Published: April 25, 2012
In photos: Water Minister makes visit to Somerset wetlands

Water Minister Richard Benyon this week visited the Burnham-On-Sea area to see work being undertaken by the Somerset Drainage Boards to manage water in the county's wetlands.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries was shown around several parts of Sedgemoor on Tuesday (April 24th) where the Parrett Drainage Board has modernised water level management systems for wetland wildlife and farming.

Phil Brewin, from the Highbridge-based drainage board told "We have been working with farmers, and conservation organisations like the RSPB, to change the way we manage water in important wetlands on the Levels."

"This has taken a long time to achieve, but we are finally seeing the benefits of having more flexible and efficient water management systems for responding to both droughts and floods."

Despite heavy rain in recent days, the visit coincided with increasing concerns about environmental drought.

The RSPB's Tony Whitehead added: "With an environmental drought declared recently, everyone is keenly aware how precious water is and the RSPB welcome calls for its wise use."

"The drainage boards have done a lot of good work recently to ensure water is where it needs to be on the Levels, working for both wildlife and for farmers. The RSPB congratulates them, and welcomes the minister’s endorsement through this visit."

"The last two years have been exceptionally dry and if the drought continues, it will start to take its toll on wetlands in the region with dry conditions threatening to impact this spring's breeding season in places such as the Somerset Levels. These are some of the last remaining homes in our countryside for breeding water birds such as snipe, redshank and lapwing."

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