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What is Upstream Thinking?

cupping hands of water

Where does your tap water come from? After the rain falls from the skies, what happens to it?

Here in the South West, many of our reservoirs are up on the moors, and we transport raw water using the natural river network.

We then treat raw water with chemicals to remove bacteria, pesticides and colour . But what if the raw water was relatively free from these things in the first place?

Upstream Thinking is a vision to restore raw water sources and keep them free from pollutants. The projects outlined here each make up an element of our long-term aim, which is to reduce the chemicals, cost and energy needed to produce the top quality tap water on which we all depend.

Peat bog work holds water
Restoration of peat bogs on Exmoor has resulted in a third less water leaving the moorland during heavy rainfall compared with three years ago, a new study shows.

Dr David Smith with water-retaining sphagnum moss
South West Water and its partners are in the process of restoring the peat bogs of Exmoor, which had previously been drained.

By blocking up drainage ditches, the moorland can now hold more water and release it more slowly, reducing potential flooding elsewhere and improving water quality.

In order to evaluate whether the restoration program has been successful so far, Professor Richard Brazier and his team of researchers at the University of Exeter were tasked with monitoring the hydrology, water quality and carbon storage within two experimental sites located on Exmoor.

Read more>>Peat bog restoration work holds back water, scientists say

Did you know?
Worldwide peatlands are huge carbon stores, but damaged areas release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere through oxidation processes.

carbon capture and storage
Restoration halts oxidation and promotes active peat growth thus increasing the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere.

The restoration of peatlands could play a major role in mitigating against atmospheric CO2 rises.

Exe Valley aerial view
The ongoing mapping of peatland ditches and cuttings from old air-photographs has identified a possible 150 further sites with damaged or drying peatland, covering over 2,000 hectares.

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