pursue is conducted by reviewing survey information, existing fluvial audit information and well established river restoration techniques.
Areas are being identified for proposed works which could be as small scale as some tree works to reduce shading but if landowners are willing we will look at raising funds to conduct more dramatic habitat enhancement works for a high profile flagship venture like restoring meanders.
So in summary with local community input and commitment from local landowners, the project aims to devise and deliver a plan of enhancements and management advice over the project lifespan to achieve Good Ecological Status in water bodies within the Water Park area in the long-term.