The YOUse is a flagship partner project within the river Ouse catchment (from the headwaters of the High Weald down to Barcombe Mills) to enthuse others about the wildlife, recreational and heritage value of rivers. We would like YOU to feel part of the life of the Ouse at Sheffield Park. In 2010 a ‘drop-in’ survey was carried out as part of the MORPH project. This investigated who was most interested in the river, what was most important about the river to them, how good they think these aspects currently are and whether or not restoration of the flood plain was a good idea.

The results of this survey indicated that interest was spread throughout landowners, anglers, recreational users and ‘other’ users and that all of these groups could identify aspects of the river which were ‘very important’ to them. They acknowledged that the quality of these aspects were only ‘ok’, and generally supported improvements to the river. It was also interesting to discover that, as well as finding the physical and biological aspects of the river important, the historical value was also highly valued.

The project will focus on controlling soil loss from agriculture in the Ouse catchment, aiming to reduce suspended solids levels, fertiliser and pesticide related chemicals in affected stretches of the river. By working closely with farmers, landowners and key stakeholders, the aim is to demonstrate how land management practices can have a positive role in reducing the need for water treatment whilst also conserving the biodiversity of the Ouse catchment.

The project will also explore opportunities for funded infrastructure improvements not normally possible through standard funding streams. This will involve a feasibility study that examines the viability of payments being made to farmers in exchange for improvements to water quality.

In response to the challenges we face from climate change this project will identify how certain improvements could be made to balance the river system and produce more sustainable flows. The Sussex Ouse is a very ‘flashy’ river system producing peak flows in a relatively short space of time. We would like to investigate a range of options that benefit the environment and water resources in the long term.

Specific Objectives:

1. Research and understand the current issues surrounding water quality in the Sussex Ouse catchment.

2. Target specific works on the ground and set up a water quality monitoring program.

3. Study and evaluate the relationship between land management, biodiversity and water quality

4. Consider the impacts of climate change and what opportunities exist to provide sustainable river flows that benefit biodiversity and water resources.

5. Build the results into a long term Catchment Management Strategy for South East Water.

Wider projects in the River Ouse

The YOUse project is a small branch of MORPH (Middle Ouse Restoration of Physical Habitats), created as part of the Adur and Ouse Pilot Scheme. In 2011, the Adur and Ouse catchment was selected, along with 9 other catchments, to take part in the pilot, launching new approaches to river basin management. The concept looked to combine ambitions from the Catchment Flood Management Plan (CFMP) and WFD actions needed to move towards good ecological status. By operating on a ‘catchment’ level with ‘big society’ principles, the project looks to explore better ways of engaging with people and organisations in a way to make a difference to the health of all our waterways.

MORPH in particular looks at reconnecting the flood plain and improving hydromorphology and fish passage. One MORPH site, Spring Meadows just upstream of Sheffield Park, made headlines while the project was underway, appearing on BBC’s Country File. This project re-instated an old meander restoring more natural riverine processes similar to ideas for YOUse.  More information can be found at: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/131506.aspx.


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