Businesses need water - but this is a resource they can no longer take for granted. Freshwater ecosystems are the fastest declining of all ecosystems and the way we currently manage our water resources just isn't sustainable. Growing populations and climate change are adding more pressure and make future water supplies uncertain. The population of England and Wales is expected to increase by 9.6million people by the 2030s and forecasts suggest climate change could increase the demand for irrigation in the UK by 160%.

Only 14% of English rivers are healthy and one-third of poor health pressures are caused by agricultural production. There would be a potential £8.5billion boost for the economy if three-quarters of rivers and lakes in England were healthy. Through WaterLIFE, we engaged with businesses to help improve their practices and developed tools and guidelines to help them understand their water risk and how to become a good water steward. These are set out below:


This report offers businesses guidelines to help manage water risk and identify opportunities. It focuses on how water risks are already affecting businesses, and ways in which companies can contribute positively to reducing them.

The report supports businesses by setting out the rationale for action, both in the UK and internationally. It offers practical advice and examples, from here and abroad, to inspire businesses to become better water stewards.

Becoming a Good Water Steward: Guidance for the Food and Drink Industry in England

This guidance is designed to offer practical advice for operational staff in the food and drink industry in England, based on WWF’s water stewardship framework. It supports businesses become good water stewards by outlining the 5 steps for businesses to follow to better manage freshwater environments.

  1. Be aware of your impact
  2. Identify the practical actions you can take and implement them
  3. Work with your suppliers
  4. Work with others in the catchment and take action together
  5. Create lasting change

The Benefits of getting involved in agri-environment schemes

To help farm advisors, businesses and others encourage more farmers to get involved in agri-environment initiatives, we have produced a guidance sheet, based on research as well as experience from working with farmers. This guidance offers quick and helpful solutions to overcome potential challenges:

  • Stress the agronomic advantage
  • Be crystal clear about the benefits to the farmer
  • Celebrate farming achievements and successes
  • Identify key agricultural champions


Water risks aren’t something businesses or other groups experience in isolation, and therefore collaboration and partnership working are essential. It is highly likely other businesses operating in the same catchment face similar issues, and will benefit from the same actions as you. 

In England, the CaBA provides a framework to work with others to improve water management more widely, increase your resilience, and encourage your suppliers to do the same. 

CaBA groups are different all across England. Some are very advance with long-established infrastructures. Others are just starting, and could really benefit from your support and involvement.


Water Risk Filter

The WWF Water Risk Filter is designed to help businesses understand where its main water risks might be and, importantly, what action can be taken to address them. Water, or the lack of it, can directly affect company profits and, in turn, investor confidence. This tool helps companies and investors ask the right questions about water.

Water Stewardship Service

In April 2017, a Water Stewardship Service was set up to help businesses work together to deliver sustainable solutions for water. This Service enables businesses to work effectively with the 108 catchment partnerships to implement on the ground activities that contribute to the sustainability of both the water environment and the businesses involved. The Service provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for tools, knowledge and access to local expertise for businesses who want to be good water stewards.

Find out more or contact the Water Stewardship Manager


The Catchment-Based Approach website is designed to showcase the work of catchment partnerships aross England and Wales and to encourage the sharing and adoption of best practice in stakeholder-led catchment managment planning, delivery and evaluation.


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