Catchment Restoration Fund

The Catchment Restoration Fund (CRF) is as nationwide fund designated to improve the health of river ecosystems via habitat restoration and pollution reduction measures. Started in 2012 and intended to run over three years, the fund intends to tackle issues highlighted under the Water Framework Directive. The Westcountry Rivers trust has been allocated over £4 million to lead and deliver restoration works within the Westcountry. This has been split over 5 projects designed to target the specific issues within each catchment.

barnstapleTaw River Improvement Project

In 2012 the Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) was created in response to the development of the Catchment Restoration Fund. TRIP aims to address the issues currently causing the River Taw catchment to fail under the Water Framework Directive guidelines. These issues mainly relate to low fish stocks and high phosphate loads.
In response to this, TRIP aims to address In-stream and riparian habitat WFD failures from agriculturally derived phosphate as well as connectivity issues.
Two years into the project, TRIP has met or exceeded all delivery targets. This has been achieved via a number of methods

  • Farm plans and advice. All land management practices within a catchment have the potential to affect the waterquality. As the river Taw displays particularly high levels of phosphate it is important to minimise the potential run off and subsequent contamination from the surrounding catchment. Simple measures such as allowing riparian vegetation to establish and act as a buffer can significantly reduce diffuse pollution into the river. TRIP has worked closely with farmers to improve infrastructure and ensure the most efficient use of potential pollutants.
  • Electrofishing surveys are currently being undertaken in order to assess current fish stocks and to evaluate the success of the project.
  • In response to the high levels of phosphate found, water quality monitoring has played a large role in improving the health of the river Taw. Over 500 sites have been sampled and research group has been set up to investigate potential sources and methods of transfer. Several presentations outlining current findings can be found on our youtube channel here.
  • Improved connectivity – Walkover surveys identified several possible obstructions that may prevent fish moving through and repopulating the catchment. Where possible, mitigation measures have been put in place. These range in scale from the installation of fish passes to the removal of wiers. The Removal of the wier at North Wyke is an example of how removing obstacles that have little or no practical use can have a significant impact on the health of our rivers. The whole operation of removing the wier can be also be watched below

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