Bury Brook Walk Over with the Environment Agency

Myself and two members from the Environment Agency (Catchment Co-ordinator and Geomorphologist)  went on a walk over of Bury Brook at the end of October this year. The aim was to identify/confirm reasons for WFD failures and also to identify what actions could be taken (long term, short term and by EA or others) to try and improve the health of the river. The following are  my observations and thoughts:

  1. Flow: Flow rates were generally slow. The river has been over widened for drainage purposes and  relies on surface water run off to feed it. As it is on clay bedrock it is probably a flashy river and we visited after a period of low rainfall which might account for a lower flow rate but some river stretches were extremely slow indeed, leading to…..
  2. Sediment: in many places the river had a deep layer of silty sediment. This is  probably caused by run off from fields and slow flow.We did see sites where the slope of the fields, lack of natural barriers (hedgerows etc) and limited /no buffer strips would be likely to lead to high run off rates. Deep layers of sediment do not make good habitats for invertebrates or fish and act as a source of stored nutrients which adversely affect river water quality and associated wildlife.

    Compaction in buffer strip

    3. High phosphate levels:  were indicated by large amount of nettle growth upstream and various algal growths downstream including filamentous algae. The most likely cause of these high levels upstream is run off; downstream there are two sewage treatment works which might also be contributing phosphates into the river.


Algae and sediment

      4. Some good signs : where the river has had “light touch ” management it is showing signs of reverting back to a more natural state. In places the bed was gravelly with varying width and flows and it was even beginning to re-meander within its deep channels with the occasional berms or islands  developing. On the golf course quite far downstream the EA had done some restoration work and created artificial berms.

So what could we do? 

  • Investigate phosphate levels upstream in high flow conditions
  • Consider what actions could be taken to reduce field run off
  • Selective bank clearance where it is heavily overgrown to create more varied habitats
  • Further sediment removal to create artificial berms/pools

River Basin Management Plan

The Water Framework Directive is the main driver of improvements to water quality within Europe and consists of 6 yearly cycles of planning and delivery, in England these plans are the responsibility of the Environment Agency.

The first planning and delivery cycle began in 2009 and the Environment Agency has produced their draft River Basin Management Plans for the next cycle, which will begin in 2015. This plan is currently available for consultation and the draft plan can be found at https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/wfd/draft_plans/consult.

To help you do this the Environment Agency is holding a series of workshops over the next few months.  The first workshop will look at the Old Bedford and Middle Level Management Catchment on 11 December 2014, 9.30 – 1.00pm at the Environment Agency’s Denver Complex (Sluice Road, Denver, Downham Market, PE38 0EG) and you are cordially invited to come along.

In this first series of workshops the Environment Agency will introduce the draft RBMP consultation documents, the questions and other sources of information available to you. There will be an opportunity to look at some of the local information.

The aims are that, by the end of this meeting, you will:

  • Understand how your input can influence the draft Anglian River Basin Management Plan to improve the water environment.
  • Know what is in the plan, supporting documents and tools.
  • Know how to respond to the consultation and by when.

There will also be some information about Flood Risk Management Plans and the consultation for this, which closes on 31 January 2015.

Please reply to Teresa Brown, Catchment Coordinator, Environment Agency,

Email: teresa.brown@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 01733 464228

Post: Brampton Office, Bromholme Lane, Brampton, Huntingdon, PE28 4NE.


Once registered, we will send you the full agenda and details.

Tea and coffee will be provided.

Please let Teresa know if you have any mobility difficulties, the meeting room is accessed by a flight of stairs.


If you can’t make this date – other events in this Area that you could attend are:


  • Tuesday 16 December at Swaffham, The Ecotech Centre   – NW Norfolk Management Catchment
  • Wednesday 17 December at Marston Moretaine, The Forest Centre   – Upper and Bedford Ouse Management Catchment
  • Thursday 18 December at Waterbeach, (venue to be confirmed) – Cam and Ely Ouse management Catchment