South West Water is collaborating on a Net Zero research centre to tackle global environmental challenges.

The Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the water utility, the University of Exeter and Research England.

CREWW combines experts from South West Water and University of Exeter academics under one roof to explore how to manage precious natural resources in ways which are sustainable, innovative and resilient.

South West Water is investing £21 million into CREWW, recognising that the need for collaboration on important environmental issues has never been greater.

Climate change is unfolding rapidly and is affecting the world’s water in complex ways. From unpredictable rainfall patterns to shrinking ice sheets, rising sea levels, floods and droughts – most impacts of climate change come down to water – whether a cause or an effect.

CREWW’s research will future-proof water systems to cope with floods, droughts, and pollutants including microplastics, and make a real difference to peoples’ lives and the environment regionally, nationally and globally.

The leading collaboration is already developing ways to analyse microplastics in the water cycle and how to tackle them, alleviating ground water filtration into sewers which will help reduce the use of storm overflows, as well as addressing many other challenges facing water globally..

Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer South West Water, said, “We have made history by opening this fantastic facility, bringing together the best minds across the water sector and academia, and based here in the South West.

“Seeing the progress already made, I am very clear that if there is a collaboration that can fix even one of the global water challenges we face, it’s this one.

“I believe, to make a real difference in the world, investments cannot just be about places, and facilities such as this, it’s about the people who make it happen – this is where I know CREWW will lead the way.”

Professor Lisa Roberts, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter, added, “CREWW is bringing together the expertise of the water industry with our academics from across multiple disciplines at the University of Exeter, to develop a shared understanding of water supply issues, so that we can co-create engineering, nature, economic and behaviour-based solutions that will make a lasting positive impact to communities and ecosystems around the world.”

The state-of-the-art equipment and specialist labs, including a sophisticated microbiology lab, will allow the CREWW team to make huge strides in analysing microplastics in South West Water’s operations, to understand the impact of these pollutants on ecosystems and discover solutions to create sustainable water networks for future generations.

Created and funded in partnership by the University of Exeter and South West Water, CREWW has received a further grant of a £10.5m UKRPIF grant from Research England.

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