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What we're doing

image depicting Alleviating soil compaction at Drift Reservoir
Alleviating soil compaction at Drift Reservoir
The multi-award-winning Upstream Thinking partnership is working to improve water quality in the region's rivers.

A partnership of South West Water, the Devon Wildlife Trust, the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, the Westcountry Rivers Trust and the Exmoor National Park Authority is building on work begun in 2006 to change land management to protect rivers.

2015-2020 programme

The latest £11million programme focuses on 11 catchments across Devon and Cornwall in 2015-20. This represents an expansion of our 2010-2015 programme.

Upstream Thinking catchments 2015-2016

Advice and grants

The programme has two main elements: advice and grants for farmers and the restoration of peatland in partnership with landowners. The target for the programme is 750 farms and 1,300ha of moorland and other semi-natural land under revised management.

Grants are targeted at farms with land connected to rivers above water abstraction points. The aim is to reduce the amount of unwanted substances in river water, which in turn helps to control the cost of chemicals and energy needed to turn raw water into high quality tap water.

What's good for water is good for wildlife and people

Rag-out 2 - customer bills
South West Water Programme Manager, Dr David Smith, said: "We rely on our rivers, reservoirs, aquifers and moorland for our water supply and this vital resource can be significantly affected by the decisions made by landowners in the surrounding area.

"Just one tiny capful of pesticide can still be detected in river water 30kms downstream so we are working with farmers to improve pesticide storage and use, as well as other improvements that will keep things like slurry, nutrients and pollutants out of water courses.

"Upstream Thinking is a sustainable approach, working with the expertise of partners, the knowledge of farmers and nature itself to improve water quality. This keeps down costs for our customers and reduces the impact of water treatment on the environment, as well as providing better homes for wildlife."

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