Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Over half of our freshwater is overly polluted!

Baroness Byford (Conservative) asked Her Majesty's Government in the House of Lords yesterday what proportion of tests of freshwater fail due to phosphate pollution; and what other main sources cause freshwater to fail standards tests.

Lord de Mauley (Whip, House of Lords; Conservative) replied that:

"Forty-one per cent of river water bodies and 64 per cent of lakes in England and Wales assessed under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) currently fail to meet the phosphate standards for good ecological status. This is based on WFD classification data for the period 2006-08 and was used for the River Basin Management Plans, published in 2009. The main reasons for failure of the phosphate standards are sewage effluent discharges and run-off from agricultural land. There are standards for over 50 other water quality parameters in freshwaters and the sources of pollution causing failures."

We're running out of freshwater and the freshwater that we have is polluted! Agriculture accounts for around 61% of the nitrate in rivers (ADAS report to Defra 2007) and around 26% of phosphates (White and Hammond report to Defra 2006).

The Government’s Target and trajectory is to reduce the levels of nitrate and phosphate in river water from agricultural sources to contribute to meeting the environmental objectives of the Water Framework Directive by 2015.

"Agriculture provides our food and fibre but soaks up 70% of the water we use, and is perhaps the biggest single driver behind the loss of freshwater ecosystems. WWF-UK is encouraging farmers and the world’s largest food sector companies to implement better management practices that use water efficiently and minimise harmful chemical pollution." WWF Safeguarding World Rivers & Lakes.