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The river team players

Are you flood ready? - The river team players

Are you flood ready?

This lesson looks at the ownership and managment of drainage basins.

Key questions

  • Who are the drainage basin and floodplain stakeholders and how do they have an impact on eachother?
  • What happens when one agency takes the lead role for management?

Key concepts

  • Physical processes
  • Interdependence
  • Place
  • Space
  • Human processes

Who are the drainage basin and floodplain stakeholders and how do they have an impact on eachother?

Different groups of people who live or work alongside a river or in a drainage basin will have different priorities, and will use the river for different purposes. Sometimes user groups may be in conflict, with their activities having a negative impact on the activities or enjoyment of others. In addition, some activities may actually increase the risk that a river will flood. Some examples are listed below:

  • Homeowners: If they pave over their gardens to make a parking space they will make flooding worse as water cannot soak away. This makes things worse for everyone (this could equally apply to pub car parks)
  • Farmers: If they remove trees or hedgerows then rain-water cannot be caught (intercepted). This allows more water to reach the ground and makes things worse for everyone
  • Industries: They may pollute water, making it harder for tourist businesses, for example river cruises, to attract customers

What happens when one agency takes the lead role for management?

In order to overcome the conflicts between different users of a river, it may be necessary to appoint a lead agency to oversee the management of the river. This organisation may be:

  • The Town Council or The Environment Agency
  • A conservation group or The National Trust
  • A special organisation, for example Mersey Basin Campaign

An example of effective management of a river environment, the Mersey Basin Campaign was set up by the government in the 1980s to restore water quality and riverside conditions in the River Mersey, which had become extremely polluted by industry and sewage. The Campaign got private industries, local government and charities working together to:

  • Improve water quality
  • Clean up the waterside environment and encourage new buildings and businesses to locate there
  • Encourage public, private, community and voluntary participation in the clean up operation

They installed an oxygenation tank to improve water quality, meaning that wildlife could return to the river. There are now 30 species of fish in the river, including salmon. In addition, there has been regeneration of the Salford Quays area, and the annual Mersey Basin Week involves local schools and residents in clean-up, recycling and conservation activities.




Who are the river team players?

Imagine that all of the different groups of people who live near and use a river are like players on the same team. These people include homeowners, dog walkers, and who else? In small groups, list as many groups of people as you can. Then share your ideas with the rest of the class. Who had the longest list?



What can the players do?

The activities of some players can make flooding worse for other players. Different groups of people depend on one another to keep their river safe. But some players can make it harder for other players to use the river, for example, industry can prevent tourism along a waterfront.

Using the players that you identified in the starter activity, design a poster showing how the different groups of people may either be making flooding worse for other people, or are perhaps ‘doing their bit' to improve matters. You can also consider the impacts that different players might have on the water quality and wildlife.

Use the template to help you create your poster, and the factsheet will also give you some ideas.

And who will be the referee?

Who will make sure that all of the players get together, talk and try to fix any problems that arise in the river environment? Think up an organisation or person that might take on this role. When you've decided, place them at the centre of your poster.

The case study of the River Mersey explains who the different players and the referee were in this example, which proved to be a very successful scheme.



End of unit quiz

Take part in the flooding quiz to test how much you have learnt in this unit. You can take part in teams, and why not give your team a water-themed name?

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