Poaka, Duddon & Levers Water Catchment Assessments

A partnership project between United Utilities and South Cumbria Rivers Trust has been developed to understand the potential drinking water risk to Poaka & Pennington Reservoirs above Dalton-in-Furness, the Duddon catchment above the extraction point at Ulpha, and Levers Water above Coniston. These drinking water supplies all have issues relating to the surrounding catchments and widespread diffuse pollution leading to problems with algal blooms and high levels of herbicides and fertilisers. Although, there are issues in these catchments there is no risk to the drinking water quality at your tap, this is due to the stringent standards which need to be met to ensure water is safe to drink before it reaches your tap. However, it affects the availability of the supply of drinking water and the associated processing costs and it is therefore important to minimise these risks at source. As the risks are widespread it is important to identify and prioritise the highest risk areas, whether this be due to the topography of the surrounding land, the infrastructure or local management practices.

These catchments are to be designated as Drinking Water Safeguard Zones in 2020 with the first steps in this designation process already underway. Safeguard Zones are catchment areas which influence the water quality at a drinking water abstraction point, i.e. all the areas upstream of the abstraction point, and which is at risk of failing the drinking water protection objectives. Therefore, this project will under-take initial assessments including desk-based studies based on available evidence and walkover surveys out in the catchment to identify the risks. We will also be working with Catchment Sensitive Farming (Natural England) and the Environment Agency, as well as linking to some of our local community catchment partnerships and other initiatives in the area, this helps to maximise resources and expertise to deliver the most for these areas.

Following the initial assessments, a number of suggested actions will be proposed which may include options such as further soil testing, increasing buffer strips and supporting farm infrastructure. These will all be developed with the support of local landowners.