Through Catchment Wise partnerships, we’ll aim to consider all sources of pollution in a catchment so that water quality objectives can be met in the most sustainable way. For our part, this also means we can ensure value for money for our customers. Paul Henbrey, Catchment Wise Manager

We are one of many organisations in the North West with a commitment to improving the quality of our rivers and bathing waters.

As part of this commitment, in 2013/14 we launched a new initiative called Catchment Wise – designed to tackle water pollution at source.

Unlike our own catchment land initiatives, where we are effectively in the driving seat, this programme is more geographically diverse, seeking out potential sources of water pollution across the North West, whether we own the land or not.

Inevitably, partnerships are key to achieving this objective, with United Utilities acting as a facilitator – helping local initiatives to get off the ground and flourish.

To kick the project off, we provided match funding to the North West’s 16 catchment partnerships - groups of local stakeholders (e.g. landowners, local authorities and anglers) with a vested interest in improving water bodies in their catchment. The groups, which were set up by Defra, are already doing some great work, and our support will help to sustain this activity.

Catchment WiseWe also put out a call for local projects focused on improving water quality through behavioural change or land management – with the offer of funding for the most promising initiatives.

We had a fantastic response - with the fund oversubscribed by nearly three times. Applications were assessed by a panel comprising experts from our business and the Environment Agency. We’ve agreed to support 16 projects across the North West, which will be implemented over the next 12 months.

Through Catchment Wise, we are also seeking to get involved in more complex, long-term projects which achieve our water quality objectives. To this end, we recently agreed to support a project involving the West Cumbria Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England, to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering streams feeding the River Ellen.

You can keep up to date and find out more on the Catchment Wise website.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews