The River Welland rises west of Market Harborough, flowing 65 miles to the Wash, picking up the Glens catchment from the north. From the rolling hills west of Stamford, the character of the river changes to a fenland river below Stamford, and a tidal river at Spalding, before discharging to the Wash. The catchment is largely rural, but includes Market Harborough, Stamford, Spalding, north Peterborough, and Bourne. Mixed farming predominates in the catchment, but below Stamford arable and market gardening predominates on the fenland. Water management in this area is shared by the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards.
The Welland catchment is an important surface water source of public water supply. Rutland Water, the largest man-made reservoir in England, provides water for the urban areas of Kettering, Northampton and Peterborough. The site is also important for wildlife and recreation. The Glens catchment provides a source of potable groundwater and water for agriculture. The rivers Welland and Glen are popular with anglers, containing typical coarse fish populations and trout. Otters are becoming increasingly common.
During the 1970s, much of the Welland catchment was altered as part of a flood alleviation and land drainage programme. This changed the natural flow of the river and the efficient land drainage has led to loss of habitat. Due to these modifications it has been hard to achieve good status; however, improvements can be made. In the Fens the river has been modified to protect agricultural land from flooding and is integral to flood protection.
The Environment Agency’s Catchment Data Explorer has been constructed to provide up-to-date information on the status of all the water bodies in the catchment being monitored under the EU’s Water Frameworks Directive. This is central to driving priority action by the partnership and can be accessed here.