How water stewardship is making a difference, one drop at a time

Water is currently at the forefront of many conversations. Pollution, drought, scarcity: this precious substance is the heart of our growing population, and we need to do more to protect it. This year’s World Water Day is focused on accelerating solutions to mitigate against the global water crisis. 

Matthew Woodard


What is water stewardship and how does it fit into the Rivers Trust’s replenishment journey?

The Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) outlines water stewardship as,

“The use of water that is socially and culturally equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial, achieved through a stakeholder-inclusive process that includes both site- and catchment-based actions.” – Alliance for Water Stewardship

There must be a two-way process when it comes to water: the water extracted must be equally or beneficially restored. Organisations like The Rivers Trust are working with multinational businesses, and other supporting governing bodies and initiatives, to deliver solutions on a local level to improve water availability and quality across the UK.

The Rivers Trust are also part of the Catchment Based Approach (CaBA). CaBA champions collaborative action at catchment scale, to deliver a more integrated approach to address environmental, social, and economic opportunities and threats to water. This integrated approach allows multiple stakeholders from different sectors to come together for collaborative action. These networks make informed and outcome-focused decisions for managing the environment and adapting to climate change from a water focused lens.

The Rivers Trust is working with a growing number of business to support their water stewardship objectives and then helping to join up the dots between as businesses water related risks and local nature based solutions projects.

Where are our replenish projects happening?

We currently have a number of Replenish projects across England, supported by businesses from a range of sectors. Each of these projects are utilising nature-based solutions to improve the quality and or quantity of water.

What do the replenish figures mean?

Replenishing water is defined by The Rivers Trust as increasing the water volume – specifically within a river’s catchment area - through the implementation of an appropriate nature-based solution.

For example, if you build a wetland, it will replenish a set volume of water back into the catchment. This is due to wetlands being able to hold a much larger volume of water than the original field with no green infrastructure in place.

The approach can be applied to a wider range of land management and conservations practices, such as peatland restoration, habitat creation and natural flood risk management – all of these activities will have a replenish value based on their scale and location within the catchment.

The Rivers Trust are now looking at creating a viable market for replenish credits from activities/interventions such as wetland creation. Businesses can then purchase these credits to offset their own water usage within specific catchments.

What does the future of water replenishment look like?

In addition to a growing number of corporates, we are also receiving support from Defra and he Environment Agency through the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund (NEIRF).

This funding is helping us to start developing a viable market for investment in ‘water replenishment’ – increasing the water volume and quality in a catchment through the implementation of nature-based solutions.

Through sale of Replenish credits which businesses can use to offset the impact of their water use. The credits will be based on the Volumetric Water Benefit Accounting Methodology and verified through live case studies led by 5 local Rivers Trusts: South East Rivers Trusts, Thames21, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Norfolk Rivers Trust and the Wye and Usk Foundation

How can I get involved?

All actions matter when it comes to the fight for water. Every action counts and we all have our part to play. The Rivers Trust hold regular volunteering opportunities and events in partnership with our member trusts, so keep an eye on our social channels and website.

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