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.


The South West River Basin Management Plan (2009), Environment Agency


Upstream Thinking is South West Water’s flagship programme of environmental improvements aimed at improving water quality in river catchments in order to reduce water treatment costs.  The initiative is supported by a number of partners. Devon projects include Dartmoor Headwaters Natural Mires (led by Dartmoor National Park Authority), Exmoor Mires (led by South West Water) and Working Wetlands (led by Devon Wildlife Trust).

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.

North DevonTaw River Improvement Project  led by the West Country Rivers Trust 

Catchment Sensitive Farming provides diffuse pollution advice to land managers in priority areas.

Catchment based approach – a community-led approach to monitor and manage the quality of the river environment from source to sea through collaborative working.

This North Devon Biosphere video shows how farmers in North Devon have managed the land to create new wetlands and help to preserve nutrients in soil and save money.

Flooding/drainageHigh 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.

Agricultural Resource Management report, 2016 –  outlines barriers to good land and soil management and suggests actions needed in order to improve land management to improve flood risk management in Devon. Produced by FWAG for the LNP

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)