New cross-collaborative partnership set up to tackle the environmental challenges facing Windermere

Credit: PA

A new partnership has been set up to tackle the environmental challenges facing Windermere.

Love Windermere brings together businesses and environmental groups, who will work to protect the lake for future generations

Nutrients, climate change, more extreme weather patterns and the seasonal variations of the tourist population are all predicted to put the lake and its water quality under increasing pressure in the coming years.

This increase of the annual surface temperature average is leading to conditions that favour the growth of algae and reduce levels of oxygen.

The Love Windermere partnership has members from a broad range of sectors with the range of expertise and influence needed to bring about action.

The group is developing evidence-based, long-term plans to maintain and improve water quality in the lake while balancing the needs of nature, the community and the local economy.

Led by the Environment Agency, the partnership includes:

  • The Freshwater Biological Association

  • Lake District Foundation

  • Lake District National Park Authority

  • National Farmers Union

  • National Trust

  • South Cumbria Rivers Trust

  • United Utilities.

One of the first aims of Love Windermere is to collect more scientific evidence to understand which solutions will be most effective.

"Love Your Lake - The Big Windermere Survey" took place on Sunday 26 June, with 100 volunteers sampling water at various points around the lake and its tributaries.

The results will help experts at Lancaster University and the Freshwater Biological Association to produce the largest ever one-day snapshot of conditions in Windermere.

Actions are also taking place to understand what local people think.

The Environment Agency recently hosted a citizens' panel to engage with the community and raise awareness of the challenges affecting the lake - more than 20 residents got involved and gave their views.

Other activities this summer led by the partnership include:

  • South Cumbria Rivers Trust is working with volunteers to restore reed beds around the north of the lake, encouraging natural processes to remove nutrients from the lake sediment.

  • The Lake District Foundation is working with owners of septic tanks to develop community emptying schemes and share tips about how to best manage private sewerage systems.

  • United Utilities is working with food outlets and restaurants in and around Windermere with tips to avoid constricting sewers with fatty waste which can lead to sewage spilling into the environment.

  • South Cumbria Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency are trialling innovative technology that if successful could be used to remove nutrients from septic tank effluent at a relatively low cost.

  • The Environment Agency will take samples and monitor water quality at four bathing water locations on Windermere until the end of the bathing water season in September, while farm inspections across the catchment will continue to focus on reducing diffuse pollution.

It is hoped that the collaborative approach demonstrated through Love Windermere could set out a blueprint for improving the health of rivers and lakes across the UK.

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