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Title: The influence of agriculture on the quality of natural waters in England and Wales
Author: National Rivers Authority
Document Type: Monograph
The legislation relating to water quality is extensive and complex. It is not surprising that many farmers are unaware of details of this legislation; nevertheless, the NRA relies on the public for co-operation in carrying out its legal duties. There is a good working relationship with organisations representing the industry and with individual farmers. Agriculture is one of many activities which have an impact on water quality. Others include industry, sewage discharge and urban run-off. Agriculture accounts for about 12 per cent of reported pollution incidents, but these are considered to be only a small proportion of what actually occurs. Most human waste is treated, at considerable cost, before discharge to controlled waters. Farm livestock produce about three times the amount of waste and almost all of this is spread onto land. It is also considerably stronger in terms of its polluting potential, so if only 2 per cent of it gets into water, it is equivalent to the load from all treated human waste. Intensification of agriculture has led to greatly increased risks and occurrence of pollution by slurry, silage liquor, and a wide variety of agrochemicals. As a consequence, water quality has suffered. The Government has recognised the need for control and has introduced several regulations and codes of practice, and also provides grant aid to assist with the introduction of pollution control systems. These measures are welcome, but in the light of inevitable changes in agriculture, the NRA considers it necessary to have improved legislation, increased awareness by farmers of their responsibilities to the environment, and more effective measures to allow farmers to fulfil them. For some time there has been increasing public and political concern about the effects of modern farming methods on the environment and, in some instances, on human health. A series of droughts in recent years has shown the precarious state of many water resources. Furthermore, the NRA has inherited an inadequate system of monitoring and reporting water quality, which is about to be improved. Detailed catchment investigations have exhibited chronic and diffuse pollution problems which are unrecognised by routine monitoring.
Publisher: National Rivers Authority
Publication Date: 1992
Publication Place: Bristol
Subject Keywords: Agricultural pollutionPollution controlEnvironmental legislationWater pollutionSewageEffluentsGroundwater pollutionPollution monitoring
Geographic Keywords: EnglandWales
Extent: 102; + appendices
Total file downloads: 308

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