Surface water covers water which flows over land, whether through urban environments such as roads and roofs or in rivers, streams and ditches.

Having high quality water in our rivers and streams provides benefits to both people and wildlife. For people it creates high quality and pleasant places to visit, reduces the cost of producing drinking water and allows us to swim in wild places without the risk of getting ill. For wildlife clean water is essential to allow an abundant and diverse mix of species to survive and to maintain all links within freshwater food webs. Without clean rivers and streams we are at risk of reducing the wildlife value of our landscape and costing ourselves a lot more money in using this precious resource.

Water quality is influenced by a number of things from both rural and urban environments. Problems occur as a result of one off, isolated, pollution incidents or a combination of lots of smaller, continuous sources. These problems are often made worse by natural elements such as low river flows (in periods of drought) or a lack of riverside habitat such as trees or other coarse vegetation which filters runoff from the surrounding landscape. Our area of steep slopes and heavy clay geology creates numerous pathways for pollutants to enter the water environment Human activity such as intensified land management, land drainage and river modifications also create sources and pathways for pollution to enter our rivers and streams.

Nitrate, phosphate and faecal contamination from septic tanks, sewage discharges and agriculture have been identified as areas of concern in our area although surface water quality is also compromised by high levels of pesticides and sediment. Although currently little is known about them, further areas of concern are the impact of chemicals and everyday household drugs such as caffeine, anti-depressants and ibuprofen along with micro-plastics and other litter. We know their presence is increasing but little about the problems they create.

Find out more by visiting our interactive map of the catchment

Sign up for your newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest developments.