In the North only approximately 21% of the water bodies in the North meet national (WFD) standards for water quality. This impacts on fresh water habitats and availability of drinking water. According to the Environment Agency 41% of all water extracted in England comes from the North. Many of the England’s largest reservoirs are found in catchments in the North of England. The state of nature in these catchment can influence the quality of this water. Impacts from a degraded environment include diffuse nutrient pollution, soil erosion or discolouration from unrestored peatlands resulting in an increased in cost for water treatment.
Restoring ecosystems across catchments in the North will restore natural functions which will result in high quality raw water and reduced water treatment costs. Across the North of England projects have illustrated that nature-based solutions are cost effective as part of an integrated catchment management approach to improve water quality. This includes establishment of vegetation in riparian field boundaries, woodland and wetlands creation, and establishment of cover crops. A number of pilot projects have been supported by innovative financial approaches (i.e. see Entrade, LENS). There is significant potential to scale these approaches and funding mechanism across the North.