Secondment with United Utilities: Dan Turner
For the second time today, the alarm goes off, red lights flashing, I have tailgated again, skipping the automated barrier. I am struggling to adjust. For the last 8 years of my life, I haven’t needed an Internal ID badge to open a security door, just a good pair of wellies and a waterproof jacket.
Anyway, here I am, a few months into a 2 day a week, 18-month secondment from the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust to United Utilities. Helping to identify ways water companies and Rivers Trusts can work more effectively together. It’s a totally different world, but I welcome the challenge.
I guess there are a lot of similarities between the objectives of Rivers Trusts and Water Companies. At the end of the day, we are both trying to strive for healthy water environments that provide clean water. Clean water is a key investment driver for water companies, and the approach has traditionally been to tackle these issues end of pipe, through civil engineering solutions or intensive chemical treatment processes. But the tide is starting to turn, with some companies like United Utilities wondering if this is the most cost-effective approach?
Rivers Trusts understand the importance of taking a catchment approach to ensure a better water environment and the wider benefits it provides. The river and catchment cannot be decoupled. United Utilities is on the same page, looking at ways integrated catchment management can help to reduce the burden on treatment works, while also providing several other environmental, social and economic benefits.
This provides a brilliant opportunity for North West Rivers Trust’s and United Utilities to work more collaboratively to deliver common objectives. However, this is often hard to achieve in a system that is set up to deliver traditional approaches.
The role of this secondment is to try to understand the issues that make it hard to adopt a new approach. Break down the barriers which prevent better partnership working and emphasise the great work and capability of the Rivers Trust movement.
Over the last few weeks, I have visited all the Rivers Trusts in the North West. It has been a hugely inspiring experience to hear and see the diversity and breadth of projects. The achievements and aspirations of all the Trusts. I think it’s a really exciting time in the movement and provides a real opportunity for change that ensures our rivers and environment are valued and looked after.
This blog was supported by the EU LIFE IP Natural Course project.