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Severn Trent sets out rivers vision as it launches UK’s largest bathing water programme

  • Severn Trent sets out rivers vision as it launches UK’s largest bathing water programme

About the entity

Severn Trent
We were founded in 1974 as a regional, state-owned water authority based in the Midlands and responsible for water supply management, and waste water treatment and disposal.
Schneider Electric

Following on from the launch of Get River Positive in March, Severn Trent is announcing the UK’s largest river quality improvement programme with plans to transform 15km of waterways into bathing waters.

The Midlands-based company 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. There are currently no bathing quality rivers in the UK.

Monitoring systems will today begin supplying real time data about the quality improvements 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.

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

An app will also be created to give river water quality status information to members of the public and communities, to 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.

“Our communities stand to benefit directly from our bathing rivers programme, with the nearest coastline 80-120 miles away, our project will generate new opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors. 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,” Liv added.

Wilfred Denga, Bathing Rivers Lead of Severn Trent said: “Understanding more about what’s literally under the surface of rivers and knowing the current water quality, will help us know what’s needed to get it to bathing quality. It will also determine what engagement we need to do with others, such as farmers and other industries, to help reach our ambitious goals.”

The programme will also allow teams to develop and build a forecasting model to feed into a public app that will arm customers with information they need when deciding to use the river.

“One of the biggest benefits of this project, is that we’re looking to empower our customers and put the data in their hands, so when it comes to using the river, they have all the information they need,” adds Wilfred.“We really want our community to be a part of this project, as after all, they will be the ones who will be benefiting from it the most – by the time we complete this project in 2025 our customers will be able to use our app to understand the quality of the river, what’s in it, and what we’ve done as a company to make it good enough to swim in.”

Philip Dunne, Member of Parliament for Ludlow has welcomed this significant investment by Severn Trent, especially the improvements planned for the River Teme. He comments, “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. 

“This is a great step forward to show how my campaign to improve water quality of our rivers can bring practical benefit to our community here in South Shropshire. 

“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.”

Cllr Andrew Day, Leader of Warwick District Council said: “We welcome the work being carried out by Severn Trent to improve the river quality across Warwick District and beyond. Being land-locked and a good few miles from the nearest coastline, this ambition presents residents and visitors with a creative opportunity to enjoy their local river along with the bio-diversity and tranquillity of the riverbanks, without having to travel too far from home. We hope that this investigative work enables the next steps for our residents, which will see them being able to make informed choices about how and when they use the river for their leisure activities; providing a safe and local alternative to travelling to the coastline.”

Severn Trent partners EMS will be carrying out the monitoring on behalf of the company, that is expected to give readings every 15 minutes.  

The project is set to be complete by 2025.

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