Utility offering funds for charitable organisations to improve their local water environment.

The River Esk flows under Wha House Bridge in Upper Eskdale, Cumbria (image credit: Mick Knapton).

United Utilities has launched a new grant scheme aimed at helping charities to improve their local river catchment for the benefit of the community.

The CaST Account will help to encourage partnership working, says the utility, bringing together different people, ideas and interventions to create multiple benefits for society.

United Utilities’ says its CaST (Catchment Systems Thinking) approach, which looks at a river catchment as an entire system rather than a series of isolated issues, has already brought multiple benefits such as pollutant reduction and flood risk management along watercourses in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Now the company says it wants to extend the idea across the North West region by encouraging partnerships and community groups to get involved, with grants of up to £50,000 available.

United Utilities Environment Director Jo Harrison said: “We’re a water company, and the water environment is critical to our business and the society we serve. For more than 15 years United Utilities has been pioneering in our partnership approach to landscape and reservoir catchment improvements.

“The Government has set out its 25-year Environment Plan, to improve the quality of our environment, and now we have the drive to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic. Ofwat has indicated the importance of collaborative working in its Time To Act Together strategy. We are all working towards the same goals and that’s why we want to encourage other organisations across the North West by providing this financial backing.

“Through this approach we will utilise natural capital decision making to enable us to consider balancing the requirements for water resources, flooding, water quality and biodiversity. This in turn will allow us to provide greater benefits to customers through delivering wider environmental improvements, as well as making us more efficient through delivering work in partnership with others.”

The application process for the CaST Account is now open. United Utilities wants to hear about projects which demonstrate:

  • Engagement with nature: ability to demonstrate a social element to the activity, such as community engagement in delivery or educational focus.
  • Promoting natural capital markets: ability to demonstrate engagement of commercial interests in at least some of their funding and/or using markets to bring together potential funders of interventions with those who can deliver them.