Reed bed treatment is put in the context of a major water company’s need to provide reliable, high quality, effluents from small sewage treatment works whilst seeking to minimise running costs. Design and operational information is given for reed bed applications in Severn Trent Water. Performance details are provided for application to secondary, tertiary and storm overflow treatment. The results give particular confidence in the system’s ability to deliver very high quality effluents when used for tertiary treatment, the company’s biggest application. Reed beds work well against less demanding criteria for secondary treatment at small sites and show great promise for storm overflow treatment.