Close this search box.

New Free Water Trading Software Available

Wheatley Watersource is an innovative software solution to help local environments trade and share water sustainably.

It is free to use by all those interested in sharing and trading water, both from abstraction and from storage reservoirs. Developed by Wheatley Solutions this software is a potential solution to a challenge that the water industry faces on a national scale.

Wheatley Watersource allows the communication necessary to broker and track the trade or sharing of water between water abstraction licence holders and others interested in an alternative source of water e.g. golf courses. Users can advertise the need for water or the availability of surplus water, using a map to show geographic proximity and provide automated alerts to other users of new activity relevant to them. Working with the Environment Agency a set of rules have been approved to provide an immediate assessment of a trade opportunity. To help identify if sharing can take place without the need for a variation in abstraction licence or referral to the Environment Agency, a concept has been developed referred to as a ‘fast trade’. For this pilot project the Environment Agency have also agreed to accept pre-applications for variations in licence through the platform, Wheatley Watersource collects the information required by the Environment Agency and sends to the Permitting Office. Information on individual trade / sharing events is kept confidential and only accessible by the donor and recipient.

Non-licenced water users (e.g. golf courses, garden centres etc) interested in exploring alternative, more environmentally friendly, low-cost sources for water are also encouraged to register free of charge, as registered users will receive automatic notifications of any water needs or offers in their area.

This pilot project was launched in December 2020, initially in part of the East Suffolk catchment area with the aim to prove that a water sharing and trading platform can work before becoming a commercial product. In March 2021, this pilot project was expanded to cover most of East Anglia.

Water abstraction licence holders in the expanded pilot area can register on this free to use platform:

Wheatley Watersource has received support from the Environment Agency, Defra, Essex & Suffolk Water, Anglian Water, Water Resources East, regional groups, abstractors and wildlife organisations.

The Wheatley Watersource platform also provides access to Anglian Water, Essex & Suffolk Water, Northumbrian Water and Yorkshire Water regulatory ‘Market Information,’ showing each water company’s Water Resource Zones (WRZ), the 25 year forecast for supply versus demand forecast. This gives third parties the opportunity to direct an enquiry or offer of assistance to the relevant water company (including offering to trade water or water rights).

More information can be found on the Wheatley website:

Get Involved Today

Find out about the latest volunteer opportunities and explore our hub of resources.

Related Stories


The topics below represent the pressures that many waterbodies in the Combined Essex catchment face. They have been divided into six main categories, but it is quite often that these categories can overlap as pressures relate to each other.

Diffuse pollution occurs as water moves across the land or through the ground and picks pollutants. These pollutants can come from a variety of places, including urban and field run off. The pollutants that enter the river can range from sediment to toxins to excess nutrients, meaning that diffuse pollution can cause a whole range of different issues. The variety in these pressure groups means that it is something that can be quite difficult to tackle. It requires groups of people, business and stakeholders to work together in order to solve this problem.

Fish should be able to travel up and down a river freely, allowing them to move and breed in the most suitable habitats for them. It is important that fish populations do not become isolated, as this makes them more susceptible to disease and puts pressure on their survival. Unfortunately, there are often many barriers along rivers that prevent fish from being able to migrate up and down stream. Where barriers have been identified, they will be seen as a ‘pressure’ on a waterbody. Thankfully, there are many solutions now that can be put in place to aid fish passage, even over large barriers.

The flow in a river can vary greatly throughout the year as rainfall and run off can have an effect. This is a natural process. It is when flow is impacted by non-natural processes that it can cause problems. Sometimes, water can be intercepted or removed from a system; this will reduce the flow, therefore changing the habitat conditions. Some species are happy in high energy rivers. This means that when flow is reduced, these species will no longer survive. The opposite of this can occur when excess water is entering a river, for example through increased runoff. Low energy systems then become high energy and displace the species that live there.

A species that is not meant to be found in a particular area is known as an invasive species. Invasive species can be from a different habitat or a different country altogether. Most of the invasive species that we find on our rivers have come from other countries – plants that people have imported for their gardens or animals that have been released for food or by animal rights activists. Control of invasive species requires a lot of time and effort. We are fortunate that we do have a range of methods to manage most of the invasive species that cause havoc on our rivers, but there are still some which we are still struggling to control.

Many of our rivers have been heavily modified over the years as rivers have been used for a wide range of purposes. Physical modification is one of the biggest factors that causes our rivers to be unhealthy. The issues that it can cause range from reducing habitat, preventing migration of mobile species, and even have an effect on the water quality. Where structures and modifications are no longer in use or necessary, they should be removed to allow the river to regain its natural state. Unfortunately, this action is not always taken which means that many of our rivers are over straightened and contain redundant structures. It is possible to return a lot of our rivers to their natural state, through one off projects, but in other cases it is not possible as the river has been changed to protect assets or manage flooding. It is recognised that some modifications cannot be removed without having severe negative impacts both socially and economically.

This is pollution that comes from a single identifiable source. The pollution entering the river could include a whole range of pollutants. Some point source pollution is known about and licences, for example sewage treatment works. Other sources are not licensed, and therefore work needs to be done with landowners to fix the problems that are allowing the pollution to enter the river. Point source pollution is more easily controlled than diffuse pollution as it often only takes one management approach to solve the issue.