River Eden water quality project

Water quality has been identified as a key issue facing the River Eden, a tributary of the River Medway: in particular, levels of pesticides, fertilisers and eroded soil in the river over winter.

Working closely with SES Water, Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) and The Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), the South East Rivers Trust is running a project to engage with local farmers.

The project will better understand how farmers manage their land, gather their views to shape future work in the catchment to prevent run-off of pesticides and nutrients, and offer guidance and support on farming practices for healthy rivers and to improve wildlife.

River Eden water quality project aims to:

Engage with landowners and farmers to better understand farming practices in the catchment

Work with partners to signpost farmers to support and advice on farming for healthy rivers

Identify the best ways to support future farming practices in the Eden catchment

Identify the best locations to implement catchment solutions

River Eden water quality

SES Water is a water-only company supplying parts of Surrey, Kent and Sussex. In the autumn and winter, SES Water abstracts from the River Eden, storing water in Bough Beech reservoir, near Edenbridge, to ensure sufficient supplies for the following summer.

Water quality is closely monitored in the River Eden because of its importance to drinking water supply. The levels of pesticides, nutrients and eroded soil in the river as a result of runoff from the landscape over winter are elevated.

This places additional pressure on the treatment process at Bough Beech Water Treatment Works before water is supplied to consumers.

SERT and its partners are working closely to coordinate their efforts to tackle the issue of water quality in the Eden, with a primary focus being the engagement of landowners and farmers.

Bough Beech reservoir, picture courtesy SES Water

Mapping of high-risk areas and understanding farming practices

SERT’s has carried out mapping of the catchment to identify high-risk areas – that is, areas that are most likely to be contributing to the water quality problem.

Factors considered include crop coverage, slope gradients and distance from Bough Beech reservoir.

The high-risk areas will be prioritised for engagement, but SERT also hopes to engage with farmers across the catchment to gather a full view of the farming practices and stakeholders in the area.

SERT and our partners want to engage with local farmers to better understand their practices, to point them to the support and advice available, and to ask them what additional support they would like.

Farm surveys are proving a useful tool for gathering this information and CSF is circulating a leaflet to signpost farmers to useful guidance and support.

The River Eden Catchment

Find out more

If you are a landowner or farmer that is interested in supporting this work and shaping future work in the catchment, email our project officer Tom Harrisson to arrange a farm survey.

On completion of the survey your name will be entered into a Prize Draw, with the chance of winning £100 of Amazon vouchers.

We are also hosting a breakfast for farmers on 25th January 2023 at Bough Beech, with talks from: SERT, SES Water, CSF and FWAG on the support available from each organisation.

If you are interested in the event or would like to sign up, please visit the event’s webpage.

SERT has huge experience engaging with farmers and landowners

Other farm support and advice

CSF provides farmers with free impartial advice with one-to-one farm visits, workshops and events, and support farmers with funding applications.

SERT is an expert in advising on and delivering Nature-based Solutions for water, such as wetlands and riparian buffers, that both enhance river health and provide benefits to farm businesses.

FWAG carries out farm visits to support farmers to protect and enhance the environmental assets on their land.

If you are interested in learning more on farming practice that safeguards rivers and their water quality, you can:

Workshops and events are effective tools for collaboration

Thanks to our supporters