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Upstream Thinking

Upstream Thinking

Upstream Thinking

Upstream Thinking

Does catchment management improve stream water quality and decrease water treatment costs?

Catchment management has increasingly become the chosen approach to reduce both point source and diffuse pollution in freshwater from agriculture. Our research is at catchment scale; it aims at understanding and quantifying the impact of such programme on both water quality and financial savings for water utilities.

Read the project report online

Download the report

About the project

The research project aims to understand and quantify the change brought about through the Upstream Thinking programme, South West Water’s catchment management initiative. Our work focuses on 9 catchments throughout Devon and Cornwall in the South West of England, all having different water quality issues. These include a combination of the following: dissolved organic carbon and colour, turbidity, pesticides or reservoir eutrophication through the input of nutrients.

Using a bespoke monitoring approach for each site, the project aims are threefold:

  • Map and characterise the extent of Upstream Thinking interventions aiming at reducing pollution
  • Monitor water quality change at water treatment works (WTWs) level; this is done by using a combination of continuous data collected by SWW, or through in situ monitoring of streams.
  • Link water quality change to the water treatment process in order to understand the financial impact of improved water quality

Team members

  • Prof Richard Brazier (PI)
  • Dr Emilie Grand-Clement
  • Paul Henderson
  • Josie Ashe
  • Dr Donna Carless


  • South West Water (SWW)

Project partners

This research is funded by South West Water (SWW), in partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT), Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA), Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT), Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) and the Environment Agency (EA).