Hosted by the Wessex Chalk stream and Rivers Trust, this catchment focuses on the river Avon and its associated tributaries. The River Avon is considered to have one of the highest levels of biodiversity in lowland Britain. Good salmon and trout stocks have led to the river Avon being a popular river for angling. At 96km long, the main tributaries converge at Salisbury and the Avon discharges into the sea at Christchurch. The River Avon is fed with groundwater originating from Cretaceous chalk and Upper greensand aquifers, this account for approximately 85% of the total river flow. Groundwater from these aquifers is heavily abstracted from and its water chemistry is the main cause for concern within the catchment. High levels of nitrate and phosphate have been found in the groundwater and are attributed to agricultural activities in the surrounding catchment.
The catchment covers approximately 1750 sq km and 205km of river is designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The catchment contains 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 2 Environmentally Sensitive Areas, 9 Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), 6 National Natural Reserves and 71 SSSIs. In 2009 the catchment was divided into 39 river water bodies, 11 lakes, 1 estuary and coastal water and 3 groundwater bodies. 30% of these were classified at Good Ecological Status or better under the Water Framework Directive in 2009.
The population of the catchment stands at 230 000 and is only 2% urbanised. The main urban areas in this catchment are Salisbury, Christchurch and Warminster. Rural land use accounts for 98% of the area and comprises of woodland, arable and improved pasture grasslands.
Through collaborative working the partnership aims to ensure that the Hampshire Avon exhibits:
- Naturally functioning flows,
- High water quality,
- Sustainable and abundant wildlife
- Fully functioning ecosystems linking rivers with their valleys; and
- Resilience to climate change and future socio-economic pressures.
For more information about this catchment visit their website, http://www.hampshireavoncatchmentpartnership.org.uk/