What we’ve done

We worked with farmers, landowners and the local community to deliver environmental improvements that will improve water quality in the Crookhurst Beck catchment and Allonby Bathing Water. A Lancaster University PhD project monitored the impact of our work.

The Ellenwise project was a partnership with United Utilities, and is part of their ‘Catchment Wise’ pilot project – a new integrated catchment-based approach to tackling water quality issues in lakes, rivers and coastal waters across the North West.

Traditionally, United Utilities’ approach to meeting water quality objectives has been to invest in facilities such as water treatment works, but this is expensive and carbon-intensive. This project was a trial to establish whether working across the wider catchment provided a more sustainable approach to improving water quality.

The Ellenwise project ran from 2013 to 2019 and our work on it inspired the follow-up Crookhurst Water Environment Grant project.

Project progress

We worked with over 20 farmers and landowners across the catchment to identify areas which pose a pollution risk and create appropriate agricultural solutions. Examples include:

  • fencing to keep out livestock and create buffer strips along the streams
  • guttering and downspouts to divert clean water away from dirty yard areas
  • creating machinery wash-down areas and catchment tanks
  • improvements to manure storage 

Fencing to create a buffer strip, and new guttering and rainwater harvest tanks 

Improvements to manure storage infrastructure, and a machinery wash-down area

Throughout the project, Lancaster University PhD student Josh Gittins visited the catchment to monitor water quality at various locations. Josh is in the final stages of his PhD and his final findings, including the benefits the agricultural solutions have had on water quality, will be published soon.

Josh installing a water quality monitor in Westnewton Beck, and setting up an in-stream experiment in Patten Beck

Funders and partners

The project was funded by United Utilities and was a partnership between United Utilities and West Cumbria Rivers Trust with support from the Environment Agency, Lancaster University and Catchment Sensitive Farming.