Water for wildlife

Dane Valley by R Gardner

Cheshire Wildlife Trust has partnered with United Utilities to provide people and wildlife within the Dane Valley with some of the purest water in the country.

Over four years, United Utilities is funding four Catchment Advisors across England and North Wales, who are responsible for delivering a catchment management scheme that aims to prevent the contamination of raw water at source, reduce the pressure on treatment processes, and to bring wider benefits to nature at the same time.

Water from the River Dane is taken from the ground at United Utilities' Hugbridge Water Treatment Works on the A523, Leek to Macclesfield Road.
This abstracted river water is then treated at the works, pumped to a holding reservoir and then fed into the network supplying Congleton and surrounding villages of east Cheshire. On average the plant treats four million litres of water a day and can produce as much as eight million litres of drinking water in the same period!

The raw water supplying the works drains from the surrounding uplands, starting near the Cat and Fiddle, flowing down through the village of Wincle, where it picks up various feeder brooks and streams on the way. The total area it covers is 7,200 hectares

The River Dane is classified as a Water Safeguard Zone, however tests have detected traces of pesticides often used to tackle weeds or control slugs and snails at various feeder points along the catchment. These pesticides come from a range of sources including farms, small holdings, amenity and highways management schemes, as well as from domestic gardening.

Which is where the Catchment Advisor plays a vital role. In December 2015, Cheshire Wildlife Trust appointed Richard Gardner as Dane Valley Catchment Advisor (pictured right). Richard is tasked with working with farmers and other landowners in the Upper Dane Valley, supporting them in a range of ways to make improvements that will positively impact on the water environment. This includes:

• Offering spraying equipment 'MOTs';
• Free farm chemical disposal;
• Advising on soil and nutrient management;
• Incentivising alternative ways to tackle slug and snail control;
• Supporting woodland grant scheme applications;
• Giving practical advice to improve the water environment.

He'll raise awareness of the scheme by running events, workshops and meetings for the local community, farmers, landowners, students and other groups. He also will administer United Utilities’ interventions grant scheme to deliver practical work that will improve water quality and biodiversity.
In addition to this he'll promote the Water Safeguard Zone across the communities where he will works and carry out an enhanced water monitoring programme using the latest technology.

Over the next four years he will be working intensively in the Upper Dane Catchment driving home the message to the local community that the rain falling onto their land eventually ends up in the river and ultimately, following treatment, enters the drinking water supply.

All the work is supported by United Utilities' Sustainable Catchment Management Programme (SCaMP).

If you have any queries about the Water Safeguard Zone, how you can help improve the water environment, or the services on offer, please get in touch by emailing rgardner@cheshirewt.org.uk or calling 07837 465110.