About the Upper & Bedford Ouse catchment
The Upper & Bedford Ouse catchment is one of 11 management catchments forming the Anglian River Basin District. The catchment covers an area from the headwaters of the River Great Ouse west of Buckingham and Brackley to east of Huntingdon and St Ives, where the river flows into the Old Bedford & Middle Level and Cam and Ely Ouse catchments - and on to The Wash.
The River Great Ouse dominates the catchment, from its source near Brackley, flowing north east to Earith. Main tributaries include the Padbury and Clayden Brooks, rivers Tove, Ouzel, Flit, Ivel, Kym and the Alconbury Brook. The Grand Union Canal crosses through the catchment and is a key inland waterway link from London to the Midlands.
Major urban areas are Brackley, Milton Keynes, Buckingham, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, St Neots, Huntingdon, Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock.
Land is largely used for agriculture, but with extensive sand, gravel and clay deposits, the catchment is also important for quarrying. Redundant pits have been used for waste disposal or as lakes for water sports, fisheries and nature reserves.
The Upper & Bedford Ouse catchment is divided into 5 smaller operational catchments:
Upper Ouse catchment
About the Upper Ouse catchment This catchment covers the upper reaches of the River Great Ouse, which rises just northeast of Brackley, flowing mainly eastwards to Wolverton, Milton Keynes. Other major tributaries are the Padbury and Clayden Brooks and River Tove. It is a mainly rural area with arable and livestock farming, and estate parkland.…
Ouzel & Milton Keynes catchment
About the Ouzel & Milton Keynes catchment The Upper & Bedford Ouse catchment is one of 11 management catchments forming the Anglian River Basin District. The catchment covers an area from the headwaters of the River Great Ouse west of Buckingham and Brackley to east of Huntingdon and St Ives, where the river flows into…
Lower Ouse catchment
About the Lower Ouse catchment This catchment covers the River Great Ouse valley from Roxton to Earith and its main tributaries Abbotsley/Hen Brook, River Kym, Ellington, Cock and Alconbury Brooks. The River Great Ouse flows through the major towns of St Neots, Huntingdon and St Ives and contributes to their character. Elsewhere the catchment is…
About the Ivel catchment The River Ivel catchment is bounded by the Chiltern Hills to the south and Greensand Ridge to the North. The Rivers Ivel and Flit, and some tributaries, rise from springs in the Chiltern chalk. Several smaller watercourses (Running Waters, Chicksands Brook and Millbridge Common Brooks) rise from the Woburn Sands aquifer.…
Bedford Ouse catchment
Bedford Ouse catchment The Bedford Ouse catchment is predominately rural with Bedford as the major urban area. As it flows eastwards from Newport Pagnell to Roxton, the River Great Ouse is joined by the Chichley, Elstow, Harrowden, Cople, Sharn and Ravenstone Brooks. The River Great Ouse has ‘fresh water fish protection’ status. The area is…
Our Catchment Plan
Our Catchment Plan is based on actions and aspirations within these operational catchments. Please click on an operational catchment for more information.
Operational Catchments are further divided into waterbodies – discrete sections of rivers, lakes or groundwaters that have their own characteristics. In 2009, 25% of water bodies were classified at Good Ecological Status or Good Ecological Potential; and there were no bad water bodies. Interim results from 2013 indicate a slight increase in the number of Good Ecological Status (GES) or Good Ecological Potential (GEP). However, there are fewer Moderate waterbodies, with more Poor and 3 Bad waterbodies.
As at 2013 the 3 main reasons why more waterbodies within the management catchment are not achieving Good status are:
- pollution from waste water – particularly from the water industry, but also from industry, manufacturing and other business;
- physical modifications to watercourses (including in-channel structures and channel straightening);
- pollution from rural areas – primarily from agriculture and rural land management.
Further information on the Upper & Bedford Ouse catchment, including detailed information on the classification of water quality, reasons for failure to meet Good status and proposals for improving water quality, please see the Environment Agency Catchment Data Explorer.