Unlike some countries, we are very lucky when it comes to water in the UK. We don’t have to think too hard about where it comes from, it is just there when we turn on a tap to brush our teeth, run the bath or step into the shower. We all know that it comes from the environment but how often do we think about the impact our water consumption has on nature?

The truth is that where we get our water from, how we use it and where it goes afterwards has a huge impact on the wildlife and landscapes we love. And we have our work cut out; the 2016 State of Nature report found that 13% of the UK’s freshwater and wetland species are currently at risk of extinction, and only 14% of river water bodies in England are currently classed as in good ecological condition.

(Water vole feeding on a bank in the Peak District. Image credit: Ben Hall, rspb-images.com)

This means that water companies in England and Wales have the power to be major players in the future health of our environment. On behalf of their customers (that’s all of us!) they invest £8 billion a year – and we need them to play their part and ensure we have healthy rivers, clean beaches and coastal waters, safe drinking water, less waste, reduced flooding and thriving wildlife.

The catch is they will only do it if we all tell them to.

This year, the water companies in England sit down to draft their future investment plans for 2020-2025. This is known as the ‘Price Review 19’ or ‘PR19’. They are doing so at a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty for the environment, the economy, and for society, as the UK exits the European Union. We must make sure that the environment does not become a casualty of confusion at this crucial time and that their plans will deliver for both people and nature.

Working with 17 other organisations, the RSPB has developed a ‘Blueprint for PR19’, setting out the priority areas of investment that we believe the companies should focus on in their business plans. It outlines four areas for action:

  1. Protect and restore water catchments from their source to the sea
  2. Stop pollution of our waters
  3. Use water wisely and price water fairly
  4. Keep our rivers flowing and our wetlands wet

(Wooded banks of the river Tees. Image credit: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com)

How you can help water companies to save nature

Water companies will be engaging with their customers over the next few months to ensure their plans sit well with their customer interests and priorities. This makes it the perfect time for you to have your say and speak up for nature!

We passionately believe that a healthy natural environment is at the heart of a resilient and successful water industry: an industry that can meet the needs of current and future customers, and cope with the challenges we face such as climate change and population growth. Now is the time for action. Have your say this summer and help us ensure that water companies’ next business plans are good for people and good for the environment.

Affinity Water (@AffinityWater) | Twitter

Anglian Water (@AnglianWater) | Twitter

Bournemouth Water (@BmouthWater) | Twitter

Cambridge Water (@Cambswater) | Twitter

Northumbrian Water (@NorthumbrianH2O) | Twitter

Portsmouth Water (@PortsmouthWater) · Twitter

Severn Trent (@stwater) | Twitter

South East Water (@sewateruk) · Twitter

Southern Water (@SouthernWater) · Twitter

South Staffs Water (@SthStaffsWater) · Twitter

South West Water (@SouthWestWater) | Twitter

Thames Water (@thameswater) | Twitter

United Utilities (@unitedutilities) · Twitter

Welsh Water (@DwrCymru) · Twitter

Wessex Water (@wessexwater) | Twitter

Yorkshire Water (@YorkshireWater) | Twitter

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