Publications and resources

It’s an exciting time to work in water. Keep track of all that’s going on in the project by downloading key WaterLIFE reports, leaflets, videos and other documents.

Blueprint for PR19

Teenagers sitting by the River Soar
Teenagers sitting by the River Soar
© Jiri Rezac 2015

We want to see healthy rivers, less pollution and thriving wildlife. Importantly, water company customers want to see this too. By 2027, three-quarters of our rivers and streams should be healthy. However, we have work to do: 13% of our freshwater and wetland species are at risk of extinction, only 20% of water bodies in England and Wales are at ‘good ecological status’, and the water industry is responsible for a quarter of all reasons rivers fail to meet the required health standards.

Over the next 18 months, water companies in England and Wales will be drawing up their business plans for 2020 to 2025, as part of the ‘Periodic Review 2019’ (PR19). In the last round of business plans, companies invested £42billion – which is why the business plans introduced in 2020 will play a pivotal role in the stewardship of the environment.

We are working as part of The Blueprint for Water to make sure nature is at the heart of these plans – after all, without a healthy water environment, companies would not have a product to sell.

We have four priorities that we want to see in the plans

  • Protect and restore catchments from source to sea.
  • Stop pollution from our waters.
  • Use water wisely and price water fairly.
  • Keep our rivers flowing and wetlands wet.

For more information about each priority, read our Manifesto for the Environment.

Why not ask your water company how they are planning on delivering for nature? Find your water company.

For more information about the campaign, visit for Blueprint for Water website.

3D modelling on the Salle Estate

Last October, silt traps were installed on the Salle Estate, which covers 2000 hectares in the Broadland Rivers catchment. These traps were designed to protect the Wensum, which is impacted by farm pollution.

The site sits within the University of East Anglia Demonstration Test Catchment area. As part of this project, drones have collected data from the silt traps and produced an impressive 3D model. This data will help sediment accumulation to be calculated. The idea is that more data will be collected in the coming months and years to enable the traps to be better monitored.

Poul Hoveson on the Salle Estate - Neil Aldridge/WWF
Poul Hoveson on the Salle Estate – Neil Aldridge/WWF


Silt traps installed in the CamEO

Six silt traps have been installed on the Euston Estate in the Cam & Ely Ouse catchment in East Anglia as part of our work to reduce the pollution affecting the chalk streams in East Anglia.

The project is designed to reduce run off from an outdoor pig unit as well as from rotational crops, such as sugar beet and maize. The area is on gradual sloping land with very light, Breckland soils which are prone to movement.

The project also includes installing road humps/cross drains across tracks and diverting the water into silt traps to stop the water running off onto a road. This way of stopping pathways has been very effective. The estate has also put in place large buffer strips and cultivated strips to reduce runoff.


Sill trap installed to collect run off from from outdoor pig unit

Silt trap on the CamEO

Road hump, designed to divert water from entering the watercourse

Road hump designed to divert the flow and prevent it entering the watercourse - Norfolk Rivers Trust

A swale, designed to collect the diverted flow 

Swale for the water to run into - Norfolk Rivers Trust

Working together for a healthy water environment

The Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) brings people together to think and enhance river catchments as a whole, as well as achieve the aspirations of local communities. More than 1500 organisations are now taking this approach in over 100 river catchments in England and Wales, and there have been many successes and achievements. To illustrate some of those achievements, the CaBA has developed a short booklet outlining its aims and work through a series of case studies.

CaBA: Working together for a healthy water environment

Volunteers in a bellboat clear rubbish from the river Soar at Leicester city.
Volunteers in a bellboat clear rubbish from the river Soar at Leicester city.
© Jiri Rezac 2015


Silt traps installed to protect the Wensum


We are working with farmers, businesses and local communities to reduce the agricultural pollution that affects East Anglia’s precious chalk streams. One of these farms we are working with is the Salle Estate in the Broadland Rivers catchment, which covers 2000 hectares.

For a decade the farm has been trialling different methods to reduce the impact of agricultural pollution on local rivers – such as relocating gateways and rainwater harvesting. Working with the University of East Anglia and Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board, we identified a site that was contributing to the run off entering the Blackwater Tributary which feeds the Wensum Special Area of Conservation (SAC). To prevent this silt eventually entering the Wensum, three silt traps have been installed which have been part-funded by Coca-Cola as part of the project. You can find out more about how Coca-Cola are involved here.

Silt trap locationsSalle Sediment Trap Areas © Norfolk Rivers Trust

Salle Sediment Trap Areas © Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board

How will this help?

This is good for the river as excess sediment and nutrients disrupt the ecosystem by blocking light, contributing to eutrophication and impacting upon the wildlife that relies on the river for survival. It is also good for the farm as those nutrients will remain on the land and enrich the soils instead of running off into the water course.

The sediment that is caught sits in the bottom of the trap until it is emptied every few years and put back on the fields, returning the nutrients to the soils.

As the site is within the University of East Anglia Demonstration Test Catchment area, they have and will continue to monitor the water quality. This will enable us to assess and evaluate exactly how the trap performs and the impact it has on the health of the river.


Silt trap being installed on the Salle Estate © Norfolk Rivers Trust
Silt trap being installed on the Salle Estate © Norfolk Rivers Internal Drainage Board



Becoming a good water steward

People standing on a riverband
Stakeholders in East Anglia © Greg Armfield/WWF

Businesses need water – but this is a resource they can no longer take for granted. The way we currently manage our water resources just isn’t sustainable. Growing populations and climate change add more pressure and makes future water supplies uncertain.

We have produced a short guide, which offers advice for operational staff in the food and drink industry, based on WWF’s water stewardship framework, to help ensure businesses become good water stewards.

Download Becoming a good water steward


Water Sensitive Farming in East Anglia

River Bure in Norfolk
River Bure, Norfolk © Hugh Mehta

In East Anglia, we are working with Norfolk Rivers Trust, the Cam & Ely Ouse and Broadland Catchment Partnerships and Coca-Cola to tackle some of the threats affecting rivers across the region.

Together, we are providing support to farmers and land managers to implement changes in land management that help to enhance soil quality to improve water efficiency, increase yields, and reduce both the likelihood and impacts of run-off pollution.

To find out more about how we’re delivering water sensitive farming in East Anglia, please read the catchment leaflet.

Working with farmers to deliver agri-environment initiatives

Farmer tends to his lands and livestock near the River Camlad
© Jiri Rezac/WWF-UK

Many farmers already engage in environment initiatives, such as Catchment Sensitive Farming and take voluntary action through Campaign for the Farmed Environment and The Rivers Trust pinpoint advice. Farmers also adhere to standards such as the LEAF Marque. Through WaterLIFE, we are working with farmers in East Anglia to implement water sensitive farming and reduce pollution affecting rivers.

To help farm advisors, businesses and others encourage more farmers to get involved in agri-environment initiatives, we have produced a guidance sheet, based on research as well as experience from working with farmers. The guidance offers quick and helpful solutions to overcome potential challenges, which may include:

  • The perception that what’s good for the environment is at odds with being productive
  • An expectation of criticism from environment groups
  • Concern about the longevity of funding for such schemes
  • Concern that such schemes will bring increased bureaucracy

Solutions for working with farmers to overcome these challenges:

  • Stress the agronomic advantage
  • Be crystal clear about the benefits to the farmer
  • Celebrate farming achievements and successes
  • Identify key agricultural champions

Download the guidance for more detailed information:

Encouraging farmers to get involved with agri-environment initiatives


Enhancing the impact of local community groups

Across the UK, hundreds of community groups are all working towards a shared aim – to improve the health of the water environment. They differ in size, shape and structure but their work is essential and has contributed to countless river and stream improvements, as well as benefited the people and wildlife that rely on them.

Enhancing the ability of community groups to get involved with on the ground projects, as well as influencing decision-making, will mean that change is not only accelerated but will be longer lasting. We have produced some helpful ‘top tips’ to help catchment partnerships identify the opportunities to work with community groups to increase their capacity, influence and impact.

Inspire, excite and simplify: Catchment partnerships have a key guiding role to play as to the range of opportunities and barriers to delivery of work on the ground, whilst also ensuring that associated technical information is understandable by all. Once groups have easy access to information, they will be more empowered.

Train groups to become citizen scientists: Citizen science is a fast growing and exciting area. Catchment partnerships can train groups as citizen scientists and increase their ability to collect, monitor and interpret data.

Work together to identify and submit funding bids: Securing funding can be a real challenge. Catchment partnerships can help to overcome these barriers by working with community groups to submit joint bids.

Identify ‘change agents’: There are key individuals in the Environment Agency, water companies, farming community and businesses who are really important to work with to make an impact. Catchment partnerships are well placed to identify these individuals and help community groups approach them.

Collaboration is key: Partnership working has many benefits – increased capacity, sharing of expertise and skills and additional funding. Community groups will often look to work with larger NGOs to increase their influence, and catchment partnerships can support this.

Download the full guidance: Enhancing the impact of community groups





Achieving success through partnerships

There are significant benefits to partnership working. It can lead to extra funding, bring in expertise and generate more buy in from people. WaterLIFE has been working in three UK catchments (the Soar, Camlad and Tamar) to increase skills and resources across the catchment partnerships in these areas so they are better equipped to improve the health of the water environment.

A how to guide for catchment partnerships

We have produced a how to guide for catchment partnerships designed to increase capacity within these organisations. The guide includes the essential ingredients to getting a partnership started, expanding a partnership, case studies to showcase best practice and successes, and also points to the tools available to partnerships.

The guide explores three essential steps:

Getting started – identifying relevant groups, building the partnership, gathering the data and evidence and developing targeted catchment plans.

People standing on a riverband
Stakeholders in East Anglia © Greg Armfield/WWF

Building momentum and broadening the partnership – deepening understanding about the issues that affect the catchment and empowering groups through citizen science.

Citizen science on the River Severn
Citizen science on the River Severn © Jiri Rezac/WWF

Create an identify and build an audience – widening your appeal, creating an identity and inspiring others.

Volunteers in a bellboat clear rubbish from the river Soar at Leicester city. © Jiri Rezac 2015
Volunteers in a bellboat clear rubbish from the river Soar at Leicester city. © Jiri Rezac/WWF

Download ‘Achieving success through partnerships to find out more.

Making space for water in the Trent

Over 70 representatives from across the Trent catchment attended the WaterLIFE workshop ‘Making space for water in the Trent’ to share ideas and discuss future challenges and opportunities. Letting the Dove flow, citizen science in the Peak District and ‘Love your River Stoke’ were just a few of the projects that were showcased on the day.

The workshop summary includes a round up of the discussions on the day, key outcomes, evaluation results and a link to the presentations.

Picture of the River Soar with trees on the bank reflecting on the water's surface
River Soar, Leicestershire © Jiri Rezac/WWF-UK


Water in the urban environment

Are there tangible benefits to improving green infrastructure in our towns and cities? How can partnership working overcome current challenges?  These were just some of the topics explored by a series of Defra funded ‘Urban Water Management’ workshops, supported by WaterLIFE. The workshops benefited from diverse participation with over 300 attendees from a wide range of organisations, including environmental NGOs, catchment partnerships, local authorities, water companies, community groups, the Environment Agency, Defra and Natural England.

Key lessons

Collaborative working yields multiple benefits: Including a range of organisations and expertise will increase opportunities, benefits and ultimately improve the water environment.

Challenges and solutions to collaborative working: Changing mindsets, increasing access to clear information and identifying hooks to interest partner organisations are essential to overcome challenges.

Sustainable water management needs to be integrated into local policies and plans: Incorporating sustainable water management into existing plans will make it easier to engage with groups such as local authorities and developers.

Local communities have a key role to play: Empowering local communities to co-deliver projects can increase their chances of being successful and sustainable.

More can be done to engage the business sector: This is an emerging area for many catchment partnerships as business realises its water risk and takes action to mitigate it.

Data and evidence are critical: Access and use of data and evidence is essential and helps in identifying issues, and implementing the necessary interventions.

Understanding of urban ecosystems services and natural capital is key: A healthy urban environment has many benefits such as increased well-being. These benefits and services need to be quantified and communicated.

Technical delivery: Partnership working often means access to a wide range of skill sets that can help tackle technical issues – such as misconnections and pollution.

European funding – collaborative large scale projects: This type and scale of funding lends itself to a partnership approach as it allows different organisations and expertise to be involved.

Te full report which explores these key lessons in greater detail and is available online: ‘Managing water in the urban environment: Key lessons from the UK’

A new housing development alongside the River Soar, Leicestershire
Water in the urban environment © Jiri Rezac/WWF-UK

Making the most of our waters

‘Making the most of our waters’ was a two-day workshop which brought together representatives from across Ireland to explore the role of partnerships in managing the water environment. WaterLIFE took part in this exploration and knowledge exchange to share its approach, experiences and achievements in delivering improvements to the water environment through partnership working.

The event was organised by LAWCO (Local Authority Waters and Communities Office), whose remit includes public engagement and knowledge sharing across the various groups working to improve the water environment through delivery of the Water Framework Directive. It offered a platform to:

  • Share WaterLIFE and Catchment Based Approach objectives, lessons and impacts to date
  • Provide UK collaborative delivery examples
  • Learn about recent developments in collaborative water management in Ireland

The ‘Making the most of our waters’ report reflects on the key findings that emerged from the workshop and identifies next steps.

Guidance: Engaging the public in the water environment

Individuals and communities play a crucial role in improving the water environment. Inspiring and motivating them to get involved – whether that be through raising awareness, providing volunteering opportunities or offering citizen science training – is essential.

WaterLIFE carried out research to explore the barriers stopping people getting involved, and what opportunities exist that groups, such as catchment partnerships, could take advantage of. Using the conclusions from this research, along with lessons from WaterLIFE campaigns such as Save Our Waters and My Tamar, we have produced five ‘top tips’, which are designed to help organisations, such as catchment partnerships, engage with individuals and communities.

Top tips in brief

  1. Understand your community
  2. Develop a varied offer
  3. Get the message right
  4. Keep it local
  5. Communication, communication, communication

To read more, download the guidance sheet: Understanding what motivates people to engage with the water environment.

The State of England’s Chalk Streams

Chalk streams are almost a uniquely English phenomena – but they are not healthy. In 2014, WWF-UK and WaterLIFE produced ‘The State of England’s Chalk Streams’ report, which found that 77% are failing to reach Good Status.

Download The State of England’s Chalk Streams report 

Update – chalk stream health

Subsequently, The Environment Agency changed how it monitored our rivers, including making changes to the standards and number of rivers monitored. To find out what this meant for our chalk streams, we commissioned APEM Consultancy to provide an update to chalk stream health.

Chalk Stream Health Update

A family cross a bridge over the River Itchen near Ovington Hampshire, UK
A family cross a bridge over the River Itchen © Andrew Parkinson/WWF-UK

Understanding the language of business

In our two Water Stewardship catchments (Broadland Rivers and the Cam & Ely Ouse), we are working with businesses and local partners to test and demonstrate how Water Stewardship can improve the water environment.

In early 2016, we commissioned research to better understand the language that engages, inspires and motivates businesses to get involved with Water Stewardship. We spoke to a mixture of business types from the food and drink industry, supermarkets, retail and manufacturing. From these conversations, we have produced four ‘top tips’ for organisations wanting to engage the private sector:

  1. Identify influential businesses and their drivers – Big supermarkets appear to be driving the Water Stewardship agenda and are influential in shaping the behaviour of food producers and growers. NGOs could encourage business engagement by translating the priories of influential businesses into actions in the catchment.
  2. Think global, act local – Businesses value building trusting long-term relationships with local partners, such as The Rivers Trust, as this helps them to think global but act local, and resonate with local communities and issues.
  3. Be ambitious – Many businesses are starting to think about using less water, but with NGO support they could think bigger and engage in Water Stewardship. WWF’s research showed that businesses value a clear and engaging narrative which sets out the problem and businesses role in solving it.
  4. Translate to implementable actions – WWF’s research showed that while there can be buy-in for Water Stewardship from senior business directors, those tasked with ‘doing it’ can be confused about what this means in practice. NGOs could support operational staff with examples of how targets could be achieved on the ground.

You can also download and share our tips for engaging with businesses.

The private sector and the water environment

At the recent European River Symposium in March 2016, we brought together representatives from across Europe to explore the potential for the private sector to play a role in improving the water environment through Water Stewardship. There were representatives from every part of Europe as well as the private, third and public sector.

The workshop sought feedback on the support WaterLIFE can offer to facilitate the understanding and implementation of two approaches across Europe:

  • The Water Stewardship approach, which encourages the private sector to engage in sustainable water management through collective action and by influencing governance.
  • The Catchment Based Approach, which brings together stakeholders from different sectors at the catchment level to collaborate to improve water environment.

After thoughtful discussion, some key themes emerged:

  • A need for more guidance
  • Targeted dissemination
  • The importance of governance
  • Measuring and demonstrating impact
  • Awareness of water risks

For more details about the session and key outcomes, please download the workshop report below.

Vienna workshop report

Vienna presentation


Workshop discussion
Workshop discussion


Severn River Basin Workshop

Over 80 delegates from 10 catchment partnerships in the Severn River Basin attended the workshop to celebrate success, share current work, ideas and best practice. It provided an opportunity to share lessons learnt across our three civil society catchments (the Camlad, Soar and Tamar) to date, and identify what tools would be useful for groups working across the Severn River Basin.

Workshop objectives:

  • To bring catchment partnerships together to celebrate current work across the basin and provide a platform to share ideas and best practice.
  • To update on WaterLIFE activities to date and explore how it can support the partnerships.
  • To facilitate discussions about the future for catchment partnerships in the Severn basin.

All delegates found the day useful and left with an increased understanding of what other catchment partnership were doing as well as how WaterLIFE could offer support. There is more information about the day, including outcomes and next steps, in the workshop report.

Severn River Basin Workshop Report

For more information about our civil society catchments, visit the where we work‘ page.

View of the River Severn from Worcester
View of the River Severn from Worcester

Sediment fingerprinting in the Soar

Working with the Environment Agency and University of Southampton, the Soar Catchment Partnership has been taking a closer look at the sediment across the catchment area of the Willow Brook.

Sixty samples of sediment have been collected across the catchment from farms, river banks, towns and drains. The samples are being analysed to create ‘finger prints’ of the different soil types. These finger prints will be compared against the finger prints of sediment that accumulate in Willow Brook, Leicester, to the south of the catchment, contributing to issues such as flooding and blocked drains. It shows how important it is to explore the role natural solutions play in tackling issues such as flooding. You can read more about natural solutions and flooding in our recent blog.

The results of the sediment fingerprinting will help to decide where action should be targeted across the Soar in the future to store and hold sediment to prevent it from causing these problems downstream.

This exciting piece of work is being funded by Leicester and Leicestershire Local Economic Partnership and Leicester City Council. The Catchment Partnership was able to access this funding by identifying a business risk and proposing a solution which delivers environmental and economic benefits.

Scraping sediment at Willow Brook as part of the sediment fingerprinting © Trent Rivers Trust
Scraping sediment at Willow Brook as part of sediment fingerprinting © Trent Rivers Trust


Delivering environmental benefits in urban communities

In October 2015, WaterLIFE supported a workshop which explored how to deliver environmental benefits in urban communities. The workshop was very successful, attracting over 100 participants. There were two distinct sessions:

  • A series of short pitches where 24 practitioners, planners and academics from a diverse range of organisations and backgrounds had the opportunity to introduce the group to their work.
  • Break out groups exploring different themes including funding, monitoring, partnership working and technical innovation.

The slides from the workshop are available to view online.

To read more about the workshop and its outcomes, please download the workshop report:

Download ‘Delivering environmental benefits in urban environments’ workshop report

Urban housing development near the river Soar at Leicester city.
Urban water environment
© Jiri Rezac 2015



Securing clean and healthy rivers

The second cycle River Basin Management Plans offered an opportunity for improved water management in Europe with the aim of achieving good status throughout.

This report collates assessments of the draft Plans by various WWF offices. WaterLIFE contributed to the assessment of England’s draft Plans.

Some of the key assessments made:

  • The Plans risk repeated the mistakes that were made the first cycle.
  • No further improvements can be anticipated.
  • Little or no progress can be found in addressing the main gaps identified by the first cycle Plans – diffuse pollution, over-abstraction, changes to flow, physical changes to river channels and too many exemptions were allowed.
  •  Information as to how to these pressures will be addressed remains missing.

However, the report concludes that correct implementation of the water Framework Directive can still be achieved.

Read the full report: Securing clean and healthy rivers

Screenshot of 'securing clean and healthy rivers' report front cover

Barriers and opportunities to implementing Payments for Ecosystem Services schemes and engaging supply chains in river health management

In three of WaterLIFE’s demonstration catchments, we’re working to increase the capacity of those on the ground and, as a result, improve the health of the water environment.

As part of this objective, we carried out research in the Soar, Camlad and Tamar to look at the barriers and opportunities that exist when it comes to implementing Payments for Ecosystems Services scheme and engaging organisations in the supply chain in river health.

This report details how the research was carried out as well as the main recommendations that arose, which will help to steer further activity within the project.

Download the report: Opportunities and barriers to using payments for ecosystem services and supply chain measures

My Tamar Festival

A summer of community activities across the Tamar catchment culminated in the ‘My Tamar’ festival in October 2015. The Festival brought together different members of the local community, from artists to food producers, to raise awareness about the River Tamar and the vital role it plays in their lives. It was also an opportunity to showcase the work of the catchment partnership.

Read more about the Festival in the My Tamar report.

Download the My Tamar Festival report

WaterLIFE tour of the Severn River Basin

Members of the WaterLIFE project team spent a week in the Severn River Basin. The team attended and spoke at the annual Rivers Trust ‘Springs of Rivers Conference’ (24 November 2015), joined the Severn Catchment Partnership meeting (26 November 2015) and had the chance to see first hand some of the fantastic work happening across the river basin.

For more details about the conference and workshop, along with the outcomes and agreed next steps, please download the brief report:

Severn Workshop Report 2015

Useful links

Conference presentations

WaterLIFE: One Year On

Progress in the Camlad


Progress in the Camlad

A tour of the Soar


Compliance in the agriculture and land management sector

Fewer than a quarter of water bodies in England are healthy. Whilst there are many factors that contribute to this, a third of problems can be traced back to the agriculture and land management sector. This report assesses farms’ compliance with water protection regulation and draws some key recommendations and learning.

Download the full report >>


Mapping the Evidence: Workshop Report

Following the Catchment Partnership workshop in July, specific representatives came together to progress previous discussions about how data could help improve the water environment. The ‘Mapping the Evidence’ workshop was organised to bring together members of the partnership to discuss how mapping the evidence and generating detailed maps could enable partners to make strategic land management decisions across the Soar catchment.

Download the Mapping the Evidence workshop report


Opportunity: Delivering water sensitive farming in two chalk stream catchments

WaterLIFE is inviting applications from civil society organisations to work with and deliver water sensitive farming approaches within two chalk stream catchments, to help move both catchments towards good ecological health as defined by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

The project

WaterLIFE aims to improve the health of rivers across the UK and Europe for the benefit of people and nature by working with businesses, communities and government. Specifically, this project will work with Coca-Cola, a WWF-UK partner, and a selected delivery partner, to support the agricultural community to deliver water sensitive farming approaches within two chalk stream catchments where sugar beet is grown as part of the rotation.

The ultimate aim of this work is to move the chalk stream towards Good Ecological Status, by reducing the impact of diffuse pollution.

It will be let as two stand-alone contracts – one contract for each of the chalk stream catchments selected. Those interested in submitting a proposal can do so for just one catchment, or both, depending on operational areas and suitability of potential catchments. The selection will be based on both the catchment and the capacity of the partner to deliver the project.

For more information about this opportunity as well as process, budget and timescales, please read the full Expressions of Interest.

Deadline for applications: 12pm, 21 August 2015.


For general queries about the project please contact Simon Aguss, WaterLIFE Project Manager, [email protected].

For technical queries, please contact Kathy Hughes, UK Freshwater Specialist, [email protected].

Download full Expressions of Interest document >>


What do people think about the water environment?

This commissioned literature review sets out what a wide range of literature says about current public attitudes towards the water environment – do people associate themselves with their water environment? How often do their visit it? Do they care about it?

Download report >

Making the case for Water Stewardship

Artesia Consulting completed a report to provide water stewardship resources to companies in the UK, focusing on water quality improvement to support WFD objectives. The report confirmed that few businesses operating in the UK are aware of and appreciate potential water risks with very few taking action. The report sets out a series of case studies to illustrate simple steps that can be taken to reduce increase and take advantage of opportunities.

Download report >>