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What is the Downs & Harbours Clean Water Partnership?

The D&HCWP is a 3 way partnership between the Environment Agency, Natural England and Portsmouth Water set up to improve the coastal, ground and surface water quality for the people of East Hampshire and West Sussex.

The Project is driven by the requirements of the Water Framework Directive and will contribute towards achieving Natura 2000 objectives and the SSSI PSA target to bring Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) into favourable condition.

Who is in involved in the Partnership?

The Downs & Harbours Clean Water Partnership (from herein referred to as ‘the Partnership’) is an initiative formed and funded by:

  • Environment Agency

  • Natural England

  • Portsmouth Water 

The Partnership is supported by a steering group with members from:

  • National Farmers Union (NFU)

  • Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)

  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)

  • South Downs Joint Committee (SDJC)

  • The Wildlife Trust

  • Chichester Crop Consultancy

  • Natural England (NE)

  • Environment Agency


How long has the partnership been running?

The Partnership was first formed at the end of 2008 and in March 2009 a project officer was brought in. Much of 2009 was spent forging contacts in the project area and carrying out a catchment appraisal to provide information on the geology, topography, land use and detailed profiles for each of the Rivers.


Why do we need the D&HCWP?

The Partnership is essential in meeting the UK's statutory commitments under the European Water Framework Directive. More information can be found at several sites, including the Environment Agency's (here).

The relevant River Basin Management Plan for the South East that includes the project area can also be found on the Environment Agency website here.

Portsmouth Water are committed to protecting and improving the quality of drinking water for their customers. The Partnership is focussed on improving the management of the land that feeds Portsmouth Water's groundwater boreholes and reducing risks of pollution thus securing the water company's resources for the future.


What is the Downs and Harbours Clean Water Partnership aiming to achieve?

The Partnerships number one aim is to improve water quality for all. The Partnership has several drivers:

  • to deal with rising nutrient levels (mainly from nitrates) in the rivers, groundwater and coastal waters of East Hampshire and West Sussex.

  • nitrates have become a significant problem to the health of some important parts of the South East’s coastline. The semi-enclosed harbours of the Eastern Solent are particularly affected by excessive algal growth owing to elevated nitrate levels in water and estuarine sediments. As a consequence, large areas of coastal SSSI and Natura 2000 sites in the Eastern Solent are in unfavourable and declining condition.

The chalk of the project area includes critically important public water supply aquifers. Portsmouth Water has become increasingly concerned about rising nitrate levels leading to the deterioration in raw water quality at key sources and subsequent rising risks of failure of drinking water standards.

Within the project area agriculture has been identified as an important source of nitrate entering watercourses and groundwaters giving rise to the deterioration of the quality of coastal waters. These areas have also been identified by the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive as sensitive. Significant point sources of nitrate (discharges from sewage treatment works) affecting the harbours are being addressed under the Habitats Directive, where all major sewage effluent discharges will require improved nitrate removal by 2012.

The UK Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme is tackling diffuse water pollution from agriculture in other parts of the region where water quality is seen as an issue. The Partnership was formed to cover this important area that was not included CSF.


What are the objectives of the Partnership?

The objectives of the partnership are:

  • To reduce the amount of nitrates from diffuse water pollution from agriculture.

  • To protect and improve groundwater quality in boreholes used for public water supply

  • To deliver favourable condition to sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) i.e. Portsmouth, Langstone, Chichester Harbours and the River Hamble

  • To deliver Water Framework Directive water quality objectives

  • To encourage sign-up to Environmental Stewardship schemes 

Funding for years 1 and 2 went through EA employing the Project Officer, NE providing funds for project spending and Portsmouth Water providing office space, use of vehicle etc. Funding for the next two years (2011-2013) is again split between the EA and NE and Portsmouth Water, with the EA and NE providing the bulk of funds for project spending and Portsmouth Water directly employing and supporting the Project Officer.


How will these objectives be achieved?

Ojectives will be achieved by encouraging a voluntary initiative to improve water quality by promoting uptake of practices that can benefit both the farm business and the environment. The emphasis is on improving land management and reducing the amount of soil, nutrients and pesticides entering the water environment.

  • The Partnership currently has £50,000 per annum to spend on agricultural advice and services for the next two years.

  • To help achieve its goals the Partnership is offering a number of free services, these include:

  • Production of management plans for nutrients, manures and soils

  • 1:1 consultations and advice on land management

  • Farm demonstrations e.g. farm walks to demonstrate good practise

  • Relevant Workshops e.g. nutrient management, fertiliser spreader calibration

  • In addition alternative routes will be used to promote best management practises, such as:

  • Combined visits with NE environmental stewardship advisors

  • Links with other workshops in the area, e.g. EA Nitrate Vulnerable Zone workshops

  • Distribution of advice booklets

  • Website with up to date information (online shortly)

  • Raising awareness of available grants and funding

What is the current stage of the project?

Below is a brief summary of the project work to date and upcoming work:

  • A Project Manager has been in post since March 2009 (a new project officer was appointed in May 2011)

  • A Catchment Appraisal Report was completed to characterise the project area and prioritise the order in which to work on the river catchments

  • The River Wallington catchment was identified as the priority for years 1-2

  • A Long Term strategy document was produced, which set out a step-by-step strategy that can be applied to any river catchment in the Project area


On this website you can find out all about our work to help conserve and enhance this special area. If there is information that you cannot find, would like to see added to the website or if you would like to raise an issue, Please contact us or complete the enquiry form below.

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