The Crane Valley Partnership
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Posted by Ilse Steyl Posted on 2018-06-18

Lower River Crane Flow Improvement Project - Interim Update

The lower River Crane improvement project is now halfway through the year-long test of the new settings on Mereway weir. The Environment Agency changed the settings on Mereway weir on 29 November 2017 to divert more water from the lower Duke of Northumberland's River to the benefit of the lower River Crane during dry spells. Since then both rivers have been monitored by the Agency using fixed point photography, with the help of a team of local volunteers. During December adjustments to the settings were continued, as the setting initially chosen was too high, and there was a further issue with the weir sending pulses of water down the lower River Crane rather than a steady flow.

The weir has been operating as planned since early January. There has been frequent rain over the winter and spring, so we are still waiting to see how the system responds during extended dry spells. However, we have had a few short periods of dry weather during which there has been a healthy flow of water in the lower River Crane. The step change in river levels at Marsh Farm gauging station since the start of the test can be seen clearly by comparing the lowest levels up to November 2017 with those since January 2018:

Gauge Levels - Marsh Farm

Photo monitoring is yielding valuable results. Before and after comparison of the lower River Crane just downstream of the gauging station on 4 October 2017, and then on 8 May 2018 are included below. On both of these days, river levels upstream at Cranford Park gauging station were similarly low – the improvement in the lower River Crane is plain to see.

Lower River Crane before lowring
Mereway Weir after lowering
Lower River Crane - 4 October 2017 (photo on left) & Lower River Crane - 8 May 2018 (photo on right)

Meanwhile, the Duke of Northumberland's River shows no obvious negative impact – compare before and after photos of the reedbeds downstream of Whitton Dene (close to Mogden) on the same dates.

Lower River Crane before lowring
Mereway Weir after lowering
Lower DNR - 4 October 2017 (photo on left) & Lower DNR - 8 May 2018 (photo on right)

It remains to be seen whether these signs of improvement to the flows in the River Crane will continue over the summer as we get more sustained periods of dry weather. However, we are hopeful and look forward to updating you in due course.