Corporate Responsibility

Catchment management projects.

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During 2017/18 we’ve continued to explore more sustainable ways to reduce the amount of pollutants like pesticides and nitrates which get into the rivers and groundwater sources in the catchments where we abstract water. This ‘catchment management’ approach aims to tackle the problem of pollution at source, avoiding the need for additional water treatment which would affect the environment and our customers’ bills.

Catchment management today.

We know that catchment management can offer better value or bigger benefits than more traditional capital investment solutions. That’s why we’re managing a wide range of catchment projects across our region, in partnership with a vast number of stakeholders.

For projects focusing on mitigating pesticide pollution, we’re working closely with farmers, land managers, agronomists and the wider pesticide industry, to tackle metaldehyde pollution at source and prevent this pesticide from reaching watercourses. In turn, this will help to protect our sources of drinking water.

In autumn 2017, we ran projects across 20 catchments, working with roughly 300 farmers in the Thames Water region. Half of the projects involved replacing metaldehyde slug pellets with alternative ferric phosphate products, whilst the remainder of the projects were based on the Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) approach. PES makes payments to people who manage land or other natural resources in exchange for ensuring that the environment provides services like clean water. We’re now working in 25 catchments in readiness for autumn 2018, and we plan to expand our projects further in coming years.

Some of our most important current projects with farmers include protecting our sources of drinking water from pesticides like metaldehyde. Click on the case studies below to find out more:

Smarter water catchments.

The whole idea of catchment management has come a long way, but it still hasn’t been successfully implemented on a large scale with large numbers of stakeholders.

We believe that bigger benefits and better value can be achieved by seeing the environment as a system and tackling multiple challenges together, as well as recognising the benefits of harnessing natural processes and working on a wider scale. This is the premise of our Smarter Water Catchments initiative.

Smarter Water Catchments is a step change in our approach to catchment management, which will let us test how well this more holistic approach can work. This will involve a variety of very different but equally ambitious projects to address the kinds of challenges we face across our whole region.

We hope our new approach will also show how catchment management doesn’t just apply to the rural, upland areas where it was pioneered. That’s why we’ll be running a major project in London, the most challenging and complex of all our urban catchments. This will be particularly important in helping us to identify long-term solutions to the pressure that rapid population growth is putting on the capital’s wastewater infrastructure. Click on the case studies below to find out more:

You can find out more about our Smarter Water Catchments initiative on our website here.