Environment Agency Wales has launched the Catchment Abstraction Management Strategy (CAMS) for the River Usk catchment. CAMS are being developed across England and Wales making more information on water resources and abstraction licensing publicly available.

The Usk CAMS presents our assessment of the catchment’s water resources and will form the basis for all our decisions on the sustainable management of these resources over the next six years.

Water abstraction, the removal of water, permanently or temporarily, from rivers, canals, reservoirs or underground strata usually requires an abstraction licence from the Environment Agency. This helps to ensure that enough water is left in our rivers for the recreational needs of other people and for the environment.

The Usk CAMS area covers over 1,000 square kilometres of mostly rural land. It is one of Environment Agency Wales’ largest catchments and includes the River Usk and its tributaries, but not the Usk Estuary. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal also falls within the catchment. In the Usk CAMS catchment water is taken mainly from surface water and some groundwater sources.

Following the consultation period last autumn, a statement of response was issued. The statement of response and the final strategy document are available to view on the Environment Agency’s website:
www.environment-agency.wales.gov.uk/cams.

If you would like a paper copy of either document or more information, please contact Kathryn Mainwaring, Regulatory Officer responsible for the Usk CAMS, on 02920 245393 or via email:
cams.walessoutheast@environment-agency.gov.uk.

In the Usk CAMS catchment water is abstracted for public water supply, navigation, agriculture, commerce/industry, domestic use, spray irrigation, horticultural watering, lake/pond maintenance, fish farming and hydropower generation. The catchment is also important for angling, recreation and tourism, as well as for providing a habitat for many nationally and internationally important species. The ecological value of the catchment is recognised through the designation of the River Usk and its upper tributaries as Sites of Special Scientific Interest
(SSSIs) and a riverine Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This SAC designation under the European Union Habitats Directive has been a major consideration in developing the Usk CAMS.

The impact of all abstraction licences on the River Usk and its tributaries has been taken into account in developing the Usk CAMS. The aim of the strategy is to balance environmental requirements with local economic needs and allows everyone to see where water is available for further abstraction and how we propose to manage these water resources in the future. It is available to anyone who has an interest in water resources, but particularly those who wish to abstract water from the catchment for any purpose. The Usk CAMS will enable businesses and private individuals to consider water resource availability prior to applying for an abstraction licence.

The Environment Agency is currently reviewing existing abstraction licences within the Usk catchment for compliance with the Habitats Directive Regulations. Affected licence holders are being consulted.
This work will be completed at the end of March 2008. The River Usk CAMS will be revised and updated accordingly. The revised licensing strategy will be reported as an annual update on the Environment Agency’s website at www.environment-agency.wales.gov.uk/cams.

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