South East Rivers Trust (& the Wandle Trust)


PROWATER is an exciting European-funded partnership project aiming to address the impacts of climate change and enhance the availability of raw water for people and the environment.

The PROWATER project is funded by the Interreg 2 Seas European Regional Development Fund and involves cross border cooperation between ten partners from the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands. 


Why is it needed?

The south east of England is one of the driest parts of the UK, classified as seriously water stressed by the Environment Agency. 

A river in distress

Climate projections for the 2 Seas area point towards drier and warmer summers with more extreme and concentrated precipitation events in the form of summer storms. This could result in a higher demand for water production.

For the south east of England, this will be a huge challenge. The region is already the most densely populated in the UK, with high population growth of up to 14% by 2024 predicted. Many of our rivers and their aquifers are already over-abstracted for freshwater, so the prospect of higher demand is a serious concern. 


How will PROWATER help?

The cross-border project PROWATER stands for ‘PROtecting and restoring raw WATER sources through actions at the landscape scale’. It will contribute to climate adaptation by restoring the whole landscape’s ability to store water through careful catchment management. For example, soils will be improved to reduce compaction, changes in land use will be implemented to encourage the recharge of underground aquifers, and natural water storage in the landscape restored to slow the flow and increase rainfall infiltration. These are all examples of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) measures. 

The benefits of these EbA measures will be identified so that a ‘Payment for Ecosystem Services’ model can be developed. Based on this model, organisations that take measures to combat water scarcity can receive compensation from those benefiting from such schemes.  In return, they provide services to society by improving the quality of the living environment.

Over its four years, the project will deliver:

  1. Policy guidance on how to develop a rewarding scheme for EbA measures that promotes infiltration and restoration, and how to identify buyers, brokers and sellers and set up partnerships, including recommendations on ethical, political, juridical and organisational challenges.
  2. A tool for spatial prioritisation and evaluation of EbA measures and a tool to quantify the co-benefits of EbA measures.
  3. A long-term assessment and vision on water demand and supply challenges in the region making use of participatory approaches (workshops & meetings).
  4. Implementation of EbA measures at three pilot areas to showcase effective implementation on the ground.


Cross-border cooperation

From November 2017 up to August 2022, 10 partners from Flanders, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are working together on PROWATER.  In each country, water companies, governments and research institutes, as well as land managers, are involved in order to achieve a supported vision.

The partners from Flanders are: de Vlaamse Overheid (Departement Omgeving), Universiteit Antwerpenprovincie Antwerpen, PIDPA and Natuurpunt

The partner from the Netherlands is: Waterschap Brabantse Delta

The partners from the United Kingdom are: Westcountry Rivers Trust, Kent County Council, South East Water and South East Rivers Trust.


The project receives 3.315.974 € through the Interreg 2 Seas Fund (ERDF) to work on climate adaptation and to increase resilience against droughts and extreme precipitation based on ecosystem services. Interreg 2 seas is a European territorial cooperation program for the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders).