More than 70 potential barriers to fish migration and 190 likely sources of diffuse pollution were identified by APEM on the River Worfe catchment in Shropshire, as part of a major catchment restoration project led by the Severn Rivers Trust and funded by DEFRA.

Eel and fish pass

River Worfe Catchment Restoration Programme

The Worfe and its tributaries consist of nine, mainly rural sub-catchments, all but one of which were ranked as ‘poor’ under the Water Framework Directive. With significant opportunities for the river to benefit from a range of established and innovative improvement techniques, it was selected as one of the UK’s high priority restoration projects with funding of £1.25 million under DEFRA’s catchment restoration programme.

The River Worfe Catchment Restoration project began work in September 2012. It was led by the Severn Rivers Trust along with a wide range of partners, with APEM playing a key role.

  • River Worfe restoration work 3
  • River Worfe restoration
  • A digger working on the bank of stream

What we did

Staff from APEM surveyed the entire River Worfe catchment on foot looking for a wide range of issues, such as potential sources of pollution and barriers to fish migration. We have developed a standardised approach for walkover surveys that is recognised as best practice by the Environment Agency and has been adopted by Natural England and the Rivers Trusts.

High resolution aerial surveys also captured thousands of highly detailed images of the catchment, helping analysts to identify potential sources of pollution that were hard to spot on the ground.

APEM also helped to prioritise actions to restore the river and worked with local farmers and landowners to make them aware of the restoration project and encourage them to help with improvement measures.

Issues on the Worfe catchment included sedimentation, phosphates, nitrates, invertebrates, barriers to fish migration, low flows, diatoms, macrophytes and dissolved oxygen.

Partner organisations included the Environment Agency, Severn Trent Water, Shropshire County Council, National Farmers Union, RSPB, Shropshire Wildlife Trust and the Wild Trout Trust, amongst others. The project ended in 2015.

More information:

River Worfe Catchment Restoration Initiative

Severn Rivers Trust

The Results

  • Entire catchment surveyed on foot
  • Thousands of high resolution images captured by aerial surveys
  • 190 potential sources of diffuse identified
  • Wide range of catchment restoration actions supported
  • 20 farm visits carried out
  • Samples collected from 51 sites throughout the catchment in just a few hours
  • 70 potential barriers to fish migration identified
  • Two eel ramps installed
  • One multi-species pass installed
  • One weir removed
  • One weir partially removed