With the dubious accolade of being the river in the worst condition within the Eden catchment, Pow Beck, a small lowland tributary of the River Caldew near Carlisle, needed improving … fast.
The beck had come under pressure from a number of sources: diffuse pollution from agriculture, ornamental weirs which prevented fish passage, invasive species, river straightening and septic tanks.
Thanks to the Environment Agency’s Catchment Restoration Fund, we were able to put a £375,000 plan into action to improve Pow Beck.
The Eden Rivers Trust ethos is that we work in partnership with farmers and landowners within the catchment to improve the river and make farms more water-friendly whilst benefitting the farm business.
We worked with 18 different landowners to tackle the issue of diffuse pollution, particularly in reducing the amount of slurry and other pollutants washing off the land into the beck.
Improving farm infrastructure can make a huge difference, such as altering yard drains to prevent clean water mixing with slurry. This reduced the volume of slurry generated.
We purchased an aerator, subsoiler and guidance machinery for landowners to help them improve the soil structure of their land and ensure that fertiliser was applied in the correct quantities in the right locations, reducing cost/wastage for the landowner and the amount of excess washing off the land.
Installing 5km of fencing and planting just shy of 1,000 trees helped to reduce river bank damage caused by livestock and increase the natural resilience of the beck to floods, erosion and overheating of the water. In some locations we also used brash – a natural method of slowing the rate of erosion that also provides an improved habitat for fish.