WaterLIFE – using data and evidence

Organisation: WWF

Location: National

Type: Case Studies & Projects

Up to date, robust and quantitative information at the catchment scale is critical to understanding the key priorities for action and helping to engage a range of key partners and external stakeholders, thus driving the development of a shared vision.

Open data

The provision of open data is essential to both establishing and growing a catchment partnership. Through the CaBA, 100+ data layers have been released to catchment partnerships nationwide, a number of which had previously been inaccessible due to licensing and IP issues. The datasets have been released both in pdf and GIS format and include land use and management information, WFD pressures and status, flood risk maps, protected area status and outputs from various predictive tools and models.

In the WaterLIFE catchments, additional technical support was provided to the five partnerships with respect to data and evidence.

Learn about the web portals available

Accessing Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000(FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) can be used to collect data and information from organisations such as the Environment Agency, Defra and water companies. We have produced a short guide to how you can use the regulations to access information not in the public domain.

Learn more


Using data to secure funding

Having access to relevant data and evidence is vital and catchment partnerships must consider how they use it to secure funding: for example, the use of maps to build a business case to pitch to a funding stream or local business, or to target interventions – such as which farm to engage or where to install natural flood measures – is crucial.

In 2015, the Soar Catchment Partnership secured funding from Leicester City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership to use an innovative ‘fingerprinting’ approach to work out where the silt that is currently polluting the Willow Brook catchment – as well as exacerbating flood risk – was coming from, so that it could be tackled at source. To secure the funding, they used data to show that flooding was having a negative economic impact.

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Using data to target interventions

Citizen science initiatives

Citizen science enables communities to gather data about what’s happening in their local area and contribute to a better understanding of river, and catchment health. Often it is citizen science data that flags a potential issue – such as a misconnected drainage pipe.


Read more about citizen science


Intervention targeting at farm scale

Often the more granular the data, the better the appropriate intervention can be designed and targeted. In the Cam & Ely Ouse catchment, the catchment partnership used spatial mapping to show the areas affected by diffuse agricultural pollution. Using this data, farm advisers were able to identify which farms they needed to engage with and help change practices to reduce the pollution.

This mapping approach also meant the impact of the intervention was clear – as the maps were updated to illustrate the reduction in pollution because of the intervention.

Not only does this help improve the health of the water environment but it provides an approach for businesses to engage their supply chains to ensure sustainable management practices within their own operations.



Engaging Local Authorities

The CaBA Urban Working Group, funded by Defra and supported by WaterLIFE, held a series of Urban Water Management Workshops. These events brought together a wide range of stakeholders to illustrate the multiple benefits that can be realised through collaborative delivery.

One of the key lessons from the workshops report was that data and evidence are critical. Robust data and evidence, including water quality data, helps identify pressures on the urban environment and helps to identify cost-effective and multiple benefit intervention opportunities and solutions.


Creekside Cuwg Bill Green Photography
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