Avon Bristol and Somerset North Streams Management Catchment

Operational catchments

There are 4 operational catchments in this management catchment.

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Operational Catchments


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    The river basin is encircled by the hills of the Cotswolds, Salisbury Plain and the Mendips. The river runs through gentle pastoral landscapes and old towns such as Bradford and Bath before emerging through the Clifton Gorge at Bristol into the Severn Estuary at Avonmouth. A number of rivers in the catchment drain directly to the Severn Estuary including the Little Avon in Gloucestershire and the North Somerset Streams. The upper reaches of the catchment are very rural with significant arable agricultural activity on the higher ground and livestock more common on the lowland pasture. The main river is slow moving lowland clay river which has been modified by impoundment, land drainage, flood alleviation engineering and by intensive agriculture in the flood plain. Avonmouth is a key industrial area and port. Historically the river and many tributaries were impounded to serve the many watermills along its length, subsequent siltation has resulted in changes to depth and plant communities. The Severn estuary is an internationally important site for conservation and there are 66 Sites of Special Scientific Interest across the catchment, and 8 of these are directly related to rivers. The catchment supports a diverse fish fauna and is highly regarded as a coarse fishery. There are major potable water supply groundwater abstractions located in the Malmesbury area and from surface waters lower down the cathment. Most of the licensed water abstractions in this catchment are for public supply, including several large reservoirs (Blagdon and Chew Valley). The Bristol Avon and North Somerset Streams management catchment has been divided into 16 operational catchments (4 surface water operational catchments). The operational catchments have distinct characteristics and pressures, and require a different mix of measures to achieve long-term objectives for the water environment and reduce the risks of flooding. We are proposing amending the Bristol Avon and North Somerset Streams Defra Management catchment boundary so the River Axe will now be included in the South and West Somerset Defra Management Catchment (as part of the Brue and Axe Operational Catchment).

    River Congresbury Yeo