From replenishing 1,600 million litres of water, to creating wetlands to trap agricultural pollutants, The Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation ongoing project is helping clean up UK waterways – find out how…

The Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation are working closely together to develop a deeper understanding of freshwater environments across England and deliver critical improvements to rivers in London and Northumbria as well as an ancient fen in Kent. Collectively the projects will realise several benefits for the environment and local communities.

The Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation programme has been structured around six distinct and varied water management and environmental conservation projects. The aim of each is to help improve water quality, reduce flood risk, store carbon, enhance habitat and biodiversity and improve the health and well-being of local communities.

The work is focussed primarily on London and the South East, which are two of the most water-stressed areas in the UK, with the demand for fresh, clean water often exceeding the available supply. Furthermore, additional projects will include the restoration of peatland on the Kent coast, along with rural land management in the North East of England.

Key Deliverables of the three-year programme (2020-2023):

  • Replenish over 1,600 million litres of water
  • Capture or absorb 10 tonnes of carbon per year
  • Create at least four major urban wetlands to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, provide a natural habitat for wildlife and for local communities to enjoy
  • Create 20 smaller settling wetlands to trap agricultural pollutants
  • Restore ancient coastal fen (peat) land
  • Improve biodiversity by restoring wildlife habitat on 66 hectares of land for over 30 bird and animal species
  • Plant 9,000 trees near Morpeth, Northumberland to lock in carbon, alleviate pollution and reduce local flood risk
  • Engage with a range of businesses to better manage water in their supply chains
  • Develop a framework for a Catchment Monitoring Cooperative to ignite citizen science and empower local communities by making them part of the decision-making process in their local environment

As part of the partnership, the Rivers Trust and The Coca‑Cola Foundation are working locally on the ground with Thames21, South East Rivers Trust, Northumberland Rivers Trust and the Kent Wildlife Trust to implement a wide range of nature-based solutions to improve water quality in their catchments.

Thames21 – Creating urban wetlands

Thames21 is the voice for London’s waterways, working with communities to improve rivers  for people and wildlife.

We are working with them to create up to four wetlands in the London Lea Catchment. This work will be in partnership with four local authorities (Enfield, Waltham Forest, Haringey and Hackney), and look to replenish up to 1000 million tonnes of water, reduce flood risk for the catchment, connect with the local community and generate greater biodiversity in the area.

South East Rivers Trust – Wetlands and intercepting road run-off

The South East Rivers Trust inspires lifelong stewardship for rivers by getting people of all ages to experience, enjoy and understand rivers.

With support from Epsom and Ewell Borough Council, the South East Rivers Trust will be aiming to replenish 500 million litres of water, improve biodiversity and enhance habitats surrounding the Hogsmill river by implementing a series of wetlands.

Additionally, they will be continuing their work on the Beverley Brook, using their Downstream Defender to reduce levels of heavy metals and other urban pollutants associated with road run-off reaching the Brook. The Downstream Defender acts as a centrifugal drum which is lowered into the ground to capture particulate pollutants in urban runoff, thereby protecting the nearby brook.

Northumberland Rivers Trust – planting trees and creating wetlands

Northumberland Rivers Trust covers all rivers and streams that flow into the North Sea, north of the Tyne and south of the Tweed, concentrating on catchment, habitat and fishery improvement works.

Working in the Wansbeck catchment in Morpeth, Northumberland Rivers Trust will be planting up to 9000 trees, creating twenty small-scale new wetlands to improve water quality and working with local farmers to reduce run-off and reduce flood risk in the catchment.

Kent Wildlife Trust – Ham Fen Peat Restoration

Kent Wildlife Trust is the leading conservation charity for the county of Kent with a vision for a better, wilder future.

Working with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Canterbury Christchurch University, Kent Wildlife Trust will be continuing their work to restore and enhance Kent’s last remaining ancient semi-natural fenland, Ham Fen Nature Reserve. The project will restore the water table, sequester carbon, and improve habitat and species.

Additional projects through The Rivers Trust and CaBA ( Catchment Based approach) , include:

Establishing the first UK river-based citizen science network (the Catchment Monitoring Cooperative) to monitor and record water quality of UK rivers.

Support the Water Stewardship service to encourage further adoption of water stewardship approaches across businesses, government, and NGOs.

As well as receiving funding from The Coca‑Cola Foundation, the project will be supported by community funding from Coca‑Cola European Partners and a minimum of 360 days’ volunteering work from employees at Coca‑Cola European Partners and Coca‑Cola Great Britain.

Find out more about how we helping to Protect, Reduce, Recycle, Replenish