28Nov 2012

Get involved – Managing urban diffuse pollution

Richard Martin, Head of  Non-Agricultural Diffuse Water Pollution

Urban diffuse pollution, or to be more precise “Non-agricultural diffuse pollution”, blights many of our rivers, streams and groundwaters. It comes from a wide range of sources, which on their own would often not impact too greatly, but when combined and over a long period, can have a serious impact.


Our urban rivers, in many instances are forgotten and unvalued; however, people are starting to see the benefits they bring to our towns and cities as focal points and amenity recreation spaces. As a government, we want to increase their value to allow more people greater access and quality of life.


A major problem is that the issues that impact on these watercourses are often tangled, with no one ‘owner’ of the problem, where sometimes interventions, which can be expensive, need physical space, which is precious. What is more, we don’t have a complete picture regarding the evidence on pollution sources, particularly around the costs and benefits of mitigation.


In a consultation document we, Defra, have set out, based on the evidence available, what we understand to be the issues and how we should tackle them. We are gathering evidence on urban runoff, poorly plumbed drainage systems, old deposits of polluted sediment and runoff, in order to calculate their scale and impact on our natural resources. However we don’t have all the answers particularly around cost effective solutions.


This is why Defra needs your input to help us determine what our aims should be, how to prioritise what we should do, and what sources of pollution we should focus on:

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