WaterLIFE was a three year project that ran from July 2014 to June 2017 and was funded through the EU’s LIFE+ Programme for the Environment.

It was led by WWF-UK, The Rivers Trust and Westcountry Rivers Trust, and with a wide range of delivery stakeholders.

From a starting point in 2014 of just 17% of UK rivers at Good Ecological Status under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), WaterLIFE delivered on the premise that the threats facing our rivers cannot be solved by one organisation alone: communities, business and government must work together to deliver change. It sought to:

  • Accelerate the implementation of the WFD and improve the freshwater environment.
  • Work with communities, business and government agencies to deliver exciting initiatives in five demonstration catchments in England and Wales.
  • Share these successes across the UK and Europe so they can be repeated by others elsewhere.

The project delivered much over its three years, including:

  • Shaping water abstraction and other policy areas for the future, with a particular focus on England’s unique chalk streams.
  • Developing new and innovative catchment-scale initiatives – ranging from data platforms to profile-raising catchment branding.
  • Upscaling these initiatives and wider findings regionally, nationally and into Europe.
  • Enhancing business stewardship of the water environment.
  • Strengthening and growing the Catchment Based Approach.

To communicate and disseminate our project findings and learnings, we have built these into WaterLIFE legacy pages on the website of the Catchment Based Approach. Nearly 40 reports, case studies, films, guidance notes and “top tips” are available to download; woven together by a narrative that targets audiences across three themed areas:

The WaterLIFE Declaration

Through WaterLIFE, we learnt what conditions are needed to achieve our vision of healthy rivers for people and nature. The WaterLIFE Declaration set out three principles to deliver these conditions:

Partnership

Support and investment in the Catchment Based Approach, recognising catchment partnerships are an essential basis for collaborative action and impact at all scales.

Equity

Through its new abstraction and agricultural policies, the government must create a level playing field and ensure environmental protection across England and Wales.

Collaboration

All sectors working together openly, honestly and without blame, to develop shared, evidence-based and deliverable solutions.

By the end of the project, it was signed by over 100 businesses, government agencies, national NGOs, rivers trusts and catchment partnerships.

Download The Declaration