Better Rivers: Better North West

As more people have come to appreciate the environment since the pandemic, there’s a real drive to improve our rivers and waterways. People want to swim, to enjoy riverside walks and get back to nature, and we have an important role to play by upgrading the sewerage infrastructure in the region.

In March 2022, we published a series of commitments to kick start a river revival over the next three years. Better Rivers: Better North West is a four-point plan setting out our commitments to:

  • make sure the company’s operations progressively reduce impact to river health;
  • be open and transparent about our performance and plans;
  • make rivers beautiful and support others to improve and care for them; and
  • create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy rivers and waterways.

Most of these pledges will be delivered over the next three years, including investment in wastewater systems, enhanced data monitoring and sharing, greater innovation and more use of nature-based solutions.

We have committed to deliver £230 million in environmental improvements, leading to 184 kilometres of improved waterways.

We have committed to deliver £230 million in environmental improvements, supporting at least a one-third sustainable reduction in the number of spills recorded from our storm overflows by 2025 compared to the 2020 baseline. This investment at sites across the region will lead to 184 kilometres of improved waterways. We will make sure that all storm overflows are monitored by 2023 and real-time data on their operation is made available to the general public.

In addition to the £230 million within our base capital programme, part of the additional investment we are making outside the scope of our final determination allowance will help accelerate these plans.

But that’s only part of the solution; we can’t do this on our own. Members of the public will be able to get involved too with the launch of a community fund to support local river health initiatives and, working alongside The Rivers Trust, there will be the opportunity for people to volunteer as citizen scientists to collect data on river health, which will help inform further improvement work.

We also continue to engage with the ongoing industrywide investigations by Ofwat and the Environment Agency into possible unpermitted sewage discharges.