New advice to manage rivers

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UPDATED information on managing the island’s streams and rivers has been produced by the government.

The new Watercourse Management Guide replaces the outdated Manx Watercourse Managment Code and has been produced by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture’s river management project officer Karen Galtress.

The leaflet includes a code of practice for watercourse owners and tenants, details of relevant legislation as well as contacts and information on rights, responsibilities and management issues.

Mrs Galtress said: ‘Seeking information and consent early when planning works in or adjacent to watercourses not only avoids falling foul of regulations, it’s also an opportunity to gain advice on methods and practices beneficial to both the owners and wildlife of our rivers and streams.’

She can provide free advice to watercourse owners and tenants, including site visits, on a range of management issues such as bank protection and habitat enhancement, and is available for walks and talks for organised groups.

Under the Land Drainage Act 1934, owners or tenants of any type of watercourse must seek consent from the Flood Risk Management Team at the Isle of Man Water and Sewerage Authority (formerly the Land Drainage Section of the DoT) for instream or bank works at any time of year with the exception of routine management of vegetation. Examples of work needing consent would include riverbank engineering or protection and installation of bridges, pipes or cross-channel fencing.


Owners of streams designated by this act as main rivers must, in addition, get approval from the Water and Sewerage Authority if they want to erect structures or plant trees and shrubs within 30 feet either side of the stream bank.

Salmon and trout will currently be spawning in our rivers and streams so it is vital that owners and tenants of streams with a mostly stony bed postpone any works detrimental to the channel habitat.

As well as the potential for direct damage to spawning grounds, disturbance to stream channels and banks during winter can lead to the smothering of salmonid eggs by silt, and young fish fry remain vulnerable to such disturbance until mid-summer.

For this reason, disturbance of stream beds and alterations or repairs to their banks are rarely approved other than during the July to September period. Damage to fish and their spawning habitat can lead to prosecution under the Inland Fisheries Act 1976.

Factsheets on Japanese knotweed and Injurious Plants, including giant hogweed can also be downloaded from the web site.

The new leaflet can be downloaded from

A complementary leaflet – a Summary Guide to Stream Management – is also available from the same web address. This includes a map of the island’s main rivers.

Paper copies of the publications are available from the DEFA headquarters at St John’s or by telephoning 651544, or emailing karen.galtress(at)

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