River management generally refers to the systematic planning, development, and implementation of strategies, techniques, and actions to control, utilize, and enhance the natural resources and functions of rivers and their surrounding areas. It is a multidisciplinary approach that combines engineering, ecology, hydrology, economics, and social sciences to achieve various goals, including flood control, water supply, navigation, environmental conservation, and sustainable development.

Key aspects of river management include:

  • Flood Control: Rivers have a natural tendency to flood, which can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure. River management involves building flood control structures such as dams, levees, and dikes to regulate and mitigate flooding events.
  • Water Supply: Many communities rely on rivers as a source of freshwater for drinking, irrigation, and industrial purposes. Proper river management involves ensuring a reliable and sustainable water supply while considering the needs of various stakeholders.
  • Navigation: Rivers have historically served as important transportation routes. River management includes maintaining navigable channels, constructing locks and dams, and ensuring safe and efficient navigation for boats and ships.
  • Environmental Conservation: River ecosystems provide vital habitats for various plant and animal species. Effective river management seeks to balance human needs with ecological preservation, aiming to maintain or restore the natural functions of rivers and protect biodiversity.
  • Erosion Control: Unmanaged river flows can lead to erosion of riverbanks and nearby lands. River management strategies may include bank stabilization techniques, vegetation planting, and sediment control measures to prevent erosion and maintain stable riverbanks.
  • Water Quality: Pollution and contamination can degrade water quality in rivers. River management involves monitoring and regulating pollutants, implementing wastewater treatment systems, and promoting practices that prevent water pollution.
  • Recreation and Aesthetics: Rivers offer recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. River management can include creating public access points, developing recreational facilities, and preserving the natural beauty of river environments.
  • Sustainable Development: River management aims to balance the needs of various stakeholders, including local communities, industries, and the environment. It involves long-term planning and decision-making to promote sustainable development that benefits present and future generations.

River management is often a collaborative effort involving government agencies, environmental organizations, local communities, and experts from various fields. It requires careful consideration of the complex interactions between human activities and the natural environment to ensure the responsible and effective use of river resources.

On Smithston Water, the fishing, flora and fauna, above and below the water are enjoyed by everyone and overseen by an elected Committee and a contracted River Keeper. Much of the hinterland is managed by Carnochan Farm, mainly as pasture for sheep and cattle.