way of working at river catchment scale to improve the water environment. There are now more than 90 catchment partnerships after CaBA was officially adopted by the government in 2013 after the success of the pilot catchment partnerships.

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  • Stour catchment logoThe catchment based approach

    In March 2011, the government announced the launch of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA), a way of working at river catchment scale to improve the water environment. 25 pilot catchments were selected by DEFRA to trial CaBA.

    Catchment Based Approach_200CaBA is about much more than just complying with the Water Framework Directive. It allows local communities, businesses, local authorities, organisations and other stakeholders to come together to plan and deliver improvements to the water environment. CaBA was officially adopted by Government in June 2013 after the success of the pilot catchment partnerships. There are now over 90 catchment partnerships. 

    Water Framework Directive

    The UK, under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), has a duty to manage its waters from their existing state into better condition.

    The European Water Framework Directive came into force in December 2000 and became part of UK law in December 2003. The WFD provides an opportunity to plan and deliver a better water environment, which for the first time also focuses on ecology. The Environment Agency is the competent authority for the WFD.

    The WFD introduced a formal series of six year River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) cycles. RBMPs identify the objectives required to deliver the WFD. The first RBMP cycle will end in 2015 and the RBMP will then be updated and re-issued.

    The WFD has a primary focus of improving the ecological health of water bodies, this is assessed by measurement of their ecological status. At Good Ecological Status (GES), a waterbody has the healthy balance of fish, aquatic plants, diatoms and macro invertebrates. However, these plants and animals require the correct water quality, water volume and flow conditions in order to survive. To achieve good ecological status it is often the case that the chemical, hydrological and morphological conditions need to be good for the biology to respond. The hierarchy of class for surface waters is summarised on the right.

    The catchment assessment table summarises the main ways a typical catchment is assessed under European directives.

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