Groundwater catchment management

We work with farmers in 15 groundwater catchments shown on the map below:


Map showing groundwater catchment sites


Each catchment has been designated a drinking water safeguard zone by the Environment Agency. Within these zones certain substances must be managed carefully to prevent the pollution of raw water in sources that are used to provide drinking water.

We work with the farmers inside the safeguard zone to:

  • raise awareness of groundwater quality issues
  • share the results of water, soil, crop and manure testing that we have carried out for them
  • provide advice and information about ways to improve the efficiency of how their crops use key inputs such as fertilisers and pesticides
  • compensate them (where appropriate) for adopting alternative practices. An example of this is encouraging farmers to grow cover crops (also known as green manures) to lock up nutrients such as nitrogen and thus prevent them from leaching.

We also work with some farms with fields outside of the safeguard zones but within the wider Poole Harbour catchment. See Poole Harbour nitrogen offsetting project.

The graph below shows the nitrate trend at Eagle Lodge source before and after catchment management started.

Graph showing nitrate trend at Eagle Lodge source

"Wessex Water takes a very proactive approach by working with farmers to improve water quality. By helping to measure soil indices, soil mineral nitrogen, muck testing and so on farmers are better able to manage inputs for both economic and environmental advantage,” Joe Foot, farmer, Weymouth.

For more information about groundwater catchment management please email Ben Hunt, Catchment Source Manager.