Ambition Two: We will play a leading role to help make our region's rivers even healthier
We aim to achieve this through working with landowners and partner organisations, achieving good ecological status and improving biodiversity.
Partnerships such as those with Wye & Usk Foundation, Trent Rivers Trust, Severn Rivers Trust, Catchment Sensitive Farming and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust have been key to helping us deliver our AMP6 catchment ambitions. Through these partnerships we are reducing agricultural run-off, such as pesticides getting into the water and polluting it, therefore improving river water quality, reducing treatment costs and improving the river environment as a whole. Our catchment team, alongside a range of moorland partners, have been successful in securing €16 million of EU support to deliver our targets in the Bamford catchment. Newly recruited agricultural advisers will play a vital role in engaging with farmers across 27 catchments, which is a core part of our catchment scheme delivery. The team have received a pleasing number of Severn Trent Environmental Protection Scheme (‘STEPS’) applications during their first farmer grant applicant window. The work is aimed at improving water quality in our catchments. Applicants have ranged from improved pesticide handling facilities to rainwater harvesting equipment. STEPS grants will be available to farmers in priority catchments annually until 2020. In 2016/17 we will continue to focus on farmer engagement specifically in groundwater catchments, setting up and running ‘Farmers as Producers of Clean Water’ and metaldehyde product substitution schemes in our surface water catchments.
In AMP6 we will be delivering our largest ever environmental improvement programme, spending over £300 million to deliver improvements to rivers throughout our region, a programme which is supported by our customers who wanted to see us do more to improve river water quality. Our investment programme seeks to contribute our fair share of the improvements needed to get targeted river lengths within our region to ‘good ecological status’, to support the WFD objective to get all water bodies (lakes, rivers etc) to this status. The majority of improvements are targeted at sewage treatment works to produce a higher quality effluent, which will in turn help improve river water quality. This investment will deliver new or improved assets onsite and involve complex capital schemes. We have worked closely with the Environment Agency in order to optimise the environmental benefits of our programme. We are also reducing abstractions by 85Ml/d from sources that are no longer environmentally sustainable.
Planning has been our primary focus this year to date, identifying all 11 SSSIs and Special Areas of Conservation that Severn Trent will be improving over AMP6, allocating specific projects to be undertaken to either improve or stop deterioration at each site and setting up monitoring processes. We have been working closely with Natural England to determine a methodology for capturing improved biodiversity and clarifying the details of our performance commitment, with the support of our customer challenge group, the Water Forum
Working with our project partners Keep Britain Tidy, the Environment Agency and the Canal and River Trust, we are proud to be supporting the WatersideCare volunteers to breathe new life into their local rivers and canals. There are over 50 community groups in the Midlands who work hard to improve their local environment by clearing litter from river stretches, increasing awareness of the effects of pollution, managing invasive species and monitoring their local aquatic environment. At the end of the fifth year of the partnership, they have cleared 7,606 bags of litter, removed 1,130 bulky items from waterways, and reported 48 suspected misconnections and 15 environmental crimes, giving an impressive 30,481 hours of their time to their local waterways.