GroundworkWe have an important role to play in tackling some of the big environmental issues facing our region, from flood prevention to improving coastal water quality.

Many of these issues are complex and broad-ranging, however, and our efforts have to be continually balanced against our customers’ number one priority – affordable bills both now and in the future.

To make our budgets stretch further, and to achieve substantial results, we rely heavily on partnership working – teaming up with a diverse range of organisations who share our passion for protecting and enhancing the environment.

Key partnerships in 2013/14 included:

Groundwork: we continued to work in partnership with the social and environmental charity Groundwork to deliver community projects in neighbourhoods where our engineers were working on potentially disruptive capital schemes. Last year, this partnership delivered 32 new bespoke projects including training and employment programmes, play areas, community allotments, sustainability programmes and community cohesion projects. In the process, we benefitted over 52,000 stakeholders, engaged with 161 individual organisations and delivered positive social impacts in every local authority region in the North West of England.

BeachCare: this joint project between ourselves, Keep Britain Tidy, the Environment Agency and local volunteers continued for another successful year. BeachCare tackles unsightly litter on our coastlines, and encourages local hoteliers and businesses not to put unsuitable materials down the loo or sink, to avoid sewer blockages. Last year, the group devoted over 2500 hours to beach clean-ups and local awareness events. More than 1500 bags of litter were collected.

Moors for the Future: this decade-long, wide-ranging partnership, focusing on moorland restoration, continued into its penultimate year. We remain a key partner, helping to improve the region’s moorland, especially catchment land which feeds our reservoirs.

RSPB: we continued to work across the region in a variety of different ways with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. For example, at Dove Stone reservoir in Saddleworth, we have a stunning, jointly-owned nature reserve and we continued to develop plans to improve the visitor experience at this popular tourist location. On our catchment lands in Bowland, Lancashire, we have worked with the RSPB to create the conditions for the threatened hen harrier to survive. We are delighted that these efforts are paying dividends – with two pairs breeding this year for the first time in two years.

CatchmentWise: learning lessons from our award winning water catchment management programme (SCAMP), CatchmentWise is an important new programme that sees us support local groups and projects focused on improving water quality by tackling pollution at source.

Canal and Rivers Trust: we began a new employee volunteering partnership this year with the Canal and Rivers Trust by adopting a stretch of the Llangollen Canal near to our water treatment works at Hurleston, Cheshire. We extract drinking water from this canal to serve nearby Crewe and Nantwich. We are helping to preserve the canal and work with local landowners to make sure their land management practices don’t put the quality of water in the canal at risk.

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