As Severn Trent’s team of river rangers celebrate the first anniversary in their role, we caught up with Karl James and Joanna Brocklehurst-Smith, who are dedicated to protecting rivers in Nottinghamshire.
The team of ten rangers cover the Severn Trent region and works closely with partners across the region to focus on improving river health and boosting biodiversity along stretches of the Midland’s rivers.
As well as educating customers to prevent wipes and sanitary products from reaching rivers, Karl and Joanna carry out vital operational, monitoring and sampling activities that allows the company to understand the quality of river in its region better than ever before, and what’s needed to protect and improve them.
Karl, who had worked for Severn Trent for 30 years previously as a ranger at the company’s visitor sites, said: “I’m a mad fisherman and have always been an outdoors person so rivers are very important to me – I’ve spent my whole life on the Derwent.
“One aspect of the job I really enjoy is engaging with local groups who love the rivers we look to protect such as joining local fishing groups on litter picks along stretches of river. We’ve also taken children to the waterside to pond dip to show what wildlife there is in the river – spreading the word on how important it is to keep rivers healthy.”
In addition to the company’s river ranger team Severn Trent launched its Get River Positive commitments in March 2022 to provide a clear and actionable response to calls for a revival of rivers in England.
The company has committed that its operations will not be the reason for any stretch of river in the whole Severn Trent region to be classified as unhealthy by 2030. According to Environment Agency data, Severn Trent is currently responsible for 17% of reasons for rivers in its region not achieving good ecological status with the remaining 83% of reasons attributed to other sectors.
Joanna said: “People that we meet out and about and speak to are really interested in the work we’re doing. It’s great to be able to explain what we do and while Severn Trent doesn’t own the region’s rivers, our team is just one example of how seriously Severn Trent is taking this matter.
“I love being surrounded by water every day and I’d encourage anyone that sees either myself or Karl out and about to come and say hello and we’d be more than happy to explain the work we’re doing and the impact it will have.”