Lee Valley Regional Park

Park Development Framework

Return to homepage

Water

Where are we now?

Water is one of the defining features of the Lea Valley; the watercourses and water bodies of the valley have a long history of supporting activities within the valley.


We have identified five main areas of focus for the future management of water within the Park.

1. Water Quality

Current water quality in a number of water courses within the Park, and particularly in the lower Lea catchment is poor. Poor water quality reduces biodiversity, detracts from the landscape (sight and smell), and is detrimental to the recreational and leisure use of the Park. Responsibility for improving water quality lies with a number of organisations and agencies, including the Environment Agency, Thames Water, British Waterways, local authorities, as well as individual landowners.

2. Flood risk management

Climate change is expected to increase the probability of flooding through a combination of intense rainfall and rising sea levels. The Lee Valley plays a vital role in the managing flood risk in the region; many of the water bodies, watercourses and open spaces within the Park provide capacity for floodwater storage. The flood management network is largely owned and operated by the Environment Agency, however many of the water bodies and watercourses that form the flood management network are owned and managed by others, including us.

3. Waste water management

The Lee Valley is pivotal in the management of wastewater across north London and Hertfordshire. Major sewage treatment works are located in, or adjacent to, the Park, at Rye Meads and Edmonton. In addition, Abbey Mills Pumping Station (through which the majority of north London’s sewage flows) is located adjacent to the Park at Abbey Mill. The wastewater network is owned and operated by Thames Water.

4. Potable water supply

The Lee Valley has a long tradition of supplying drinking water for London. Water supply infrastructure is an important feature of the Park, including the New River (dating from 1600’s) and both historic and contemporary water treatment sites. A series of reservoirs constructed at various times through the 19th and 20th centuries, provide not only a significant proportion of London’s water but offer some of the largest open water bodies and spectacular landscapes in London. The potable water supply network is owned and operated by Thames Water.

5. Transportation

The River Lee has a long history as a transportation route, tracing back into antiquity. Extensive development of the canal network in the 18th and 19th centuries supported the expanding industrialisation of the valley, and the waterways were used commercially right up until the 1980s.


The recent construction of Three Mills Lock on the Prescott Channel by British Waterways is intended to revive commercial transport on the Lee Navigation system; with particular focus on construction of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will also improve the regeneration potential of the area and opportunities for water based leisure and recreation.


Responsibility for maintaining navigation on the canal system lies with British Waterways.

What do we want to achieve?

  • To manage the future of water within the Park in such a way that it contributes to all the objectives of the Park;
  • Water is a key component of the Park’s offer as a visitor destination; providing a range of sport, recreation, social and community opportunities, and playing a key role in its biodiversity and landscape.

Water quality

We want the water quality of all watercourses and water bodies in the Park to be sufficient to allow leisure and recreational use, and to contribute to the biodiversity and landscape values of the Park

Flood risk management

We recognise the significant value of the flood management system and infrastructure within the Park. We want this network to meet both its functional requirements, and to contribute to the leisure and recreational, biodiversity and landscape values of the Park.

Waste water management

We understand the importance of the wastewater management infrastructure within the Park. We want a Park where the wastewater network is developed and managed effectively to deliver a wide range of values, such as improvements to biodiversity and the landscape.

Potable water supply

We recognise the importance of the potable water supply infrastructure within the Park. We want this infrastructure to be further developed and managed so as to improve access for leisure and recreational activities, and to nurture biodiversity and the landscape.

Transportation

We want a Park in which the navigation network is developed and managed to provide improved commercial use, and to be part of the delivery of values that include visitor infrastructure, leisure and recreation, biodiversity and landscape.

How will we deliver?

On our estate

We will:

  • Ensure that the future development and management of our open spaces and facilities delivers:
    • No net reduction in water quality or flood management capacity.
    • A positive contribution to improved water quality.
    • A net increase in flood management capacity (where possible).
    • Best practice in relation to wastewater management and water consumption.
    • Seek to maximize the efficient use of water where possible by reducing demand, introducing water efficient devices and systems in all new visitor facilities and retrofitting existing buildings where possible.

Working with others

We will:

  • Continue to work with partners to facilitate the delivery of a range of water management functions on our own estate, provided that these functions will:
    • Not compromise other Park functions or values (e.g. biodiversity, recreation, route network, landscape etc).
    • Where possible deliver merits over and above the identified water management benefits.
    • Be 100% partner-funded in relation to implementation and long term management, except where proposals relate entirely to our estate or facilities, or other benefits associated with the developments warrant our contribution

Water quality

We will:

  • Continue to encourage and work with the Environment Agency, Thames Water, British Waterways and other partners to deliver improvements to water quality. This will encompass all watercourse and water bodies, both in the Park and in the wider catchment of the River Lee and its tributaries. Delivery of actions identified in the Thames River Basin Management Plan will be a key focus for all partners.

Flood Risk Management

We will:

  • Continue to encourage and work with the Environment Agency, and other partners, to ensure the existing flood risk management infrastructure functions effectively.
  • Where possible expand and enhance the range of values offered, to include biodiversity, sport and recreation, visitor infrastructure and social and community benefits. Initiatives will include:
    • De-culverting (or daylighting) and naturalising water courses
    • River restoration
    • Providing additional water based recreational activities
  • Explore opportunities to utilise the estate’s open spaces and water bodies for flood risk management and additional flood storage capacity. Additional flood storage capacity should seek to expand and enhance the range of values offered by the Park.

Waste water management

We will:

  • Continue to encourage and work with Thames Water, and other partners, to ensure that the existing waste water management infrastructure functions effectively.
  • Work with Thames Water, the Environment Agency and other partners to minimise and mitigate any impact on the Park arising from new or increased capacity.
  • Where possible expand and enhance the range of values offered, including biodiversity, sport and recreation, visitor infrastructure and social and community benefits. Initiatives will include:
    • Improving quality of outfall from sewage treatment works.
    • Mitigating impact of combined sewer over flows.
    • Exploring opportunities for tertiary treatment of effluent through wetland systems.
    • De-culverting (or daylighting) and naturalising watercourses.
  • Overcome existing restrictions and barriers to access.
  • Explore opportunities to utilise the Park’s open spaces for ‘natural’ treatment of waste water. Any waste water treatment should expand and enhance the range of values offered by the Park e.g. creating new wildlife habitats.
  • Encourage the integration of Sustainable Urban Drainage schemes as part of multifunctional green infrastructure.

Potable water supply

We will:

  • Continue to encourage and work with Thames Water and other partners to maintain the existing potable water supply system and infrastructure.
  • Where possible expand and enhance the range of values offered, to include biodiversity, sport and recreation, visitor infrastructure, and social and community benefits. Initiatives will include:
    • De-culverting (or daylighting) and naturalising water courses and water bodies.
    • Overcoming existing restrictions and barriers to access.
    • Expanding and enhancing the visitor offer.

Transportation

We will continue to work with British Waterways and other partners to:

  • Maintain effective functioning of the navigation system and infrastructure for commercial use.
  • Ensure that the navigation system provides an appropriate balance of values offered by the Park, to include biodiversity, sport and recreation, visitor infrastructure, and social and community benefits.
  • Explore opportunities to enhance and support the commercial use of the navigation system (e.g. wharfs, bulk goods storage etc).

Water management

flash here
Link to home page