Agency water strategy

The Environment Agency (EA) has identified ways of reducing emissions and continuing to improve water quality, including controlling pollution at source, renewable energy generation, redeveloping existing treatment processes and greater operational efficiencies.

A report it has published into greenhouse gas emissions generated by the water industry, shows that it currently accounts for about five million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year – almost 1% of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If the UK target of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 is to be met, the water sector has an important part to play.

Meeting current environmental quality standards and the higher water quality standards required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) could involve energy intensive processes, resulting in GHG production, said the agency.

The report outlines strategies that the water industry, the EA and others could adopt to reduce the carbon impact of the WFD, and deliver overall emission reductions. These include:

  • Source control and sustain-able drainage systems
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Redeveloping existing treatment processes
  • Greater operating efficiencies

Ian Barker, the EA’s head of water, said: “It’s possible for the industry to reduce CO2 emissions at the same time as meeting higher environmental standards. We will continue to work with water companies, governments and other regulators to ensure this happens.”

Bruce Horton, head of climate change at Water UK, said: “The industry is working hard to deliver higher environmental and water quality standards as required by the WFD, without adding to global climate change through greenhouse gas emissions. The report shows this is not inevitable, but there are barriers that need to be removed to simultaneously achieve high water quality and a low emissions water industry.”

The report is available from

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