POST - Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Diffuse Pollution of Water by Agriculture

Published Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Water pollution regulation is devolved in the UK. Surface, coastal and ground waters in England suffer from significant pollution problems: 78% of surface and groundwater bodies fail to meet the ‘good’ ecological status prescribed by the EU Water Frameworks Directive. Pollution increases water treatment costs and adversely affects wildlife. Compared to treatment, preventing water pollution at source can have a cost-benefit ratio as high as 1:65. This POSTnote describes the contribution of agriculture to water pollution, and measures that can be taken to reduce it.

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Water pollution regulation is devolved in the UK. Surface, coastal and ground waters in England suffer from significant pollution problems: 78% of surface and groundwater bodies fail to meet the ‘good’ ecological status prescribed by the EU Water Frameworks Directive. Pollution increases water treatment costs and adversely affects wildlife. Compared to treatment, preventing water pollution at source can have a cost-benefit ratio as high as 1:65. This POSTnote describes the contribution of agriculture to water pollution, and measures that can be taken to reduce it.

POSTnotes POST-PN-478

Author: Jonathan Wentworth

Topics: Agriculture, Agriculture and environment, Hedges and ditches, Water

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The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology produces independent, balanced and accessible briefings on public policy issues related to science and technology.