Severn Trent vows to get River Positive to help drive health of Britain's Rivers

Monday 14th March 2020

• Severn Trent have pledged to Get River Positive by 2030

• Five key steps to prevent harm to rivers in their region and ensure they can thrive  

• Commitment to ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers 

• Improvements will ensure that 90% of regions’ population live less than one hour away from a designated bathing site  


Severn Trent has today announced a Get River Positive Plan: five pledges to transform river water quality across their region.    

The commitments are a clear and actionable response to calls for a revival of rivers in England.  Central to the pledges is a commitment that work carried out by the company will ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers.  The Get River Positive plan is underpinned by five key pledges that set a framework for water companies to lead the charge in protecting and revitalising rivers.  

Severn Trent has committed to:  

1. Ensure storm overflows and sewage treatment works do not harm rivers 

• Based on Environment Agency measures (Reasons for Not Achieving Good Ecological Status*), their operations will not be the reason for unhealthy rivers by 2030.  

• Reducing the use of storm overflows to an average of 20 per year by 2025.

2. Create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy our region's rivers

• Improving 50km of rivers in Warwickshire and Shropshire, creating 15km of bathing quality rivers by 2025 and have plans to double the amount of bathing quality rivers in the Midlands within 10 years. 

• Work with local clubs to increase opportunities for water-based activities at our reservoir sites, starting this year.

3. Support others to improve and care for rivers

• Launch a new deal for farmers this spring to incentivise regenerative farming practices and provide access to green financing.

• Campaign for the removal of the automatic right to connect for new developments, i.e., building new homes.

• Champion the Bill to ban wet wipes.

• Use convening powers to help others address their contribution to river health.

• Launch a Get River Positive Community Fund to support community groups and charities wanting to/helping improve our region’s rivers. 

4. Enhance our rivers and create new habitats so wildlife can thrive

• By 2030, they will establish new habitats for native species of wildlife, such as great crested newts, beavers, otters and cuckoos, in the Midlands - so our natural communities can thrive. 

• Their team of River Rangers will work with community groups and organisations such as Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and Shropshire Wildlife Trust to care for rivers and address issues across the region. 

• Their Get River Positive Community Champion volunteers will work with Waterside Care and the Canal and River Trust to clean and restore rivers and riverbanks across the region.

• They will plant over a million trees across the region by 2025, and 1.3 million by 2027.

5. Be open and transparent about our performance and our plans

• Work with NGOs to ensure they provide the information people want and need to see to accurately judge river health. 

• Make sure this information is easily accessible via their website by end of 2022. 

Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO, 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.” 

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