Diffuse pollution is single biggest threat to UK water

Diffuse pollution is the single biggest threat to the UK water ecosystem, a new think-tank has claimed.

Occurring on a mass scale over the whole of the UK's land-mass and water infrastructure, the newly formed Forum for Water claims that the insidious accumulation of diffuse pollutants in our water supply represents a severe risk to the viability of our core resource.

The Forum is calling for an exclusive Policy Planning Strategy (PPS) for water with an increased level of engagement from the water industry itself; consolidation of the 'Catchment Management' concept and a long-term commitment to catchment-sensitive farming with greater accountability for catchment officers; stronger water protection focus in the Common Agricultural Policy; and delivery of best value to water consumers.

Stephen Bolt, Chair of the Forum and Head of Integrated Water and Environmental Management at ADAS, said: "An exclusive PPS for water, which could link to the Basin Management Plans under the Water Framework Directive, would direct all stakeholders towards a new sustainable catchment-focused way of thinking and encourage a culture of practical action beyond simply 'good practice'. This is essential if we are to achieve our desired outcomes."

The Forum, initiated by ADAS, brought together representatives from a wide range of organisations including wildlife management, flood and coastal management, water efficiency, policy and agriculture.

"The Forum for Water was born from a desire for immediate positive action to protect our core natural resource and ecosystems, and I am delighted with the outcomes from our first debate," Stephen Bolt said.

"It's very rewarding to see that our panellists, who each came to the Forum from very different organisations and with differing backgrounds and aims, could come to a decided consensus and set of positive objectives so quickly."

Although it acknowledged and welcomed the efforts of the UK regulators so far in addressing the issue of diffuse pollution, the Forum felt that more immediate and sustained action, on a much greater scale, must be undertaken to ensure essential water quality and quantity targets can be met.

The Forum is now set to embark on a programme of environmental lobbying, to raise the profile of sustainable water management and encourage Government, policy makers and implementers to build on work to date.

By David Hopkins




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