Improvements on River Slea to boost water flow and habitats

River Slea
River Slea

Plans have been announced to revitalise the River Slea by narrowing its channel and undulating the riverbed to boost the stream habitat.

A public meeting was held at the Electra Club in Sleaford last Wednesday to unveil the scheme by the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust and feedback so far has been positive.

The trust aims to work on the section of the Slea that runs through the town starting near the allotments from the old railway bridge to the new railway bridge, before moving on to the section down to the Castle Causeway.

It also hopes to work on the top section of West Banks.

Fiona McKenna, project officer for the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust, explained: “The aim is to improve the in-stream habitat by narrowing the channel without altering the existing banks.

“This is done by introducing well secured brushwood berms (bundles of brushwood), digging out a low flow channel and redistributing existing river bed materials to create more diversity in depth of the river bed.

“The Anglo Saxon name for the area translates roughly as ‘the muddy one’ so the river Slea has never been a fast flowing or big river.

“But it has deteriorated over time through being straightened and widened.

“The scheme will alter the flow of water, increase oxygenation and allow silt to collect and be trapped in the brushwood structures.

“These woody materials also provide excellent shelter for young fish, helping to keep gravels free of silt, therefore creating a better habitat for fish spawning and reducing the risk of invertebrates and fish eggs being smothered by fine silt.”

The work to the river bed will be done by small diggers, which means that it can be done without removing any water from the river, by ‘dumping and redistributing’ the earth.

Following consultation with the Environment Agency, the trust hopes to start the work by the end of the month or start of September and estimates it will take 
approximately one to two weeks to complete the first two sections of the scheme.