Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

The Washes

The Ouse Washes were created in the 17th century by the excavation of the River Delph and Hundred Foot Rivers. Proper management of them safeguards the agricultural land outside and protects the wildlife within.

Normally, water flows along the Hundred Foot River. But when flows are high, the sluice at Earith opens and some water is sent down the River Delph. When the banks are overtopped water flows onto the Ouse Washes.

The Washes area is 30km long and 700m wide. Storage of flood water there prevents inundation of adjacent farmland and property. Welmore Lake Sluice lets water into the Hundred Foot River once the peak flows and high tides have passed.

Scrub, brush and woodland would impede the flow from one end to the other, so the land is grazed. This suits the birds as well as the engineering needs of the Washes, to the extent that the area is internationally recognised as an important habitat.

'You can't really say that the purpose of the Washes is for one or the other now,' says resident engineer Mike Wakelin. 'It suits everybody's purpose to keep it this way.'

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.