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Recovering the Deben: From Source to Sea is an ambitious project that aims to restore the land, water, and nature throughout the River Deben catchment and estuary. 

Our vision is to recover the River Deben for people to love and wildlife to thrive

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The project is open to everyone, click here to find out how you can get involved and have your say.

THE DEBEN SOURCE TO SEA

The River Deben and its tributaries (streams, ditches, and rivers that flow into the main river Deben and estuary) are in need of help. Environment Agency monitoring in 2015, 2019 and 2022, showed that only one out of the ten waterbodies (watercourses and river segments) that make up the River Deben catchment meet good ecological status. The remaining nine waterbodies in the catchment are failing both ecologically and for water quality. The river and its wildlife need our support to help it recover.

 

To find out how your local waterbody is performing, visit the Deben Operational Catchment Data Explorer.

This project will work across the whole catchment (land within the watershed which drains into the river and tributaries) from the source of the Deben near Debenham all the way to Woodbridge, near to where the river becomes tidal, continuing to the sea at Felixstowe Ferry. 

HOW DID THE PROJECT GET STARTED?

In mid-2023 the East Suffolk Catchment Partnership, a group of organisations and individuals that have an interest in the state of rivers of East Suffolk decided to focus efforts on a project to improve the river Deben by engaging as many people as possible to help from across the whole catchment. Work began on what would become known as Recovering the Deben From Source to Sea. The early stages of this project were to establish governance and bring structure to multiple efforts within the catchment with the purpose of restoring the waterbodies in the catchment for both people and wildlife.

In August 2023, many partners participated in a ‘Roundtable’ with the Secretary of State for the Environment who wanted to understand more about why the river Deben and its estuary are failing to meet legislative targets. During this meeting the Secretary of State called for an action plan to be produced which was agreed to be the Recovering the Deben Source to Sea Project and a draft action plan was agreed by the East Suffolk Catchment Partners on 8th February 2024. Published on the the 14th May 2024, the full Action Plan is now available to view online. 

HOW WE CAN WORK TOGETHER

There are many factors contributing to the state of the river, most of which are from human activity and include:  pollution from the land, highways and water recycling centres (sewage treatment plants); historic engineering affecting flow of water and habitat; and the impacts of management practices, abstraction and low flows. 

Futureproofing the River Deben will mean reversing historic habitat fragmentation as well as adapting to the weather extremes that climate change is bringing, causing lower flows in the summer and an increased potential for flooding in winter.

The challenges facing the Deben catchment require us to plan actions strategically, so that the whole impact can be more than the sum of individual efforts. This requires us to work together - coordinating between organisations and local people. Already a lot is happening so together, we can capture current activities, build on them and scale up our efforts.

The Restoring the Deben From Source to Sea project has access to over 40 water quality datasets, of varying timescales and measuring many variables, that have been provided by several organisations. The Project Working Group recognise that The Deben Climate Centre has been instrumental in their monitoring efforts. You can read their full 2024 report on the water quality in the River Deben

WHO IS INVOLVED IN THE WORKING GROUP?

To facilitate the coordination of tasks such as the initial set up, investigation, and strategic action planning, a Working Group has been formed. This group includes a variety of organizations from both governmental and non-governmental sectors.  You can read more about the member organisations on our partner page.

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WANT TO HAVE YOUR SAY?

 

We want to hear your thoughts on what we need to do to make the Deben Catchment a better place for all. Click here to take our short survey and help us shape the future for our natural environment on the Deben.

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