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United Utilities announces £300,000 fund for catchment projects

Posted: 11/11/20

United Utilities have announced its plans for improving the North West’s watercourses through partnership working and holistic thinking.  United Utilities CEO Steve Mogford launched the company’s Catchment Systems Thinking (CaST) approach at a virtual event which was attended by NGOs, academics, businesses, regulators, environment groups and local authorities.

He described the challenges facing the environment and the opportunities for water companies and other agencies to deliver more for less by working in cooperation.

And to give the idea a boost, United Utilities has pledged a £300,000 CaST Fund, for which charities and community groups will be able to bid. It will help to unlock additional external funding to support environmental improvements in the North West of England.

The CaST approach looks at a river catchment as an entire system rather than a series of isolated issues. It has already brought multiple benefits such as pollutant reduction and flood risk management along watercourses in Cumbria and Lancashire.

The River Petteril in Cumbria’s Eden Valley formed a pilot project which brought together a wide range of stakeholders including farmers, regulators and big businesses. United Utilities delivered enhanced monitoring for the whole catchment to identify the sources of phosphate pollution and collaborated with a steering group to identify the most cost effective interventions. The result was a greater improvement in water quality beyond United Utilities’ own assets at a lower cost to customers. Furthermore, the collaboration allowed additional natural capital benefits to be incorporated at a catchment-wide scale, such as enhanced biodiversity, soil conservation and tree planting.

United Utilities also announced at the virtual event that it is creating an online portal to facilitate ongoing discussion and partnership working. The CaST Forum, which goes live in early 2021, will be co-created with stakeholders to provide a central hub for sharing ideas and a virtual marketplace for partners to access environmental funding.

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