Diggers on the River Ems, West Sussex

Andy Thomas, WTT Conservation Officer, is busy directing operations with 360 excavators and dumper trucks on the River Ems in West Sussex.

river ems creating pools

The diggers are being used to create 300m of sinuous channel with pools and shallow riffles that will support enhanced diversity of flora and fauna, including trout, and which will function over a wide range of flow conditions. The works are designed to make the most of the flow augmentation provided by Portsmouth Water in the late summer and autumn. 

The Ems is a natural winterbourne with some of the upstream reaches naturally drying out during dry summer months as the groundwater springs subside after autumn/​winter rainfall. The river is currently in poor ecological condition due to abstraction pressures and man-made obstructions that limit fish passage up and down the system. The prospects for augmenting flow to offset abstraction pressures through this reach in combination with channel shape modifications provides opportunities for restoring a high quality chalk stream capable of supporting a healthy and diverse ecology

The project is funded by Portsmouth Water and is being delivered by the Wild Trout Trust working in partnership with the Arun & Rother Rivers Trust (ARRT).

The Ems before work started — a straight channel with no variation in depth

ems before

Using an excavator to create a more sinuous channel 

digger creating pools

The new channel, awaiting planting and augmented flows

new sinuous channel