The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future


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Hydromorphology looks at the physical character and water content of water bodies including transitional waters, such as estuaries, lagoons and tidal sections of rivers. It also looks at how natural and human activity influences the water body and the ecosystems that they support. Good hydromorphological conditions support aquatic ecosystems (water flow and substrate that provide physical habitat for biota such as fish, invertebrates and aquatic macrophytes). Hydromorphological pressures include abstraction, impoundment (i.e. dams and weirs), channelisation and embankments.

The UK Marine Strategy sets out how the UK will achieve its vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse oceans and seas and how it will move towards reaching Good Environmental Status (GES). If achieving GES would require changes to a water body’s hydromorphology that would have significant adverse effects on its social or economic activity, then it can be designated as a 'heavily modified water body'. These water bodies have to achieve an alternative objective of good ecological potential (GEP).

Solent Context and Issues

The Solent is classified as a 'heavily modified waterbody' (HMWB) due to its social and economic uses. HMWB uses include:

For the Solent, the objective is for the waterbody to achieve Good Ecological Potential (GEP). GEP takes into account the constraints imposed by the effect of physical alterations upon a water body’s hydromorphology and consequently upon its biology.

Please see Solent Waterbody in the catchment data explorer for more information.


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