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The government’s catchment-based approach was announced on World Water Day, 22 March 2011. It was seen as the tool by which Integrated Catchment Management could be delivered. One of the fundamental ideas was to engage stakeholders via a more local catchment-based approach.

Pang the Blue Pools
The Pang
© Greenaway Collection
Ewelme watercress beds
The Lower Middle Thames
© Chiltern Chalk Stream Project

A total of 25 catchments were chosen as pilots that were evaluated in terms of the different ways they approached and supported stakeholder engagement. A further 41 smaller pilot catchments were awarded a small sum of seed corn money from Defra to go ahead and initiate the catchment-based approach that concluded in March 2013. FWR was pleased to be awarded one of these smaller grants, to cover the South Chilterns area.

On the 3rd June 2013 Defra announced funding for a new Catchment Partnership Scheme for the management of the water environment to follow on from the pilot projects outlined above. Administered by the Environment Agency, invitations were requested from organisations for funding to host one of the 80 catchments across England. FWR successfully bid to continue as the host of the South Chilterns Partnership, and are now hosting the current scheme entitled 'The Water Environment Improvement Fund' that runs until March 2017. In addition, FWR are more than match-funding the partnership over the same time period.

Wye DS from Ryemead Way
The Wye & Hughenden Stream
© Chiltern Chalk Stream Project

The project criteria identified by Defra involves engaging with stakeholders, exploring with them and agreeing the water quality and related issues in the catchment, defining what actions need to be taken to address the issues, and identifying whether stakeholders have the capability or capacity to deliver those actions to achieve Water Framework Directive objectives. As host, it is up to FWR to identify and engage with these stakeholders, develop a shared understanding of issues in the catchment, help initiate joint agreed actions and source funding to undertake identified projects. This is an ongoing project feeding into the Environment Agency's River Basin Management Plans for the second cycle of the Water Framework Directive, and started in 2015.

The South Chilterns Catchment Partnership area covers the catchments of the Pang, Hughenden Stream, Wye and Lower Middle Thames (the latter covering the Ewelme Stream and Hamble Brook).