Water guardians

Water Guardians

The River Brue is over 30 miles long, reaching the sea at Highbridge.

Somerset’s Levels and Moors are internationally important for wading birds.

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

70% of the Levels is grassland, mainly used for dairy grazing pasture.

About the Water Guardians community project 

Somerset Wildlife Trust and Wessex Water are joining forces to work towards cleaner rivers and good quality habitats for wildlife. Funded by Wessex Water, the aim of the project is to recruit and train local volunteers – the Water Guardians – to monitor watercourses, identify possible pollution incidents and report them to Wessex Water for further investigation. 

Initially the project will focus on the Brue Valley catchment area within the Somerset Levels and Moors, particularly areas near Wessex Water assets, pollution hotspot and environmental areas of interest/importance. The Somerset Levels and Moors are working wetlands and areas important for agriculture, an intricately managed landscape full of history, heritage and culture. This is also one of Somerset’s most protected landscapes for biodiversity, wintering waterfowl and waders, flower-rich wet grasslands and rich invertebrate communities. 

Water Guardians will be our eyes and ears on the ground, playing an integral role in both the health of their local river and in their communities. As well as monitoring pollution to improve water quality, volunteers could also help by litter-picking, recording wildlife or organising local engagement events. 

Water Guardians will be part of a bigger picture and the wider team at Somerset Wildlife Trust working to assess and improve river condition, improve habitats for wildlife and create more natural solutions for flood alleviation and carbon storage.


Partnership Working 

Somerset Wildlife Trust is working with people and organisations across the county to connect up our 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. Playing to our strengths we can work together to achieve more for nature and help connect our Nature Recovery Networks.

Somerset Wildlife Trust and Wessex Water are both partners in the Somerset Catchment Partnership, which brings together a range of organisations working collaboratively at a river catchment scale to deliver cross-cutting improvements to Somerset’s water environments.

Wessex Water has a long tradition of wildlife conservation work and continually adapts to meet the many challenges facing the habitats and species within our region.  Focusing on four key themes to help conserve and enhance biodiversity: partners programme, which provides funding for projects carried out by wildlife organisations; environmental assessment work which set out how to avoid or mitigate any impact to the environment from sites or operations; conservation, access, recreation work which includes enhancing biodiversity as a landowner; catchment biodiversity work, which aims to find both wildlife and water quality solutions to problems across the catchment.

Watercourses as part of Nature Recovery Networks

Rivers, streams and other freshwater pools and lakes are crucial to sustain life on our planet, running like arteries across the beautiful county of Somerset. 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 the surrounding habitats, the wildlife that depend on them and the oceans into which rivers flow. 

By frequently monitoring water courses, 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. We want to see waterways that are rich with fish and freshwater invertebrates, wetlands abundant in bird life and rivers that flow out to clean coastlines and oceans rich in marine life.

Would you like to join the team and help protect Somerset’s beautiful rivers and wetlands? 

Find out more about becoming a Water Guardian and other ways to get involved on our Volunteering Opportunities page

Frequently asked questions