Environment Agency launches national strategy for combating eutrophication
The Environment Agency (EA) has published its national strategy to combat excessive enrichment of the aquatic environment by nutrients.
The document, Aquatic eutrophication in England and Wales: a management strategy, details the Agency’s intended approach on reducing the harmful effects on the aquatic environment of excessive amounts of nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen.
According to the EA, this new initiative is aimed at maximising the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of action to control eutrophication, which, says the EA, has been identified as a significant pan-European problem.
“Or intention is to work with others to reduce the risks and impacts through a partnership approach at both national and local level,” said Dr Martin Griffiths, EA Head of Water Quality. “This will require long-term commitment from all involved.”
As solutions are generally beyond the remit of any one regulatory body or party, the new national framework will involve a local and national level partnership approach. Combined with this will be national measures to reduce nutrient inputs to water, complemented by more comprehensive catchment-based eutrophication management.
The strategy will also include a review of arrangements for measuring the extent of eutrophication in different types of water habitats, and the impacts of discharges and land use on water quality. Priority for eutrophication management will be given to waters for reasons such as water use being adversely affected, or where wildlife conservation is at risk.
The EA will be adopting interim targets for eutrophication control in freshwaters, and will continue applying specific statutory or international commitments in relation to saline waters.
The national strategy will also include the promotion of a wider understanding of eutrophication, and will undertake a programme of research and development to improve its own understanding of eutrophication. In particular, says the EA, there needs to be more research into the impacts of nutrient-related impacts in saline waters.
“Local action will commence via a pilot approach, the success of which will inform future management measures,” said Griffiths. “Through this strategy the Agency aims to strike a balance between the need for further and better management of eutrophication and the incomplete understanding of some parts of the science.” The pilot schemes will also trial new tools and techniques, and will be introduced in 2000/01.
The new strategy will allow the UK to work towards several European Commission Directives, such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment, Nitrate and Habitats Directives, and will be the EA’s primary vehicle for the implementation of the Habitat Action Plans for mesotrophic and eutrophic standing waters.
Copies of the strategy document and an explanatory leaflet on eutrophication can be obtained from the EA’s Ecotoxicology and Hazardous Substances National Centre on 01491 828 544, or from the EA’s website.
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