The Environmental Sustainability Award: South West Water

Longlisted for a Business in the Community Responsible Business Award 2018 

Action and Impact
In the first project of its type in the UK, Upstream Thinking is the flagship environmental programme of South West Water (SWW), designed to keep drinking and bathing waters clean and affordable by stopping pollutants entering our rivers and streams.

In a unique partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust and Exmoor National Park Authority, the programme is about the management of water catchment that will benefit the water going into 15 treatment works and supplying 72% of the region’s tap water.

The scheme will boost the resilience of the catchment, improving water quality, flows, habitat quality, assurance of supply and making sure there are fewer pollution incidents.

Investment in natural capital rather than capital engineering solutions enabling a range of measures will help to prevent downstream flooding and boost upland habitat restoration. It is hoped that this will reduce the need for energy for treating water, lowering the carbon footprint of the business.

“This provides a very positive cost-benefit analysis of how to invest in natural capital, and put off the next investment in a reservoir,” says Chris Loughlin, CEO of Pennon Group which owns SWW.