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Water Quality

The Environment Agency is responsible for maintaining or improving the quality of fresh, marine, surface and underground water in England and Wales.

Many human activities and their by-products have the potential to pollute water. Large and small industrial enterprises, the water industry, the urban infrastructure, agriculture, horticulture, transport, discharges from abandoned mines, and deliberate or accidental pollution incidents all affect water quality.

Pollution may arise as point sources, such as discharges through pipes, or may be more diffuse, such as from run off from streets and buildings, or agricultural nutrients lost from fields.

We aim to prevent or reduce the risk of water pollution wherever possible, and to ensure that it gets cleaned up if pollution occurs that might lead to effects on ecosystems or people.

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The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) has overall interests for the quality of water in our taps, and local responsibility rests with the local authority environmental health departments.

  • Preventing water pollution from your home
    The drains beneath our feet are a unlikely, but common, source of pollution.
  • Diffuse water pollution
    Diffuse water pollution can arise from many sources, which may be small individually, but their collective impact can be damaging. Diffuse pollution can be caused by current and past land use in agricultural and urban environments.
  • Environmental Quality Standards
    Standards and targets we use to help us take action to protect and improve water quality
  • Regulations, licences and guidance
    How to apply for a water discharge consent, guidance and application forms
  • Disputes regarding connection to the public sewer
    Summary of the Environment Agency's responsibility for the determination of disputes between Applicants for first time sewerage and Sewerage Undertakers under s101A of the Water Industry Act 1991(s101A).
  • Water industry planning - an introduction
    The water industry has over 350,000km of sewers, 6,000 sewage treatment works discharges and 25,000 intermittant discharges. As a result the water industry has the potential to have a great impact on the environment.
  • The Water Framework Directive
    The Water Framework Directive is a new piece of European legislation which promotes a new approach to water management through river basin planning

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Reference Accounts

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Last modified: 06/20/08