Big promises made to accelerate river revival

Image: Tom Wheatley, Unsplash

Two UK water companies have joined forces to accelerate efforts to transform river quality.

Severn Trent and Anglian Water have together launched the Get River Positive Plan, containing five pledges to protect rivers across their regions, which are set out on a dedicated website.

The commitments are in response to widespread calls from communities and the UK government for more to be done to revive rivers in England – in February 2022, environment minister Rebecca Pow said the water industry must do more to protect the environment and that water quality was “an absolute priority”.

Central to plan’s pledges is a commitment that work carried out by the two water companies will ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm their local rivers.

The five Get River Positive pledges are:

  • Ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers
  • Create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy our region's rivers
  • Support others to improve and care for rivers
  • Enhance our rivers and create new habitats so wildlife can thrive
  • Be open and transparent about our performance and our plans

Anglian Water chief executive Peter Simpson said: “We share the ambitions of our customers, and their expectation that our rivers should be beautiful places, rich in nature.

“As the Environment Bill became the Environment Act, we made it clear we felt even more action was needed to ensure the future health of our rivers – by coming together as an industry, securing the right investment as part of the regulatory process, and working collaboratively with other sectors.

"We firmly believe in the power of collaboration to solve big challenges which is why it’s vital we bring the right people together. Get River Positive is the start of a movement, of tangible action that will deliver the changes we all want to see.”

"We listened to our communities and understand the need for us to take the lead and accelerate our plans on river health. We must go further to do the right thing."

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent

Severn Trent chief executive Liv Garfield said: “Although we have improved the health of our rivers significantly in the last 30 years, there is much more to do to make our regions’ rivers the healthiest they can be.

"We listened to our communities and wider stakeholders and understand the need for us to take the lead and accelerate our plans on river health. We must go further to do the right thing.

“The only way to make a real difference is to identify clear and actionable commitments and provide real transparency on our progress. We cannot do this alone; we need everyone to understand their role in river health. That is why we are committed to redoubling our own efforts and investment to help others reduce their impact as well as our own.” 

www.getriverpositive.co.uk