The Water Framework Directive is a piece of European legislation that states that all UK waterbodies (rivers, lakes, seas) must be in ‘good ecological status’ by 2027.

The ‘ecological status’ of a stretch of river is measured by looking at a number of things which affect the health of a river, including:

For each category, the river is graded either 'Bad', 'Poor', 'Moderate', 'Good' or 'High'. The entire stretch of river takes its classification from the worst result in these categories; for example, if the river is achieving 'Good' status for everything except its fish populations, which are classed as 'Bad', the entire stretch will be classified as 'Bad'.  This ensures that work can be targeted towards tackling the reason (or reasons) a river is failing to meet Good Status, e.g. its fish populations.

The chart below shows the most recent (2012) Water Framework Directive classifications for the Stort. The projects outlined in this Catchment Management Plan will help to move the river into Good Ecological Status.

WFD Flow Status

The Environment Agency also routinely measure flow levels as part of their assessment of the river’s Water Framework Directive status. The results of these flow measurements are also shown in the chart.If the river has ‘passed’ the assessment (shaded green), there is enough water in the river to sustain its ecology. If it has ‘failed’ (red), there is not enough water to support its ecology.

Section of riverDescriptionEcological status 2012Categories failing to achieve Good Ecological Status (i.e. ranked Moderate, Poor or Bad)Flow status 2012
Upper River Stort Stort (at Clavering) Moderate Phosphate, Macrophytes Pass
Middle River Stort Stort (Stanstead Brook to Farnham Brook) Poor Phytobenthos, Flow, Phosphate Fail
Upper Navigation Stort Navigation (through Bishop's Stortford) Bad Phytobenthos, Macrophytes, Flow, Oxygen, Phosphate Fail
Lower Navigation Stort Navigation (near Sawbridgeworth Lock) Poor Phytobenthos, Fish, Phosphate Pass

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