The River Keepers Project is all about 1) citizen-led stewardship of our rivers and 2) changing our relationship to and understanding of water in our bioregion. Based in South Devon, the project it is built on a multi-stakeholder partnership initiated by three key ‘backbone’ organisations – the Westcountry Rivers Trust, the South Devon Catchments Partnership and the Bioregional Learning Centre.

Recently, an Enforcement Undertaking (EU) has led to South West Water (SWW) offering to pay Westcountry Rivers Trust £350,000 to help a Devon river recover from serious pollution that wiped out the local fish population. This payment has been accepted by the Environment Agency as an alternative to prosecution and will benefit urban watercourses in the Plymouth area, including the Tamerton stream.

BLC will be working with Westcountry Rivers Trust to raise awareness of pollution problems on Plymouth’s urban streams through a pilot River Keepers project.

The idea comes in response to turbid, polluted rivers; the rapid loss of native species; topsoil run-off into rivers due to extreme rainfall; a need to reverse the focus on cities over rural communities, and at a time when the true impacts of Brexit on the environment, particularly farming, are only beginning to be grasped. This initiative is designed to create the will in citizens to take sustained, appropriate action in caring for their natural heritage. In summary, it is about collective responsibility for the precious resource of water.

The actions outlined in the diagram below comprise 10 components, which will differ in scope and combination according to location. The intent is that each community of interest will determine the outcomes that make sense to them, while guidance and support will be given by the project team and the South Devon Catchments Partnership.


During the development of the River Keepers Project a graphic was created to bring the ethos and ambition of the idea to life…