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Chalk Streams like the River Nar are globally rare, with the majority of the 200 odd rivers in the world occurring in England alone, with just a few more in Northern France. Since Roman times these rivers have been modified to be straighter and faster flowing, in order to drain quickly and supply naturally clear and clean water to nearby settlements or for agriculture, yet years of taking too much out giving back only pollution is damaging their future.

WWF and the NRT are working together, with funding and support from Coca-Cola, to help improve the future of this river and to use the lessons to inform and influence the Government's wider water policy which currently does not go far enough to protect these unique ecosystems.

WWF wants the government to tackle the issue of unsustainable water consumption and abstraction that is damaging our countryside and limiting future water supply through the Water Bill currently going through parliament.

Freshwater expert and ecologist Kathy Hughes said;

Chalk Streams such as the River Nar form a unique part of our countryside, our literature and our heritage, yet sadly years of abuse has meant many of them are in decline with some of them even drying up entirely for part of the year. It doesn't have to be like that.

"We can all do more to save water and help save our rivers, but we need the government to stand up for the countryside and our precious waterways by using the Water bill going through parliament to put in place a water management system fit for purpose, now and in the future."

Groups such as the Norfolk Rivers Trust who work with local communities and farmers in their area to improve water use and land management techniques, helping to return rivers to their natural winding states fit for wildlife such as the endangered water vole, brown trout and kingfisher, are vital. The current system of water management in England and Wales is out of date and unable to cope with the demands being placed upon it now, let alone in the future.

Liz Bonnin said;

"Our chalk streams are incredibly precious and rare ecosystems that can support a wonderful diversity of wildlife. I don't think many people realise just how beautiful they can be, or how much damage we have done to them over the years. These streams exist in only two places on earth and we are lucky to be the custodians of the vast majority of them. Let's take responsibility and show we care by allowing them to prosper once more."

Helen Mandley, Farming and Water Project Officer, Norfolk Rivers Trust said;

"The restored stretch of the river Nar shows what we can achieve when communities and groups such as farmers and the Highways county Council work together, reducing pollution entering the waterways and protecting the biodiversity of the rivers. We have achieved a lot but there is more to do. We need to manage our water better and all do our bit to reduce our demands on our beautiful rivers and unique countryside."

WWF wants the Government to deliver a Water Bill that will ensure that protecting the rivers is a key part of legislation alongside protecting public supply, making it fit for the 21st century and able to cope with the demands of people and their environment.

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Editor's notes

Images available on request.

About Coca-Cola and WWF
WWF-UK, Coca-Cola Great Britain and Coca-Cola Enterprises agree that businesses have an important role to play in addressing these issues by reducing the local environmental impacts of the products they produce.

Water is the main ingredient of all Coca-Cola's products and is core to its business. Given that 97.5% of the drinks that Coca-Cola sells in Great Britain are made within its borders, the business is determined to use water in a responsible, sustainable way. Coca-Cola's global goal is to safely return to nature the same amount of water used in making their drinks by 2020. In Great Britain, Coca-Cola will focus its work in areas of water stress. The River Nar was chosen because of the importance of sugar-beet farming in and around the area. The sugar beet grown in Norfolk is sourced by the company to use in some of the drinks which it produces.

WWF-UK has been working to restore England's unique chalk streams: places of both incredible biodiversity and the key source of England's water supply. WWF-UK's work centres on supporting the full implementation of the Water Framework Directive, as well as the development of national policies which better protect our rivers and encourage water efficiency.

Globally, WWF and The Coca-Cola Company have worked together since 2007 to conserve freshwater resources, working across eleven major river basins, including the Danube in Europe, while helping The Coca-Cola Company become a leader in water efficiency and water stewardship. Their partnership work continues to focus on sustainable management of water, energy, and packaging use as well as sustainable sourcing of agricultural ingredients through to 2020.

You can see more of our UK freshwater work here - http://www.wwf.org.uk/wwf_articles.cfm?unewsid=6535

For further information, please contact:
Natalie Clark T: +44 (0)1483 412253 | M: 07771 818682 | E: nclark@wwf.org.uk"