Putting the wet into wetlands
Protecting the environment has been a vital part of South West Water's everyday work since the company was founded in 1989.
Our £1.5 billion Clean Sweep programme has modernised sewage treatment and helped clean up the region's bathing waters.
But we know we can't go on doing things the same way while the world changes around us.
For decades, the water industry has concentrated on what it terms 'end of pipe' solutions, building complex water treatment plants able to handle all kinds of pollutants.
Meanwhile, decades of urbanisation and more intensive land use, now coupled with the implications of climate change, has increased the risk of more pollution entering rivers upstream miles away from our treatment plants.
Surely, it would be better for the environment – and more cost-effective – in the long term to tackle that pollution risk at source?
That's exactly what South West Water wants to do in future but we can't do it alone.
Working closely with conservation groups, farmers and local authorities, South West Water is encouraging the conservation of wetlands, reducing run-off from fields into watercourses and stopping storm water from overloading sewers.
Recently, we have been working with the Westcountry Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and farmers to reduce run-off and improve water quality in streams running into the Upper Tamar Lake near Bude.
South West Water's Environmental Manager Martin Ross explained: "What we need now is 'Upstream Thinking' to slow down run-off from rural land and to protect sewers from overloading in urban areas.
"What has been done in the Upper Tamar catchment is an excellent example of the way ahead.
"We are developing a range of joint projects that will prevent fertilizer and soil loss from rural land, increase the extent of wetlands to improve river quality and moderate the effects of storms. We also want to create new areas of land alongside rivers to encourage biodiversity.
"Reduced treatment costs will result from cleaner rivers and better surface water separation in towns will help to control wastewater pumping and treatment costs, too.
"Ultimately taking this new approach might help create more stable water bills, reduce our carbon footprint and deliver a more sustainable environment for everyone in the South West."