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We’re working with Severn Trent to improve the health of rivers

3 January 2023

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Mike Brownhill

Operations Director

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EMS work with Severn Trent

We’re excited to be involved with Severn Trent’sGet River Positive scheme’, which aims to improve the health of its region’s rivers and move towards creating bathing-quality stretches of river. As part of the project, EMS has deployed water-quality monitoring equipment in three rivers providing near-real-time monitoring data, vital to Severn Trent’s work.

Severn Trent Water is working on a range of community-focused initiatives, which aim to tackle issues directly related to their customers’ living costs and the surrounding environment. During the ‘cost of living’ crisis, they are working hard to reduce water bills for those most in need, tackle youth unemployment with employability training, and they are donating over £2M a year to local charities and community groups.

Severn Trent is also incorporating a range of environmental measures to improve the health of natural water bodies and surrounding habitats.  Their ‘Get River Positive’ scheme aims to address the issue that only 14% of rivers in the UK have a ‘good’ ecological status, by making the rivers in its region the healthiest they can be, as well as supporting others to improve and care for rivers.

River health problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including water company practices, agricultural practices, use of chemicals, sewer misuse, and land development. Severn Trent is investing £100M every year into sewer upgrades, which will increase capacity and reduce spills and flooding. They are also offering grants to farmers to encourage the uptake of regenerative farming techniques and planting 1.2 million trees over the next four years to improve habitats and biodiversity. 

As part of its Green Recovery Bathing Rivers programme, Severn Trent is investing £78m to improve the water quality along more than 50km of river in Warwickshire and Shropshire. The aim is to help stretches of the River Leam, and the River Teme, move towards bathing quality by 2025 – making these rivers better places to be for everyone, no matter how they use them. The work involves closely monitoring and sampling river water quality in dozens of places along the river Leam and the River Teme, as well as the River Avon, to build the best picture of current river health.

EMS has provided and installed the water quality monitoring equipment, flow monitors and water sampling services to make this project possible. We have worked closely with Severn Trent, Dalcour Maclaren, and local landowners to install monitoring equipment. This sensing technology measures water pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, ammonia and conductivity. This provides Severn Trent with the near-real-time monitoring data they need to focus the measures they’re putting in place to improve water quality.  Severn Trent will be sharing water quality data from the Leam and the Teme in a new online tool for everyone to see the health of their river in real-time. This water quality data will be combined with weather forecasts, existing monitoring and storm overflow spills data, as well as knowledge and understanding to help river users make informed choices on when and where is good to be in, on or around the water.

This valuable work will not only improve the water quality of rivers but will have a direct impact on river-related wildlife and biodiversity. Improved aquatic habitats will enable aquatic species to thrive, which will encourage the biodiversity of riverbanks and surrounding ecosystems. This will also benefit the wider environment and community, as more people will be able to take part in outdoor activities such as water sports, improve their physical fitness, and enjoy more time and connection with nature and outdoor spaces.

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