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Water Restoration Fund Bid for the River Deben

The East Suffolk Catchment Partnership has recently submitted an application to the Water Restoration Fund to help finance the Recovering the Deben from Source to Sea project.

The Recovering the Deben from Source to Sea project is an ambitious and catchment-wide programme, seeking to contribute to returning all water bodies within the Deben catchment to ‘Good’ Ecological Status or Potential (and prevent further deterioration) as well as contributing to changing the state of the river Deben Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) from unfavourable declining to recovering.


The project has entered a £250,000 Water Restoration Fund application to help deliver the next stage of the programme, which is aimed at benefitting the range of red list wildlife species that the river and estuary support. The project aims to return sea trout and European eel to the river and hopes to create up to 210 hectares of new habitat along the riverbanks of the Deben.

Two of the threatened species that the project aims to help. Left to right: The European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and Sea trout, the anadromous form of brown trout (Salmo trutta).


The project will include the development of the following three components:

  1. Completing feasibility and outline design for all 23 structures affecting fish passage and river continuity along the Deben and tributaries.

  2. Completing baseline and options development for establishment of natural edges, a super-buffer zone of 10m wide (minimum) along the whole Deben and its tributaries.

  3. A pilot study to investigate and outline design a water treatment/attenuation pond at the bottom of a tributary which flows directly into the estuary. This can be used as demonstration and then replicated across other tributaries draining directly into the estuary.


The East Suffolk Catchment Partnership have determined that existing action is positive but is not resulting in the changes needed to arrest decline and tackle the issues on the Deben quickly or comprehensively enough. There is an urgent need to reverse the decline in SSSI habitats of the estuary, which are affected by diffuse pollution and are unfavourable declining. This project will tackle over 42% of the activities identified as causes for the river to not meet the required standards for ecological status.

Tackling impacts from agricultural diffuse pollution across the river network and all barriers to fish migration are essential foundations for achieving Good Ecological Status and Potential and to kickstart SSSI recovering status for the estuary.


You can read more about the Recovering the Deben from Source to Sea project on our dedicated project and news pages.

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1 Comment

Jul 02

I doubt there is anything that can be done to encourage the European eel to the river Deben. The water quality is not the reason for the eels decline.

The eel was prominent in the river twenty years ago and was not deterred by water quality.

In fact the best places to catch eels were close to the outfalls of the Sewage treatment works.

The decline of the eel is world wide and due to overfishing, elver exploitation and possibly climate change.

The return of sea trout would be fantastic.

John Laughlin

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