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Grantham RiverCare congratulates winners of UK River Prize 2024

There is much work being done to preserve our river systems, writes Ian Simmons and David Martin, co-leaders of Grantham RiverCare.

The UK River Prize 2024 was announced recently at the River Restoration Centre’s Annual Network Conference in Llandudno.

The winner was a project from the Lake District titled the ‘Ullswater Catchment Restoration’. It highlighted that, while this part of the country is loved by all, decades of intensive farming and land use has changed the geography of the area and, in particular, the river system.

Grantham RiverCare co-leaders David Martin (left) and Ian Simmons
Grantham RiverCare co-leaders David Martin (left) and Ian Simmons

It is a great (ongoing) project and deserved the accolades showered upon it.

Why, I hear you mutter, are the Grantham RiverCare chaps droning on about somewhere 180 miles away? Indulge us further…

Closer to home was a project awarded a coveted ‘runner up’ spot. The ‘Upper Witham Restoration’ project brought together the Environment Agency, National Trust, Wild Trout Trust, East Mercia Rivers Trust, Grantham Angling Association Fly Fishing Section, the University of Lincoln and South Kesteven District Council.

The project highlighted the work carried out to protect our native White Clawed Crayfish and Brown Trout, both at risk of local extinction, and improve the hydrology of the catchment from Colsterworth to Sleaford.

Of particular interest locally is the work carried out around Manthorpe, where natural floodplains have been re-connected to the river, and within the grounds of Belton House.

Visitors to Wyndham Park and QE Park will have noticed that berms have been built into the river banks to improve the flow of the water which helps the river bed by accelerating flow and provides dense vegetation for all forms of life.

Playing with the shape and speed of the Witham manages all sorts of factors, including flood

management (reducing the risks to people and property), cleaning the river bed of silt (much of which is washed from farmland during heavy rain) making it more attractive to spawning fish and other invertebrates, which, while often unseen, provide the base of the food pyramid for the local ecosystem.

Next time you are lucky enough to see the Kingfishers along the river, think back to the fish it relies on and the invertebrate life that the fish rely on.

RiverCare regularly monitor the river and feel a part of this success. We were flattered that the video submission for the project included our volunteers showing how little things can help build a bigger picture. You can find the video here - https://tinyurl.com/avazzed2

In conclusion, congratulations to the project team and let’s keep up their good work!

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