UNITED Utilities is asking businesses and farmers to change their work practices in a bid to purify Crewe’s water supply at source.

Part of the town’s water is drawn from the Llangollen Canal, near Hurleston – one of 38 locations United Utilities (UU) have designated as water safeguard zones because of declining water quality.

The decline does not affect water quality coming out of people’s taps, because it is always treated to a high standard.

However, it does mean more and more expensive, environmentally-unfriendly chemicals may be needed to treat water in future, or expensive upgrades to water treatment works.

Kate Snow UU catchment strategy manager, said: Practices like draining bogs - done to provide improvement to grazing land in the past - we now know are not good for water quality, biodiversity or the environment.

“We have been spearheading work on our own land to change our land management practices and we're hope what we've learned could inspire others.”

UU say simple changes to farming and business practices could reverse declining water quality, and are inviting stakeholders to a series of consultation workshops to help identify local problems and urge people to work together voluntarily to make things better.

UU hope farmers could even save money by using their resources more wisely, or get enhanced access to public funding.

Environment Agency water resources advisor Jane Hodgson said the consultation meetings would be the first step on the road to creating a voluntary action plan.

She said: “At this stage we don't know what financial benefits there may be for taking part in a safeguard zone action plan. It's a new process. However near the River Dane, in Cheshire, creation of a safeguard zone has secured catchment sensitive farming advice and grant assistance for farmers in the area. We need to identify what actions are appropriate for each zone and then focus support to enable relevant land users to make a difference.”