Background

This project is trying to tackle some of the major issues and challenges blocking water bodies achieving Good Ecological Status. We aim to do this by accelerating the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, which, if implemented correctly, will radically change the fate of our water bodies, ensuring water is managed sustainably for people and nature.

Read more about the Water Framework Directive and other policy frameworks and approaches:


In October 2000, the Water Framework Directive (WFD) was adopted by the EU and came into force in December 2000. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters (rivers and lakes), transitional waters (estuaries), coastal waters and groundwater to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems meet Good status by 2015.

In the UK, the Directive became law in 2003. We believe it has the potential to improve the health of our rivers but implementation has so far been inadequate. WaterLIFE aims to accelerate the implementation in five catchments and then share these successes so it can be repeated elsewhere.


Every six years, the Environment Agency produces River Basin Management Plans for each of the 10 river basin districts in England and Wales as requirement of the Water Framework Directive. These plans, drawn up in consultation with organisations and individuals, set out the measures that will be taken to ensure water bodies reach Good status.

The Catchment Based Approach is a way to improve the management of the country’s freshwater environment. This approach brings together different groups and organisations at the catchment level, which is where many of the problems facing our rivers begin – from diffuse pollution to over abstraction. These individuals and organisations range from NGOs, water companies, local authorities, government agencies, landowners and academia, and form catchment partnerships. There are over 100 partnerships across England and the Welsh borders, each working towards a common goal – to improve the management of the freshwater environment.

The WaterLIFE project team will work with the catchment partnerships in three of our demonstration catchments to engage civil society groups. These existing groups and networks will be very valuable to the project.

For more information about CaBA and its achievements, visit the CaBA website.


Put simply, water stewardship is about helping businesses to understand the impact their operations have on the wider water environment and enabling them to contribute to the responsible and sustainable management of freshwater resources. One of the most important aspects is businesses committing to the sustainable management of shared water resources through collective action with other businesses, governments, NGOs and communities.

This will lead to increased improvement in water use and a reduction of water-related impacts in the supply chain.


England is home to the majority of the world’s iconic chalk streams. 224 are found here and are characterised by gin clear, alkaline waters, meandering gravel channels, beds of water crowfoot and vibrant green starwort.

Chalk streams are important for our ecology, culture and economy. Their clean, alkaline, oxygenated flows provide optimal habitats for a number of iconic and indicator species such as trout, salmon, water crowfoot, fish fry and lots of invertebrates.

Not only do these rivers support this vast array of life, they are a quintessential part of the English landscape. Four are protected under the European Habitats Directive as Special Areas of Conservation and eight are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. If we don’t protect them, then we are at risk of losing these cultural gems and, with them, part of our heritage.

Chalk streams are also crucial to our economy. They are used to supply water to homes, businesses and agriculture (irrigation, watercress and fish farming) and the water meadows help reduce the effects (and therefore the cost) of flooding.


WWF-UK, Coca-Coca Great Britain and Coca-Cola European Partners are working together to ensure a thriving future for England’s rivers. The partnership, which runs from July 2015 to June 2018, will see the three organisations significantly scale up previous efforts to tackle the impacts of agricultural pollution on water and protect England’s unique chalk streams.

Currently 77% of our chalk streams are failing to reach good health. Together, the organisations are supporting farmers in East Anglia to improve the way they manage their land and reduce the impacts of production on the freshwater environment. Improved practises will help improve the resilience of agricultural supply chains. The work will be showcased to drive further collective action by communities, government and other businesses. The partnership will also bring together others in the supply chain to support widespread adoption of water sensitive farming and promote the positive role that businesses can play in water stewardship approaches.

Through the WWF & Coca-Cola Freshwater Partnership, Coca-Cola is providing WWF-UK with the funding and business support to demonstrate Water Stewardship in the UK and explore it across Europe through WaterLIFE, which is working with government, communities and business in five catchments in the UK to improve the health of our rivers for the benefit of people and wildlife. Lessons will be shared across the rest of the UK and Europe so that others can do the same.