Wessex Water Guardians

The Wessex Water region has over 25,000kms of watercourses

The landscapes across our region are home to a range of wildlife

80% of litter in our watercourses was originally dropped on land.

About the Water Guardians community project 

Funded by Wessex Water, the project aims to recruit and train local volunteers – Water Guardians – to monitor watercourses, identify possible pollution incidents and report them to us for further investigation.  

Water Guardians will be our additional eyes and ears on the ground, playing an integral role in protecting the health of their local rivers. As well as monitoring pollution to improve water quality, volunteers could also help by litter-picking, recording wildlife or organising local engagement events. As a Water Guardian you will help to assess and improve the condition of rivers, improve habitats for wildlife and create more natural solutions for flood alleviation. 

The project involves monitoring rivers across Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset, with a particular focus on areas near our assets, pollution hotspots and environmental areas of interest/importance.  

Partnership Working 

Local Wildlife Trusts are working with people and organisations across the region to improve wildlife habitats. We won’t achieve healthy habitats and clean rivers without the active engagement of multiple stakeholders, including local communities, landowners, farmers, NGOs and water companies.  

Wessex Water and the Wildlife Trusts are part of Catchment Partnerships in Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, which bring together a range of organisations working collaboratively at a river catchment scale to deliver improvements to local water environments. 

Wessex Water has a long tradition of wildlife conservation work and is continually adapting to meet the many challenges facing the habitats and species within our region. We are focusing on four key themes to help conserve and enhance biodiversity, including:  

  • our Partners Programme which provides funding for projects carried out by wildlife organisations  
  • environmental assessment work which sets out how to avoid or mitigate any impact to the environment from sites or operations 
  • conservation, access, recreation work which involves enhancing biodiversity as a landowner 
  • catchment biodiversity work which aims to find both wildlife and water quality solutions to problems across catchments. 

Watercourses as part of Nature Recovery Networks

Rivers, streams and other freshwater pools and lakes are crucial to sustaining life on our planet, running like arteries across our beautiful region. However, plastics, chemical pollution, climate change and surface run-off from roads and farms are just some of the reasons that less than a fifth of England’s rivers are considered healthy.  

Pollution and loss of natural features along rivers also have a knock-on impact on surrounding habitats, the wildlife that depend on them and the oceans into which rivers flow. By frequently monitoring watercourses, responding to harmful pollution and practices and working together in partnerships we can help create a Nature Recovery Network.  

We want to see clean rivers joining up healthy habitats, flowing through the varied, working landscape of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset. We want to see waterways that are rich with fish and freshwater invertebrates, wetlands abundant in birdlife and rivers that flow out to clean coastlines and oceans rich in marine life.