Somerset anglers – your views on river management are needed A new era in the management of Somerset’s three main river systems has been launched with the creation of the Somerset Water Management Partnership.

The new organisation is made up of several partners, including the Environment Agency, all involved in tackling the water issues affecting the county’s three main river catchments – the Parrett, Axe and Brue. It is co-ordinated by Somerset County Council.

With climate change presenting unprecedented challenges, the partnership will look at all issues impacting on the communities, landscapes, economies and ecologies of the three rivers with a focus on community involvement and participation. There will now be a series of events for parish councils, the farming community and other interest groups such as anglers to meet with water managers and hear about water-related topics and activities in their local area.

The Somerset Water Management Partnership will build on the success of the Parrett Catchment Project set up in 2000 in response to prolonged flooding that affected much of Somerset. Over the past seven years the project has worked with farmers to improve land management practices and plant woodland which has stabilised soils and slowed flood flows. Flood retention schemes have also been built on farmland.

The Partnership will also operate alongside the Waterlinks Project, which is aiming to win £50 million of BIG Lottery funding, at a televised public vote that is being broadcast in December.

Councillor Hazel Prior-Sankey, Chair of the new partnership and Somerset County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Transport and Waste, said:
“This partnership will provide a platform for debating issues and striving to seek a consensus on the best way forward to meet the challenges ahead. It will also identify and implement projects that would not otherwise be feasible for single organisations to deliver on their own.”

Steve Dury, Somerset County Council’s Project Manager for Coast, Catchment, Levels and Moors, said: “According to the latest climate change figures the risk of flooding looks to increase, and there will be other impacts including increased risk of sediment and pollution runoff into watercourses.. This new partnership aims to manage flood risk and water management in a more sustainable way through partnership and consensus, the pooling of resources and skills, and recognising and maximising opportunities.”

For more information about the new partnership, the forthcoming community meetings and how you can get involved, contact Steve Dury on 01823 355170.

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