It means working hand in hand with nature and our partners in the catchments to protect water for our customers and the environment.
What is a catchment?
A catchment is an area where water is collected by the natural landscape – it can be a river water catchment or groundwater catchment.
The quality of our drinking water is heavily influenced by activities within these catchments. About 70% of the water we supply comes from groundwater (water stored underground in aquifers), 23% is abstracted from rivers and 7% comes from our reservoirs.
We have 98 groundwater catchments, 10 river catchments and four reservoir catchments in our region.
What is catchment management?
Our work is about taking steps to manage potential risks to help improve the quality and quantity of water in our catchments.
As water flows through a catchment, activities on the land can affect the quality and quantity of water available. The sort of activities which could pose a risk include run-off from roads, leaking sewers, farming practices and private and public abstractors.
We’re committed to supplying high-quality drinking water, and the level of treatment needed for it to reach this standard depends on the quality of the water source. The more water quality is impacted by human activity, the more we have to treat it. This increases the costs to our customers, requires more chemicals, uses more energy and increases our carbon footprint. It is better for our customers, society and the environment if we manage the causes of water quality issues rather than treat the symptoms.
We can do this in many ways, but we have found we get the best results from working in partnership with other organisations and landowners. Together, we can develop solutions to improve urban and agricultural land management, reduce risks to water quality and river flows, and create sustainable drainage to cope with heavy rain.
Traditionally, water companies have solved water quality issues by investing in treatment processes.
However, we are increasingly realising that working in the catchments to address the cause of water quality and quantity issues is a much more sustainable approach.
Taking a more natural, catchment-focused approach is better value in the long term, helping to keep water bills more affordable.