Background to the Making Space for Water Project

Mark Haslam (Area Environment Manager, Derbyshire, Derwent and Erewash, Environment Agency) Background to the Making Space for Water Project

The original Making Space for Water project had its origins in the severe flooding of Sheffield in 2007. At the same time, the city of Derby, situated in the lower catchment of the Derwent, and historically prone to flooding, also came close to a serious flooding event when the reservoirs of Ladybower, Howden and Derwent overtopped their maximum capacity. 

Following an initiative from Mark Haslam and Chris Dean of Moors for the Future, Defra made available a total of £1m as a contribution towards 3 demonstration projects. These were based at:

Pickering, North Yorkshire

Holnicote, Somerset

and the present project on a headwater catchment of the river Derwent on the plateau of Kinder Scout, Derbyshire.

These projects all have as their main remit an investigation into the contribution that land management change (r "restoration") can have on reducing flood risk. This is achieved by delaying the peak surge of water in rivers and streams after a storm rain event by increasing surface roughness (re-vegetating) and storage capacity.

Although a reduction of flood risk is the main thrust of all three projects, there is an important consideration of the wider ecosystem benefits (services) of restoration for people and wildlife. In this regard, there are related investigations into the effects on water quality, in terms of colour, toxic metals and other chemicals.

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