Our rivers and water systems are vital for life. They provide water for us to drink and grow crops, power our industries, and provide us with tranquil places to explore and enjoy. Today though, our rivers are under threat - and so is the wildlife that inhabits them. The climate crisis; a growing population; and intensive farming, development and industry needs are perpetually adding to the over abstraction of our water environments. It is vitally important that we find the right balance between our daily water needs and nature. Our water environment is a precious resource that we must preserve for the future prosperity of wildlife, people and businesses.
To debate these issues we are delighted to welcome a panel of water experts to the University of Bath. The panel will look to discuss the current state of UK Rivers and the levels of biodiversity loss that we are witnessing; and the challenges and choices we face to protect and improve our rivers. How do we find a better balance that protects people and nature? What role should water companies play?
Ruth Barden is Director of Environmental Strategy at Wessex Water. She has over 20 years’ experience in the water industry, particularly focused on environmental and wastewater aspects.
David Dangerfield is Director of Water, Land and Biodiversity at the Environment Agency, responsible for leading their work on water quality, water quantity, farming, contaminated land, wildlife and fisheries.
Richard Higgs is the Programme Manager of Riverlands at the National Trust, a £13 million programme of catchment work at 12 projects in partnership with Environment Agency.
Dr Rose O’Neill is Natural England’s Principal Specialist for People and the Environment. Rose leads social science in Natural England, and specialises in behaviour change.
The panel will be chaired by Professor Jan Hofman, Director of the Water, Innovation and Research Centre at the University of Bath.