Watch our film to see how we’ve helped to protect and restore unique English chalk streams in the first year of our partnership with Coca-Cola.
Today is World Water Day – a chance to celebrate the vital importance of fresh water. It’s a double celebration for us, because it’s also the first anniversary of our freshwater partnership with Coca-Cola. Together we’ve already made some great progress in helping to restore English rivers. For example, we’re working to improve the health of the River Nar, in the Norfolk countryside. The Nar is one of only 200 chalk streams in the world, over two thirds of which are here in the UK.
The Nar is a site of special scientific interest. In its healthiest stretches the river’s water is pure and clear and teeming with wildlife. It’s home to otters, water voles, trout and kingfishers.
But not all of the Nar is thriving. Some of it is suffering because too much water has been taken from the river to support domestic water supplies and agriculture. And it’s impacted by pollution – mainly pesticides and fertiliser from local farms. In many stretches of the river, this has resulted in the disappearance of the species traditionally found along chalk streams.
The Nar flows through an area where around 80% of the sugar beets used in the drinks Coca-Cola manufactures in the UK is grown. Through our partnership, and our work to help reduce the negative impact of farming on the river, Coke is showing a pioneering commitment to improve the sustainability of the supply chain for its drinks in the UK.
Together, we’re helping to restore the river to its natural, meandering state in places where it’s been artificially changed over the years to flow in straight trenches. This restoration helps the river and surrounding meadows work more harmoniously together in times of flood. And it makes the river a more attractive home for wildlife.
We're addressing the issue of pollution and sedimentation that seeps into the river from local farms, causing excessive algal growth and smothering gravles - which destroys natural wildlife habitats and prevents fish spawning. For example,we're working with farmers to find ways to reduce agricultural pollution by implementing more sustainable farming methods such as altering the times of ploughing and leaving buffer strips around fields to help capture pollution running off the fields before it enters the river.
We’re also working with the Norfolk Rivers Trust to develop a plan for the Nar and its catchment area that outlines how to manage the river so it’ll have the best chance of flourishing. And the project is demonstrating what good river management can look like – so across the country others can follow suit.
Much more needs to be done in the coming years to help bring English rivers back from the brink.
But after our first year we’ve made some great strides towards our goal, and we’re already seeing positive impacts on the ground.