Using Nature-Based Solutions To Tackle Water Pollution
South West Water provides drinking water and wastewater services throughout Cornwall, Devon, the Isles of Scilly and in small areas in Dorset and Somerset. When the water industry moved out of the public sector, South West Water inherited a system of reservoirs, treatment works, water mains and sewers that were outdated. Since then, they have invested £9bn in the region’s infrastructure and treatment works to modernise water services and protect nature for future generations.
Much of the drinking water in the West Country is sourced from surface water (rivers, streams, and reservoirs). However, these must be treated by South West Water to meet drinking water standards. Farming impacts water quality due to the release of nutrients and chemicals, as well as soil erosion. In the UK, it is thought that 75% of nutrients and sediments polluting water bodies are from farming*.
In collaboration with a group of regional conservation organisations, South West Water established Upstream Thinking, one of the largest and most innovative conservation projects in the UK. It aims to ensure potential sources of pollution are prevented from entering surface water, thus reducing the ongoing level of treatment. This in turn reduces associated chemical and energy use. Founded in 2006, the project has successfully restored and protected around 91,000 hectares of land in the region. The initiative involves working with the agriculture industry to ensure potential sources of pollution are prevented from entering rivers.
Business in the Community and Nature Stewardship
The flourishing of humans and business success are inextricably linked to the health of nature. Business in the Community (BITC) helps businesses take a stewardship approach to nature, building increased resilience in urban and rural landscapes. It also protects critical natural assets and helps to climate-proof businesses and communities.
Next step: contact Business in the Community’s Advisory Service Team
BITC Environment Advisers work with businesses to help them understand risks, opportunities and impacts related to the environment and set their business strategy. You can also access one-to-one advice, upskilling sessions, and training to support your teams to address environmental issues, and maximise the opportunities of aligning your strategy with effective nature stewardship.
* Global Food Security (2015), Agriculture’s impact on water quality, available under Publications on Global Food Security.