Farmyard manure, artificial fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides used on the land can end up in rivers, wreaking havoc on habitats and the quality of the water. Bad raw-water quality means more intensive and expensive treatment is required to get it to drinking-water standards.
Our multi-award-winning catchment-management scheme, Upstream Thinking, applies natural solutions to reduce this agricultural impact on biodiversity and water quality. It does so whilst supporting farmers and the rural economy, by providing long-term resilience to climate change.
Some of the activities include:
Thanks to Upstream Thinking work, by the time water reaches streams, rivers, and reservoirs, it is much cleaner. This allows the treatment process to be faster, cheaper, more efficient, and better for the wider environment because it uses less energy and carbon.
Improved soil quality in farmed fields, more trees planted in the right places, pastures rich in plant species and cleaner water in our streams, rivers and reservoirs, means a better home for wildlife. Many species have returned to the waterways that we’ve helped clean up.
Farmers have a huge role to play in keeping rivers and reservoirs clean and healthy, and it’s only with their support that we’ve been able to enjoy the benefits this programme has achieved so far.
Farmers who have engaged with Upstream Thinking have seen many benefits, including more nutrients left in the soil due to less run-off, healthier pastures to graze their animals in, and sponsored upgrades to their farms like fencing and silage storage.
We have committed to improving biodiversity across our sites through improvements in ground management. Where we’ve been building, developing or engineering, we leave these sites with a biodiversity net gain.
None of this would be possible without the help and dedication of our partners. Their support and determination in starting and continuing this work with us has seen a significant improvement on river-health across the South West.
The willingness of local landowners, farmers and volunteers to do the right thing for the land and water has made all this possible.