Water and its stewardship is at the heart of our business at Coca-Cola. Not just in Great Britain, but worldwide. To celebrate World Water Week, we’re taking a closer look at some of our local projects and partnerships that are helping to replenish our waterways, ensure our ingredients are farmed more sustainably and enrich habitats and communities.

#WorldWaterWeek

WWF-UK and Coca-Cola have been working together to secure a thriving future for English rivers since 2012, with a programme of restoration and conservation work on two important chalk stream rivers – the Nar and the Cray. In 2015, we expanded that partnership in a new three-year programme to scale up our water-sensitive farming work across a wider area of East Anglia and into two major catchment areas: the Cam Ely Ouse and the Broadlands.

We’re working hard to protect England’s unique chalk streams – 81% of which are currently failing ecological health standards. Chalk streams are streams that flow through chalk hills towards the sea. They're important for our local ecosystems and wildlife because they are home to some of our most threatened plants and animals, such as the water vole and brown trout.

This is all part of our commitment to ensure all of the main agricultural ingredients used in our drinks (and in their production) are sourced sustainably by 2020 – from water to sugar beet.

In 2017, the scope of the work was extended through a further partnership with The Rivers Trust to support some water replenishment projects that aim to transform London and the South East. Believe it or not, these are the most water-stressed parts of the UK due to their dense population, demand from businesses and urban pollution.

Here are three of the projects that will help to reduce pollution, replenish wetlands and help create new homes for wildlife…

What’s the project?
Working under the guidance of the team at The Rivers Trust, we’re supporting water charity Thames21 and Enfield Council to create a 0.3-hectare wetland in Broomfield Park, North London. That’s the equivalent of more than 25 football fields.

The project will improve water quality in the nearby Pymmes Brook, a tributary of the Lower River Lea. It’s currently one of the most polluted waterways in the UK.

The view across Broomfield Park

What will we do?
At the moment, there’s a surface-water sewer running through Broomfield Park. This is a largely urban area, which unfortunately has meant the water nearby has become heavily polluted.

The project will divert the surface water flow away from the sewer pipe and into a newly-constructed wetland, which will be planted with reeds, marginal flowers and grasses. This new habitat should attract amphibians, insects and birds.

What are the benefits?
As well as helping to revive the nearby wetland and reduce the amount of pollution in Pymmes Brook, the project will also lower flood risk. This is because 2,500m3 of floodwater can be stored in the wetland and released slowly over time.  The wetland will start to provide a new habitat for animals, insects and birds – increasing bio-diversity in the area.

As our Edmonton factory is nearby, Coca-Cola employees will be invited to join in with the local community and volunteer their time to help plant the wetland. Once completed, we’re hoping it will become an enjoyable new part of the public park.


What’s the project?
We’re building a water purifier, aka a ‘Downstream Defender’. The Beverley Brook flows through both Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park in southwest London. Despite having the characteristics of a rural river in places, the brook is polluted by urban contamination running off busy roads and nearby housing estates. After particularly heavy rain, the water literally looks black.

This pollution has meant that the plant, insect and fish life of the river has suffered. The brook also runs into the Thames, so tackling the problem earlier on is helping reduce the amount of pollution there.

Richmond Park where the ‘downstream defender’ is located

What will we do?
The South-East Rivers Trust has installed this ‘Downstream Defender’ – a 9m high hydrodynamic vortex chamber (basically like a massive drum with a spiral chamber inside) – through which dirty urban surface runoff flows and its centrifugal force separates out the various pollutants which are trapped, leaving the clean water to run out into the Brook

What are the benefits?
This one defender receives runoff from 70 hectares (to give you an idea of size, the whole of the Vatican State is only 44 hectares). Most of this runoff is from high-pollution areas, including a nearby estate and major road. Pollution within this runoff will be stopped before it reaches Beverley Brook, improving the health of the river for the benefit of local communities and wildlife. Once this particular defender’s benefits have been evaluated, The Rivers Trust hope that it will be something which can be rolled out elsewhere.

What’s the project?
Kent Wildlife Trust is aiming to restore and enhance Kent’s last remaining ancient semi-natural fenland (or marshland), Ham Fen. Fens are wetlands made of peat, plants and water combined.

Located near Sandwich in Kent, it is home to an array of rare species, such as dragonflies, damselflies, bumblebees and beavers.

Sadly, much of the original fen habitat has been lost through drainage and conversion to intensive grassland, which is grass that has been specially grown to feed farm animals like cows. This has also resulted in the regional extinction of hundreds of species.

The Ham Fen ancient semi-natural fenland

What will we do?
The project will focus on increasing the volume of water retained within the marshland and restoring the water table so that the dry surface of peat becomes saturated again, boosting plants and wildlife.

The quality of water flowing into the fen will also be tackled, reducing the input of sediment and chemicals. Various techniques will be used, including creating dams, the planting of reeds and the creation of ‘scrapes’ – shallow depressions that hold water seasonally.

What are the benefits?
Restoring this ancient fen will boost biodiversity. Replenishing the water will help to revitalise the fen and encourage rare plants and wildlife to flourish. This will not only benefit local farmers, but also local communities who will be able to visit the fen and enjoy its surroundings once again.

Find out more about the work we’re doing to replenish water, locally and globally.