Water Water Everywhere


The UBOCP ‘Water Water Everywhere?’ conference was held on 12th July 2023.  Attended by over 70 people, including farmers and landowners, land management advisors, volunteers, water companies and NGO’s; the event highlighted the challenges of – and some solutions to – the contrasting challenges posed by having both too much water and too little water.

People enjoying a presentation

We are experiencing an increase in both heavy rainfall events and storm water discharges, leading to flooding and pollution risks; and hotter summers leading to low flows and dried up channels – with the added pressures of increased development.

These water resource issues we face now will only increase. Further development means there will be more of us living and working in the catchment, using more water and creating more waste; and the impacts of climate change further highlight the pressures our water resources will face.

Our Key-note speaker was Archie Ruggles-Brise – the 11th generation of his family to take the helm of Spains Hall Estate, since the Essex estate was purchased in 1760. A Chartered Water and Environment Manager, with 20 years’ experience, Archie is committed to transforming land use to take better care of the environment and providing greater habitats for wildlife on farmland. Archie covered the story of how the estate appraised the positive and negative impacts of their current land use system, devised a new outlook supported by the Natural Capital approach, and is now in the process of delivering a bespoke, highly integrated, pioneering system over around 500 hectares. Covering applied Natural Capital and ecosystem services work, natural flood management (including the famous Essex beavers), agroforestry, biodiversity net gain and a whole farm reservoir approach to water management Archie tied together some of the many strands that land use can impact on, and gave insights as to the current public-private partnership that includes water companies, government agencies, researchers and consultancies, and how that developed in 2022 to support the founding of the North Essex Farm Cluster.

The full programme of the event was: (All of the presentations given on the day can be viewed by the following links in the table below.)

09:30 ARRIVAL / COFFEE Networking
10:00 Jon Balaam and Archie Ruggles-Brise Welcome, Intro & WRAP overview
10.15 Sharon Russell-Verma ResilienTogether
10.35 Ryan Jennings Natural Flood Management (NFM) overview
10.55 Karen Paterson Alconbury NFM
11:10 Andrew Morsley Upper Ouse NFM
11.25 COFFEE BREAK Networking and activities
11:50 Archie Ruggles-Brise Famine to Feast
12:30 Q&A from morning session
12.45 LUNCH Networking and activities
13:30 Rob Bakewell EA East of England Drought Officer
13:50 Kathryn Mckenzie UBOCP Chalk Streams Working Group
14.05 Ian Hall The story of the Upper Ivel river
14:20 COFFEE BREAK Networking and activities
14:40 Alessandro Marsilli Ivel Restoration Project & chalk aquifer
15:00 John Bolton Anglian Water overview
15:20 Julia Beeden Water Resources Planning & the role of CP’s
15:40 Jon Balaam Q&A from afternoon session
15:55 Jon Balaam Closing remarks

We would like to thank all of the above speakers who gave their time to prepare and deliver a great set of engaging presentations.

This event was organised by the Upper & Bedford Ouse Catchment Partnership as part of our EA-funded Water Resources Collaboration & Engagement Project.