Working with land managers we have been able to introduce subtle changes to current land management practices in order to slow water flow from the hills, create floodwater storage areas and reconnect the river with its floodplain. So far we have carried out the following on 17 separate farms:
• 207 ha of riparian woodland created, which will help increase rainfall interception, evapotranspiration, soil infiltration and slow overland flow
• 21 km of fencing erected and just under 300,000 native trees planted
• 2.2 km of river re-meandered. This has increased river length, reduced the slope and speed of the water flow and provided more space for flood waters, as well as creating new habitats and improving the landscape.
• 2.9 km of flood embankments removed
• 116 ‘high flow restrictors’ installed that will encourage out-of-bank flow and hold back water in the headwaters
• 28 leaky ponds created (12,155 m2). These wetland features have a good deal of ‘free board’ built in so that they will store water during intense rainfall events.
An in-depth project progress report (2016) is available here.
Monitoring the effects of these measures is an important part of this project. A network of rain gauges, groundwater and river level gauges have been installed throughout the valley to collect data on how the changes affect river flows and flood frequencies. Other monitoring programmes will reveal what changes occur to the river’s habitats and wildlife such as fish, aquatic invertebrates and vegetation. Detailed monitoring and modelling of the groundwater has also been undertaken at a site close to Eddleston village.
In recent years, the entirety of the UK’s water environment has been monitored and assessed using a national classification system (arising out of the EU Water Framework Directive). Improvements in the Eddleston Water have been detected over the lifetime of the Project, with the river improving from ‘Bad’ status to ‘Poor’, and then to ‘Moderate’.