We are exploring better ways of engaging with people and organisations at a catchment level, in ways that can make a difference to the health of all our waters and habitats.
We want to engage with those we work with at a catchment level to encourage greater local participation and achieve more for communities and the water environment.
Why work at a catchment level?
On World Water Day (22 March 2011), Richard Benyon, Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, announced that to bring about genuine improvements to the water environment we should:
"Provide a clear understanding of the issues in the catchment, involve local communities in decision-making by sharing evidence, listening to their ideas, working out priorities for action and seeking to deliver integrated actions that address local issues in a cost effective way and protect local resources."
In April 2011 we began piloting new approaches in 10 catchments across England, followed by a further 15 pilots established in January 2012 by external organisations. The pilot phase finished in December 2013.
There are now 64 catchment groups operating in 87 of England’s Water Management Catchments. These groups are busy implementing actions, and building on the good work of the pilots which demonstrated that working collaboratively at a catchment level can bring about many benefits including stronger relationships with partners, an improved and agreed understanding of the problems faced, and a greater commitment to action.
What is a catchment?
There are 93 catchments in England, six of which cross borders with Wales. A catchment is an area with several, often interconnected, water bodies (rivers, lakes, groundwater and coastal waters). Many of the problems facing our water environments are best understood and tackled at a catchment level.
The first two links below take you to a map of the catchments, and highlight where the pilots or wider initiatives took place (see the section on wider initiatives for more information on these). The final link provides a list of Environment Agency staff who you can contact for more information about activities in each catchment.
Wider adoption of the Catchment Based Approach
On Monday 3 June Defra launched a Policy Framework to aid wider adoption of the Catchment Based Approach.
The policy sets out the high level objectives for the approach, to establish catchment partnerships in every catchment in England where there is an interest in doing so to:
- Deliver positive and sustained outcomes for the water environment by promoting a better understanding of the environment at a local level
- Encourage a more transparent form of decision making, in support of local collaboration or partnership working, for both planning and delivery.
Administering Grant Fund for catchment group facilitation
To encourage collaborative working and a greater commitment to action, Defra are providing a fund for this financial year 2013-14 to recruit and train catchment partnership facilitators. Wherever possible, and with the agreement of stakeholders, Defra would like this role to be undertaken by eligible third party organisations (charities).
Further detail on the allocation of funding will be provided on 22 June. However, indicative milestones can be seen below.
- 22 June 2013 - Environment Agency seeks Expression of Interest from eligible bodies to act as catchment group facilitators (coupled to River Basin Management Challenges and Choices Consultations)
- 22 June to late July 2013 - Local discussion between catchment groups, prospective facilitators and the Environment Agency to develop Expressions of Interest
- Late July/early August 2013 - Deadline for Expressions of Interest to Environment Agency
- August 2013 - Evaluation of Expressions of Interest
- September 2013 - Award of grants to successful group facilitators
Table listing the 25 catchment pilots and the hosting organisation(s)
|Catchments hosted by the Environment Agency (EA)
||Catchments hosted by other organisations
Adur and Ouse
|Cam and Ely Ouse
||Anglian Water Services
||River Nene Regional Park (RNRP)
||Aire Rivers Trust
||Groundwork Lancashire West and Wigan
||Tyne Rivers Trust
River Don and Rother (PDF, 2MB)
||Bath & North East Somerset Council and Avon Frome Partnership & Groundwork South West
||Severn Rivers Trust
||Eden Rivers Trust
||New Forest National Park Authority
||Frome and Piddle
||West Country Rivers Trust
||Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West
||Thames 21 & Thames Estuary Partnership
||Surrey Wildlife Trust on behalf of Wey Valley Partnership
||Tame, Anker, Mease
||Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust
In addition to the 25 catchment pilots, there were a further 41 initiatives in other catchments. These initiatives were led by organisations that expressed an interest to pilot the catchment approach.
Find out about initiatives in your local area:
The aim of the catchment pilots was to protect river wildlife and habitats by:
- encouraging participation to improve the water environment
- delivering a range of environmental benefits for the community
- developing a shared understanding of the catchment priorities
- making sure participants feel the pilot has made a difference in what can be achieved
Information for those involved in pilots and wider initiatives
For a copy of the Environment Agency's collaborative working toolkit please contact:
To contact our national Integrated Catchment Management team please email: