River Ems Restoration

Ses Wright - Project Officer

The River Ems flows into the coastal town of Emsworth to the west of the Arun & Western Streams catchment. The Deepsprings to Racton Park Dell reach of the Ems has been proposed for restoration works by Portsmouth Water. This work forms part of the National Environment Programme (NEP), whereby the UK Government sets targets and objectives that ensure that water companies meet European Directives, relevant national targets and their statutory obligations; the Environment Agency has been involved in this particular NEP project and supports the proposed works.

The Arun & Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT) working in partnership with the Wild Trout Trust (WTT) have been asked to help plan and deliver these works in summer 2015.  The proposed works aim to help re-establish a more natural river regime over an approximate 300m reach of chalk stream which will function over a wide range of flow conditions. The key objective is to create a sinuous channel with varied bed morphology capable of supporting an enhanced diversity of flora and fauna in what is currently a heavily modified channel due to previous historic land uses. Portsmouth Water currently augment late summer and autumn flows along the mid-low reaches of the Ems to ensure a perennial flow from just upstream of the town of Westbourne.

The Ems is a natural winterbourne with some of the upstream reaches naturally drying out during dry summer months as the groundwater springs subside after autumn/winter rainfall.  The Ems is currently graded as being of poor ecological status due to abstraction pressures and man-made obstructions that limit fish passage up and down the system. The prospects for augmenting flow to offset abstraction pressures through this reach in combination with channel shape modifications provides opportunities for restoring a high quality chalk stream capable of supporting a healthy and diverse ecology.

Looking downstream from Racton Park Dell towards Deepsprings

The Ems
Photo Ref: S. Wright 5/11/14