Guest blog by Severn Trent Water on catchment management, a key theme within Blueprint for PR19.
Over 2015-20, Severn Trent is investing £21 million in making environmental improvements through catchment management, including working in partnership with farmers and landowners to reduce agricultural run-off into rivers. Through partnership working, pesticides such as metaldehyde (a chemical often used to control slug populations) are prevented from entering watercourses. In addition to improving river quality, there will be a number of other benefits, such as a reduction in treatment costs and improvement in the river environment as a whole.
In 2016-17, Severn Trent’s agricultural advisors worked with over 1,200 farms. We are now on track to engage with 4,000 farms, covering over 10,000km2, by 2020.
We are also funding two catchment schemes for farmers to tackle diffuse pollution across the region:
A voluntary scheme funded by Severn Trent for livestock and arable farmers / landowners in priority catchments
- 50% grant funding up to a maximum of £5,000, to help farmers make land management and capital infrastructure improvements that benefit water quality and the environment
- Applicants can apply each year between January to mid-March until 2020
- Prioritisation given to measures that help reduce pesticides
- Over 500 applications have been received under this scheme.
- Metaldehyde reduction initiative to encourage farmers to adopt practices that help reduce metaldehyde in raw water
- Metaldehyde levels tested upstream and downstream of watercourses fortnightly from September until December each year, until 2020
- Farmers rewarded up to £8/ha on land planted with winter wheat and/or winter oilseed rape – payment dependent on the levels of water quality improvement
- In 2016, 26,000ha were signed up under this scheme.
To further support the catchment management approach, at Severn Trent we have been participating in the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA), working with others to address water quality issues. For example, we are involved in Moors for the Future, a project through which significant EU funding has been secured to undertake peatland restoration work around the Derwent Valley reservoirs.
Principal Catchment Management Scientist, Severn Trent Water