Integrated catchment management of weirs

A weird on the River Don in Sheffield.
Weir on the river Don in Sheffield

Project background

This project is currently being undertaken as a PhD by URSULA/Catchment Science Centre student Ed Shaw.  The research is focused on the integrated catchment management (ICM) of weirs in the Don Catchment, using the concept of river ecosystem services (i.e. what benefits people get from rivers) as an evaluatory framework with which to assess different weir modification options.

Key findings

  • There are no weir modifications that improve the provision of all ecosystem services; rather, most improve the provision of some services at the expense of others.
  • The impact weirs have on river ecology is understudied, and has mainly focussed on their role as barriers to fish migration.
  • In contrast to conventional wisdom, weirs may have some benefits for riverine ecosystems, but more research is required to understand how important these are.
  • To mitigate the impact of weirs on fish migration in Don Catchment, a targeted approach is required if it is to be effective.
  • When conducting ICM, it is necessary to consider qualitative sociocultural values, such as the heritage value held by weirs.  Bayesian Networks provide a modelling approach that can deal with such subjective values.
  • Decision support tools are advocated as a way of facilitating learning in stakeholders. In an experimental setting, it was found one such tool led to reduced learning when compared to a map and rule-based approach.
A map of the urban river corridors area.
© Crown Copyright/database right 2011. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service. River layer kindly licensed from the Environment Agency.

Additional information

Site locations: See below for a list of the weir coordinates.

The coordinates

Funding: This PhD was jointly funded by ESRC and EPSRC

Acknowledgements: Prof. Eckart Lange and Prof. David Lerner, URSULA colleagues, ESRC abd EPSRC


  • Shaw E.A., Kumar V., Gill, L. Lange, E., and D.N. Lerner. 2011. Does it help? Testing the usefulness of a tool to aid Integrated Catchment Management, Proceedings of ISEM 2011, Beijing, China.
  • Shaw, E.A., Kumar, V., Lange, E., and Lerner, D.N., 2010. Bayesian Belief Networks and Social Objectives: A Canoeing Case Study, Proceedings of iEMSs 2010, Ottawa, Canada. p. 1439-1446, ISBN: 978-88-9035-741-1.
  • Shaw, E.A., Lerner D.N., & E. Lange. 2010: Where weirs were: A look at the benefits of weir removal. Proceedings of the River Restoration Centre 11th Annual Network Conference, 2010, York, UK, 127-136.

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