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Forming an alliance for the environment

by Sarah Mukherjee | Shared x 1

Supporting a plethora of mosses on Exmoor, providing grouse with somewhere cool and boggy to live, or helping farmers use pesticides more efficiently and cost effectively - the water industry has a good story to tell when it comes to catchment management.

This week Water UK hosted an event which brought farmers’ leaders, agrichemical organisations, regulators, environmental groups, European policy makers and members of the water industry from across the UK together to consider the best way forward for using the environment to help provide cleaner, better quality water.

Catchment management can mean working with nature, allowing ecology to do the work of a treatment plant. Restored peatlands suck water up like a sponge, slowing down the water’s progress and reducing the risk of flooding downstream. This allows impurities to filter out and ensures that less sediment is caught up in the waterflow, which in turn means less is deposited downstream or in reservoirs.

But catchment management can also mean working with our partners in the community, helping those who manage their fields and farms to decide upon the best time to use their fertilisers and weed inhibitors, meaning fewer chemicals end up in watercourses and less water treatment is needed.

Although fairly new, many schemes are already showing signs of success, and the industry is aware that regulators now need a framework with which to judge the potential of future projects Those attending last night’s event heard that the industry’s research body, UKWIR, is working in this area.

There are also potentially challenging times ahead, with CAP reform possibly having an impact on the economics of some catchment management schemes. Those attending the event agreed to work together to find areas of common interest and agreement, to support work both in the UK and in Europe.

The water industry will be developing and leading policy in this area with a view to engaging partners in the coming weeks and months.

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