Independent not-for-profit investigative journalism in the public interest

WATERSHED partners with national and international media to run high impact articles and investigations focusing on all aspects of the water crisis: pollution, resources, over-abstraction, wildlife, public health, environmental justice, and the impacts of climate change

‘Dirty secret’: insiders say UK water firms knowingly break sewage laws

The Guardian

Whistleblowers say UK water companies are knowingly failing to treat legally required amounts of sewage, and that some treatment works are manipulating wastewater systems to divert raw sewage away from the works and into rivers and seas.

Rapidly rising levels of TFA ‘forever chemical’ alarm experts

The Guardian

Rapidly rising levels of TFA, a class of “forever chemical” thought to damage fertility and child development, are being found in drinking water, blood and rain, causing alarm among experts.

PFAS investigation now a scientific paper

Environmental Science and Technology

The work of the Forever Pollution Project, of which Watershed is a part, has been published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology. It sets out the methodology used to map PFAS contamination across Europe.

Abandoned pipelines could release poisons into North Sea

THE GUARDIAN

Decaying oil and gas pipelines left to fall apart in the North Sea could release large volumes of poisons such as mercury, radioactive lead and polonium-210.

Cancer-causing PCB chemicals still being produced despite 40-year-old ban

THE GUARDIAN

Industry could be producing more cancer-causing PCB chemicals today than at any other point in history, despite their production having been banned more than 40 years ago.

Watershed releases new documentary ‘TOXIC’

ENDS Report

Watershed has worked with the ENDS Report to produce a new film 'TOXIC: Britain's forever poisoned rivers and seas'. The film can be viewed at endsreport.com/toxic and reveals PFAS pollution hotspots across England, particularly in the Mersey and Wyre.

The scale of PFAS ‘forever chemical’ pollution

The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian, The Guardian

A major investigation focused on widespread pollution by ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS. It launched on the front page of the Guardian and involved seven stories over three days.

Watershed publishes three new podcast episodes

Apple podcasts, Spotify

Watershed has published three new podcast episodes: 'Why hundreds of toxic road runoff outfalls are polluting England's rivers', 'Gaza's water crisis', and 'Toxic: Britian's forever polluted rivers and seas'.

Why Britain is running out of sea

Sunday Times,

For the Sunday Times, Watershed mapped the demands on the seabed around Britain from energy companies to industrial fishing to conservation, highlighting the need for each of the interests to work together to create a win-win for climate, wildlife and people.  

Mersey suffers from major PFAS pollution

The Times

Watershed's article in The Times reports that cancer-causing chemical loads flowing through the River Mersey catchment are among the largest recorded in the world and most of it is coming from sewage works. 

Watershed ‘highly commended’ at British Journalism Awards

PRESS GAZETTE

Watershed was 'highly commended' at British Journalism Awards, in the organisation's first year of operation.

‘Forever chemical’ in English tap water samples carcinogenic, WHO rules

THE GUARDIAN

PFAS found in hundreds of drinking water samples across England has been categorised as carcinogenic by the  World Health Organisation. The move will increase pressure on the UK government to take action on “forever chemicals”.

Environment Agency has nearly halved water-use inspections in last five years

THE GUARDIAN

The Environment Agency has slashed its water-use inspections by almost a half over the past five years, according to data obtained by Watershed.

‘Forever chemicals’ found in drinking water sources across England

The Guardian

Potentially toxic “forever chemicals” have been detected in the drinking water sources at 17 of 18 England’s water companies, with 11,853 samples testing positive, something experts say they are “extremely alarmed” by.

Fury as national health check of England’s waters faces six-year wait

The Guardian, MSN

The government quietly released partial data on the health of England's water bodies, opting not to undertake any testing for problem chemicals, or to assess the condition of any groundwater, coastal, estuary or canal waters until 2025.

Scientific paper based on the Forever Pollution Project

Environmental Science and Technology Letters

A scientific paper based on the Forever Pollution Project on PFAS was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters.

Watershed at Labour Party Conference 2023

Labour Party environment campaign, SERA

Rachel Salvidge gave a speech on chemical threats to rivers and seas at the Labour Party Conference, alongside shadow environment minister Ruth Jones and Francesca Ginley from the Marine Conservation Society at an event hosted by Labour's environment campaign, SERA. 

Rivers at risk if summer drought strikes

The Times

England faces an ecological disaster if a severe drought strikes, with water companies turning to rivers to avoid drinking water shortages. Analysis of water companies' plans reveals huge shortfall in the case of severe drought if no action is taken.

BBC and WATERSHED win coveted science prize

Association of British Science Writers, Apple podcasts

Watershed's PFAS investigation was the subject of the award-winning BBC Costing the Earth documentary.

Scientists call on ministers to cut limits for ‘forever chemicals’ in UK tap water

The Guardian

Acceptable levels of “forever chemicals” in drinking water should be reduced tenfold and a new national chemicals agency created to protect public health, the Royal Society of Chemistry has told the UK government.

Unmonitored toxic road runoff polluting rivers

The Guardian

A toxic cocktail of damaging chemicals created by road pollution is flowing into England’s rivers and no regulator is monitoring the scale of its impact on wildlife or public health.

Watershed makes 2023 Rivers Warriors list

Lewis Pugh Foundation

Watershed is honoured to feature on the Lewis Pugh Foundation's River Warriors list of people who "dedicate themselves to restoring, protecting, recognising and defending our precious river systems".

PODCAST: ‘It’s killing us slowly’: water rationing in Cape Town

Apple podcasts, Spotify

Cape Town teeters on the edge of Day Zero - the time when water will no longer flow from its taps. Cape Town residents say they are desperate, and Professor Hannah Cloke says 'elites' are exacerbating the climate change driven water crisis.

Government slammed over sewage pollution

BBC News

Watershed appeared on BBC News to discuss raw sewage dumping into rivers and on a separate occasion to explain why the Office for Environmental Protection has announced that Defra, the Environment Agency and Ofwat may have all failed to comply with the law.

Farm pollution blocks new homes across country

The Times, The Independent, Evening Standard,

Pollution from farms has prevented housing developments being approved by 35 councils, analysis by The Times and Watershed reveals. 

Firm releases almost 800kg of ‘forever chemical’ a year into Lancashire river

THE GUARDIAN

Exclusive: A chemicals company is releasing large quantities of a PFAS “forever chemical” described as being “very persistent, mobile and toxic” into the River Wyre in Lancashire each year, and is not breaking any rules. 

Sewage spills blamed as E coli forces Cornish shellfish sites to close

Guardian, ITV News

Watershed worked with the Guardian and ITV News to expose high levels of E coli in oysters around the country. “Very high” levels of E coli found in oysters and mussels have led to the closure of 11 shellfish production zones in Cornwall.

‘Concerning’ levels of forever chemicals found in UK fish

Daily Mail, Independent, Evening Standard, Daily Express, Yahoo News, Irish News, ENDS Report, Belfast Telegraph, Hull Daily Mail

Data obtained by Watershed Investigations shows PFAS 'forever chemicals' in England’s wild fish at high levels.

PFAS pollution in drinking water and rivers

Sky News

Watershed Investigations takes to the Thames for Sky News' Climate Show to talk about their investigations into PFAS pollution in drinking water, rivers, sediments and fish.

PODCAST: Drought, flood and re-freezing the Arctic

Spotify, Apple podcasts

Rachel and Leana interview Nyombi Morris who was flooded out of his home in Uganda, where drought and locusts are also causing death and displacement. Then Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to prime ministers Blair, Brown, Cameron and May, explains how he plans to reverse the climate crisis by refreezing the Arctic.

Water missing from climate planning despite threat to billions

Independent, Evening Standard

Water is being overlooked in climate planning and funding, experts have said, despite half the world’s population facing acute water stress by 2030. The UN Secretary-General said “vampiric overuse” and pollution are draining the “precious lifeblood” while climate change is “wreaking havoc”.

Pan-European forever pollution project

Forever Pollution Project

More than 17 000 sites all over Europe are contaminated by the 'forever chemicals' PFAS, an exclusive, months-long investigation from 18 European newsrooms. Watershed sourced multiple datasets and performed its own sampling to build up the UK picture.

Podcast launch! THE WATERSHED INVESTIGATIONS: Tales from the frontline of the water crisis

Spotify, Apple podcasts, Podchaser, Google podcasts

Tales from the frontline of the water crisis. Each episode includes an interview with someone experiencing the crisis first hand, followed by an interview with a world class expert, exploring the causes and possible solutions.

UK ministers under pressure to tighten laws on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Guardian

Pressure is building on UK ministers to tighten regulations on PFAS “forever chemicals” as Watershed's research shows vast numbers of people are drinking water with levels that would be banned in the US.

Forever chemicals in drinking water

The Guardian, BBC Radio 4, The BBC, The Guardian

Water from a supply containing high levels of toxic chemicals was pumped into the homes of more than 1,000 people. Cambridge Water admitted it removed a supply containing four times the regulatory limit of perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS), which was being blended with other supplies to provide water to the homes of customers in south Cambridgeshire.

What you need to know about PFAS

Internazionale Magazine

Internazionale Magazine, the global current affairs weekly, picks up Watershed's PFAS work from the Forever Pollution Project. The article look at the most common sources of exposure to the potential consequences for human health and the environment.

Sewage dumping in British rivers

The Guardian, The ENDS Report, BBC London, BBC London, The Guardian

Untreated sewage was dumped into England's rivers at least 372,544 times in 2021. Exposes of key elements of the sewage scandal, such as how the Environment Agency knew raw sewage was being illegally dumped into rivers, lakes and seas a decade ago.

Evidence bolsters family’s claim that hydrogen cyanide from a landfill killed their son

BBC London, The ENDS Report

A family that has been fighting for seven years to prove that hydrogen cyanide from a landfill killed their son received a boost when incident logs from Public Health England apparently backing their claims were uncovered, prompting a local council to commit to taking a fresh look at the land surrounding the family’s home.

Is the UK absent from the fight against PFAS pollution?

ENDS Report, ENDS Report

Watershed looks at PFAS pollution and why the UK is lagging behind the EU and the US in tackling the problem

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The work of WATERSHED journalists has been published in:

Documentaries by WATERSHED journalists

Thirst for Justice

Bloomberg Quicktake, IMDb, Bullfrog Films, BBC World Service , FOX10 , The Brockovich Report, Raindance Film Festival, The Ecologist, Rotton Tomatoes, British Council, Film Fatales, Mlive , Deadline, We are moving stories

Armed only with facts and their illnesses, extraordinary citizens take on industry and government, risking arrest to protect clean water. From Flint to the Navajo Nation, via Standing Rock, this is their story.

SEVERN: The poisoning of Britain’s Amazon

ENDS Report

In ENDS Report’s film 'SEVERN: The poisoning of Britain’s Amazon', Environment Agency whistleblowers, experts and people who live by and work with the river give their testimonies as to how the river has been allowed to deteriorate and the dire consequences for people and wildlife.

Watershed releases new documentary ‘TOXIC’

ENDS Report

Watershed has worked with the ENDS Report to produce a new film 'TOXIC: Britain's forever poisoned rivers and seas'. The film can be viewed at endsreport.com/toxic and reveals PFAS pollution hotspots across England, particularly in the Mersey and Wyre.

What we do

This is a watershed moment. Rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, coasts, oceans and the wildlife they support are under threat from climate change, pollution and misuse. Drought, flood and sea-level rise makes swathes of land uninhabitable or unproductive. Two-thirds of the global population live in water-stressed areas. Water scarcity leads to conflict. Dirty water leads to dead zones and disease. And yet media coverage of these issues is light when compared with others.

That’s where WATERSHED comes in. Our independent, not-for-profit, investigative journalism shines a light on the water crisis in its many forms, using in-depth, rigorous, evidence-based stories hold the powerful to account, uncover abuses, tell overlooked stories, and champion solutions.

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Watershed - Investigative Journalism