River transformation a blueprint for water future

Image: Jonny Gios, Unsplash

The UK’s largest river improvement programme pledges to transform 15km of waterways into bathing waters, in what is hoped to be a blueprint for a new water future.

Midlands-based water company Severn Trent is investing £78m to improve 50km of rivers in Warwickshire and Shropshire as part of a scheme that will create bathing quality rivers on the River Leam and River Teme.

The improvements will bolster Severn Trent’s commitment to ensure 90% of people in the Midlands live within an hour’s drive of a bathing water site by 2030.

Monitoring systems have begun to supply real-time data about the quality of the river water, with monitors and sampling taking place across 50 locations - making it one of the most extensive river monitoring programmes in the UK.

As Severn Trent's Green Recovery programme works towards its goal of 15km of bathing quality waters by 2025, the company has also pledged to double the amount of bathing rivers in its region in the next 10 years. By 2025, wild swimmers will be able to swim past landmark locations including Ludlow’s historic 11th century castle and Leamington’s renown Regency Pump Room, the company says.

An app will also be created to give water quality information to members of the public so communities can better understand the health of their local rivers.

Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent said: “While we don’t own our region's rivers, we have an important role to play in improving river health. That means significant innovation and investment over the next 10 years. We will use state-of-the-art systems, materials and processes, creating blueprints for a new water future, one that is leading the way for the whole UK water industry.

“This exciting monitoring programme is the first big step in creating these bathing rivers and moving forward with our plans to Get River Positive so that our communities and customers can look forward to enjoying them safely in the future,”

Philip Dunne, Member of Parliament for Ludlow, who is campaign for better river quality, welcomed the news: “The return of our waterways to a standard fit for bathing is a much-needed and welcome vision from Severn Trent.

"I have worked closely with Severn Trent to put the River Teme in Ludlow at the forefront of its plans to improve water quality. I look forward to working with local people, interested groups and farmers to find suitable places for safe and healthy enjoyment of the river in and around Ludlow.

“We shall be hosting an event in Ludlow on Friday 29 July to explain more about what is involved to those interested and anyone who would like to attend should contact me at philip.dunne.mp@parliament.uk.”

"We will use state-of-the-art systems, materials and processes, creating blueprints for a new water future, one that is leading the way for the whole UK water industry,"

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent