Farmers go behind scenes to discover source of local water

Monday 30th January 2017

Upstream Thinking in action: East Devon Farmers gather to get an insight into the work of South West Water

East Devon farmers and landowners recently got an exclusive behind the scenes view of a South West Water plant.

East Devon farmers and landowners recently got an exclusive look behind the scenes at a local water plant and learned how they could help in the supply of clean water to wildlife and people. 

The visit took place at South West Water's Water Treatment Works, Newton Poppleford on 25 January and was attended by 10 land managers. The event was part of an initiative named Upstream Thinking - South West Water's award-winning programme of river catchment management which aims to work with farmers and landowners to protect water quality in streams and rivers.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s David Rolls Working Wetlands Advisory Officer is part of the local team delivering Upstream Thinking and helped to coordinate the visit. David said:

“The visit was just one of the opportunities on offer through the Upstream Thinking. The project also offers advisory farm visits, soil tests, manure sampling, free aerator loans, production of Integrated Farm Management Plans and assistance with applications for both Agri-environment funding and our own project grant fund.”

During the trip visitors were shown the process by which water is drawn from the underlying sandstone aquifers through a series of 14 local boreholes and treated prior to human consumption.

Duncan Thorne, South West Water’s Principal Scientist South West Water expressed his happiness at the opportunity to show local farmers how the water treatment process operates and the impacts, good and bad, that agriculture can play in their work:

“We’re always pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with the local community the opportunities and challenges that exist.”

The visitors seemed impressed with what they saw. Gordon Sage of Pinn Barton Farm, Pinn said:

“I have lived locally all my life and it was very interesting to come and visit and to see where our water comes from. I never realised how complicated it all was!”

While Sarah Hogg, Chair of the Tale Valley Trust, said:

“It has really lifted the lid of the mystery of our local water supply. I found the event incredibly informative.”

Yog Watkins of Westcountry Rivers Trust helped organise the day. Yog said:

“The level of farmer engagement with the project has been really encouraging. Increasing farm efficiency and profitability can lead to improvements in the environment, resulting in cleaner water for nature and ourselves to both drink and use recreationally.”

People wanting to learn more about the work of Upstream Thinking in East Devon are urged to contact Devon Wildlife Trust’s David Rolls for more information 07976 513132 or Yog Watkins of Westcountry Rivers Trust on 07854 145896.

Tagged with: Business, Devon Wildlife Trust, East Devon, Farmers, Farming, South west water, Upstream Thinking, Water