River Evenlode: Rural Catchment Management

Organisation: Thames Water

Location: Oxfordshire

Type: Case Studies & Projects

Link: Visit Website

Encouraging water sensitive farming and reducing phosphorus loss from farms and fields into local watercourses.

Phosphorus is essential for plant life, but too much of it can damage the environment. Thames Water has been running a trial with farmers and local stakeholders to understand the value of taking a catchment approach to addressing this issue. The project consists of a Catchment Fund which provides capital and operational grant payments for changes to farm management which will reduce phosphorus leaching and soil loss. Examples include arable reversion to grasslands, no-till farming and cover cropping. The fund helps farmers to make changes without sacrificing short term farm income.

The project measures the effectiveness of different solutions in reducing diffuse phosphorus pollution, quantifies the cost per kilogramme of phosphorus removed from the environment and compares the cost-effectiveness of financially supporting landowners against end of pipe measures at treatment works. The response rate to date has been positive, with 80% of the landholdings contacted agreeing to participate in the trial.

In addition, Thames Water offers a free advice service to help farmers take advantage of existing agri-environment schemes and encourage farmers to propose their own innovative solutions.

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