It has always been a close relationship and now it’s become even closer after it was announced that the North West’s water company has brought a Rivers Trust employee into its fold in the first secondment of its kind in the UK.
Dan Turner from the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust is spending 18 months with the company in a bid to identify ways that the two organisations can work even more effectively together to benefit the raw water quality of the region’s rivers.
The environmental science specialist is working two days a week at the Warrington-based firm in its environment and asset strategy natural capital team so that he can better understand how water companies work, help identify and deliver catchment interventions and find ways for the two organisations to work collaboratively to deliver common objectives.
Dan explained: “We share a lot of similar objectives as we’re both striving for healthy water environments. Clean water is a key investment driver for water companies, and the approach has traditionally been to tackle any issues through civil engineering solutions or chemical treatment processes. But the tide is starting to turn, with some companies like United Utilities, wondering if this is the most effective approach.
“Rivers Trusts understand the importance of taking an integrated catchment approach to ensure a better water environment. The river and catchment cannot be decoupled. United Utilities is on the same page, looking at ways integrated catchment management can help to reduce the burden on treatment works, while also providing environmental, social and economic benefits.”
During his time with United Utilities, Dan will be working on several major projects including looking at the causes of flooding and how to stop it at source, reducing phosphates in catchments across the North West and working on the European Union’s Natural Course project.
James Airton, United Utilities’ natural capital strategy and planning manager, commented: “The role of this secondment is to break down the barriers which prevent better partnership working with the Rivers Trust movement.
“A healthy river can provide us with a host of benefits, and clean water is only part of it. The river catchment land itself provides us with flood management, produce from agriculture, biodiversity and open space for our customers to enjoy. All these benefits are interlinked and there’s an increasing awareness that if we are to improve our rivers we need to be thinking about both the water and the catchment as a whole.”
This secondment has been made possible by both organisations participating in the Natural Course project, an EU funded partnership project aimed at developing closer relationships between organisations to deliver more effective improvements in water quality.
United Utilities is keen for the secondment to help it develop its drive towards a more integrated approach to catchment management. To meet the challenges facing society there’s a need to deliver more resilient catchments that manage water effectively to prevent both drought and flooding. United Utilities is committed to assessing its catchments as a system rather than focusing on individual elements. It is using a Catchment Systems Thinking approach to understand the needs of the catchment as a whole and develop and deliver solutions that address these, improving the North West’s natural capital for future generations. Working with partner organisations, like the Rivers Trust, is crucial to being able to deliver this objective.
Notes for Editors
United Utilities is the UK’s largest listed water company and manages the regulated water and wastewater network in North West England – which includes Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside with a combined population of nearly seven million.
United Utilities’ headquarters are in Warrington. Its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 100 Index. In 2018 the company was awarded World Class Status in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the eleventh year in succession. In 2018 the company was also accredited with the Service Mark by the Institute of Customer Service.
The Rivers Trust
The Rivers Trust is the umbrella body for the rivers trust movement working to protect, promote and enhance our freshwater ecosystems for both people and wildlife. With the support of 60 member trusts across the UK and Ireland, it works on the ground, in the heart of the community, to promote a sustainable future for our river environments. For more information visit www.theriverstrust.org.