Water quality in Wales has improved considerably in recent decades through a tightening up on pollution from industry, sewage works, waste disposal and treatment of minewaters, and now 80 – 90% of Wales’ main rivers reach good or very good biological status.

However, ministers said there was still room for improvement and have identified agriculture as being a main source for watercourse pollution. Examples of how this can happen include through soil erosion, excess inputs of fertiliser, used sheep dip, or from livestock getting into the water.

“Our seas, rivers and lakes are of major importance and we have a responsibility to keep them healthy. They support a wide range of plant and animal species which are vital to a rich natural habitat,” said Carwyn Jones, Minister for Environment, Planning and Countryside. “It is essential, therefore, that we do everything we can to help farmers avoid polluting our water courses with any run off from their land.”

The Assembly is proposing a number of options for promoting catchment sensitive farming to tackle these issues. Options include further regulation, working with the existing agri-environment measures and cross compliance requirements plus introduction of new additional supportive measures.

The consultation closes on 31 May 2005.

By David Hopkins

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