One of the primary drivers for the work of the Adur and Ouse Catchment partnership, and similar catchment partnerships across England, is the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It embodies the principle of working together to achieve more than we could in isolation and, because the essence of the WFD is about protecting and improving the health of our water environment for sustainability reasons, it encompasses the remits of many organisations across all sectors. Thus it is an important element of our Catchment Management Plan and, equally, catchment management plans are becoming a fundamental component of WFD River Basin Management Plans.

River basin management planning is England's mechanism for implementing the WFD, led by the Environment Agency, with the over-arching objective of achieving good ecological status (or potential) in all waters. River basin management uses a six-yearly cycle of planning, action and review. This iterative planning cycle 'classifies' the state of all waters by measuring chemical, biological and ecological elements to provide a baseline condition every six years, against which to assess improvements or deterioration. That baseline condition of each waterbody is then matched to one of five colour-coded status categories: bad, poor, moderate, good or high, as shown in the side-bar. For groundwater, quantity and chemical quality elements only are measured, and the classification categories are good or poor.

The baseline status of waterbodies in the Adur and Ouse catchment was first published in the South East River Basin Management Plan in 2009. The Adur and Ouse is one of nine catchments that comprise the South East River Basin District, and warrants a variety of actions to achieve good status or potential across the area.

In synchronising integrated catchment management with river basin planning (and the objectives of the WFD) there is a need to strike a balance between environmental, social and economic needs to make catchment management truly sustainable. This introduces the concept of ecosystem services, and the need to assess the benefits of any action against how much it costs to implement. This is an emerging work area that we are keen to explore.

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting. From an original concept by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.