Severn Water Integration Management
The Severn Water Integration Management (SWIM) project was delivered by the Severn Rivers Trust over two years (2017-2019) in northern Powys, across the former county of Montgomeryshire.
Clean rivers are important for recreation, for wildlife, for fishing, agriculture and for many businesses relying on ample supplies of clean water.
The river Severn and its tributaries suffer from a number of pressures including:
· Pollution from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources
· Concrete and paving in built-up areas limit water storage and drainage
· Barriers in rivers that stop fish from swimming freely
· Poor land management leading to loss of habitats and key species
· Alien species such as Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed which smother river banks and cause increased erosion
Flooding is devastating for homes, businesses and key infrastructure and river catchment management plays a role in the severity of these floods. We all have a role to play in soil and water management. The SWIM project developed a new technique for managing flooding by using natural capital at a catchment scale to reduce downstream flood peaks.
Where precipitation hits a river catchment, a great proportion of it ends up in the river, taking with it any pollution on the land. How quickly this water gets to our rivers and the severity of the impact depends on the land management. For example, soil compaction and a reduction in tree and hedgerow cover all increase the impact of flooding.
Natural capital such as tree cover, well maintained soils etc. can reduce the impact of downstream flooding. By modelling this natural capital, the SWIM project identified the areas where the most cost-effective interventions could take place.
By engaging local communities by setting up local flood action groups and by having two-way discussions with landowners; local people were able to lead the discussion and contribute by identifying the areas where natural capital can be improved on the ground. By engaging landowners in discussion which benefitted the farm business as well as the river catchment, we were able to get farmers to support the project in a sustainable way.
Engaging volunteers and communities ensured the project had multiple benefits For example, best practice advice on hedge planting for agriculture students, active volunteering, increased biodiversity and reduced pollution leading to improved water quality.
This project has enabled Severn Rivers Trust to bid for future funding to undertake capital works to reduce flooding.