What’s happening

It’s a big job but Love Windermere partners are collaborating in the following areas to make a difference:

Science, Data and Evidence: Knowledge is key so we’re continuing to build and maintain the evidence base for the current state of the Windermere catchment. This involves identifying the gaps in knowledge and setting research priorities to help support and direct future collaborative work activity. 

Long-term Management Plan: A long-term management plan is being created for Windermere and the land surrounding it (the catchment) through a process of stakeholder and public engagement and the best available science.  This plan will include a suite of collaborative projects that aim to solve the overarching issue of phosphorus in the catchment, tackling the multiple sources. The plan will focus on strategic future activity, collaborative working and ensure long term funding.  An outline for the plan will be created by the Environment Agency.

Wastewater treatment (mains):  Continuing to maintain high standards of wastewater treatment in the Windermere catchment, striving for process excellence in water industry operations and proactively supporting investigations to identify future improvements in wastewater treatment. This work is being led by United Utilities.

Read more about United Utilities and its work around Windermere.

Read more about storm overflows: https://www.unitedutilities.com/corporate/responsibility/environment/reducing-pollution/storm-overflows/

Non-mains drainage:  This area of work supports the Environment Agency’s routine regulatory work on the catchment.  We need to ensure all non-mains drainage such as private septic tanks or package treatment plants are operating effectively.  We will develop local advice and guidance, including details of new and innovative practices that enhance performance and reduces the phosphorus inputs of non-mains drainage systems into watercourses.  This work is being led by the South Cumbria Rivers Trust.                          

Read more about the Water is Life project: https://scrt.co.uk/what-we-do/current-projects/windermere-water-is-life-project/           

Land Management: Helping to collate evidence for the current state of the Windermere catchment as it relates to land management. This will improve our collective understanding of diffuse phosphate pollution and help develop a suite of interventions for the farming community and other land managers that further reduces phosphate run-off into the catchment. This work is being led by the Lake District National Park Authority.

Read more about the Revere project: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/aboutus/media-centre/latest-news/news-releases/new-partnership-aims-to-boost-the-beauty-of-windermere

Read more about reed bed restoration: https://scrt.co.uk/what-we-do/habitat-improvement/reedbed-restoration/

Sustainable Future Finance: Developing a sustainable economic model that drives investment and funding into Windermere and its catchment, to support the delivery of the long-term management plan for the lake.  This work is being led by the Lake District Foundation.

Separate to this partnership working, the Environment Agency (EA) has a regulatory role, as the environmental regulator for England:

The EA implement regulations and standards set out by Government and follow the Regulator’s Code  and the Seven Principles of Public Life.   

Regulation is at the heart of EA’s work to improve lakes, rivers and coastal areas. They focus their efforts on places where they can have the greatest impact and are guided by scientific data and evidence. There are two strands to this work including monitoring and evidence; compliance and permit reviews and the EA has set out a number of actions for Lake Windermere and the Leven catchment over the next 12 months.  

From April 2023 to March 2024 the EA will:  

  • Assess the impact of all pollution incidents and use the information to plan and prioritise our work.  They will attend the most serious incidents – categorised as 1 and 2.
  • Take water samples on a monthly basis, with the results periodically reviewed to identify emerging trends and issues. Results will be made available online, at a location TBC, as soon as possible. This webpage will be updated at that time. 
  • Enable and support investigations into pollution hotspots.  There will be an initial focus on Cunsey Beck, Mill Beck, Blelham Beck and River Brathay at Skelwith Bridge where the EA will deliver actions to resolve the pollution problems.   
  • Start a review of a minimum of five water company and ten non-water company environmental permits in the Windermere catchment, with priority given to larger discharges. The EA will be assessing if each permit is still adequate to protect the environment.   
  • Deliver a programme of ten farm inspections to ensure compliance with silage, slurry and Agricultural Fuel Oil Regulations and the Farming Rules for Water.   
  • Review all 2022 water company Event Duration Monitoring (EDM) data submissions for compliance with environmental permit conditions.  As the work progresses information can be requested from inforequests.cmblnc@environment-agency.gov.uk. 
  • Where problems are identified at permitted sites, the EA will work to ensure that improvements are made.  Five locations will be selected for more in-depth audits. As works progresses information can be requested from inforequests.cmblnc@environment-agency.gov.uk.