Exminster marshes

Water is Devon’s most valuable natural resource. Our damp climate has helped to create the internationally important blanket bogs of Dartmoor and Exmoor, wet acidic grasslands of the Culm (over 80% of England’s remaining culm grassland is found in Devon), and 3,500 km of streams and rivers, ranging from fast-flowing upland watercourses to meandering lowland rivers.

Current issues include the pollution of water courses, bathing waters and shell fisheries; barriers to fish movement; and serious flooding events. We need productive freshwater fisheries and shell fisheries, human communities protected from flooding and better quality wetlands, rivers and bathing waters.

Catchment-wide approaches to management of the water environment achieve multiple benefits and include innovative investment in the water environment, building on the Upstream Thinking approach pioneered by South West Water.

Projects and links

  • Defra’s Catchment Restoration Fund provided funding for three years from 2012/13 for projects which helped to meet Water Framework Directive targets (read the Catchment Restoration Fund: Environment Agency Summary Report (2012, 2013)).  There were four projects in Devon  led by the West Country Rivers Trust in the catchments of the Axe and Exe, Dart and Teign, South Hams and Taw.
  • Taw River Improvement Project  – otherwise known as TRIP, the Taw River Improvement Project involves restoration work, through targeted habitat management work and by reducing the amount of pollution entering the rivers, with an aim of improving water quality across the whole catchment to improve the health of this vital river ecosystem
  • Catchment Sensitive Farming provides diffuse pollution advice to land managers. Devon’s Priority Catchments are the Rivers Axe and Otter, South Devon, River Exe and Tamar – Tavy.  Advice is also available via the Taw, Torridge and North Devon Streams Partnership (one of nine partnerships across England).
  • The Catchment Management Information Gateway, developed by the West Country Rivers Trust, aims to provide up-to-date information and resources relating to all aspects of catchment management (under development).
  • Catchment based approach – Our watercourses and wetlands are managed most effectively through a Catchment Based Approach; a community-led approach to monitor and manage the quality of the river environment from source to sea through collaborative working.  The aim of a Catchment Based Approach is to deliver a range of environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting our water environments for the benefit of all.

Flooding High flowing river

  • Devon Flood Risk Management – information on the action being taken to tackle the risk of flooding in Devon including how to report flooding, natural flood management and the flood risk management strategy.
  • Latest headline evidence from the Defra Multi-objective Flood Management Demonstration Projects with a focus on the Source to Sea Project (Holnicote, Somerset), National Trust, can be found here Symposium Headlines, Holnicote.
  • Susdrain – provides a range of resources for anyone involved in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS)

Other useful documents