We need to improve the quality of our open waters, also known as ‘water-bodies’. These include rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater.

We need to do this as only 27% of our water-bodies in England are currently classified as being of ‘good status’ under new standards set down by the EU Water Framework Directive.

Improving water quality in our rivers, streams and other water-bodies has many benefits. These include:

  • safeguarding jobs and businesses which rely on good quality water-bodies
  • making natural habitats better for wildlife


Planning for better water

We’re working with partners across the UK to plan for better water quality and protect sensitive local areas such as bathing waters.

Managing catchments

A catchment is the area from which rainfall flows into a river, lake or other water-body. We work with local partners to make sure catchments are managed economically and efficiently.

Reducing agricultural pollution

Pollution from farms affects rivers and other water-bodies. We’re working with farmers to reduce this agricultural pollution.

Controlling urban pollution

Water in towns and cities can be polluted from a number of sources. It can be difficult to know where pollution is coming from. We’re working closely with the Environment Agency to understand urban pollution better.

Controlling chemical pollution

We’re monitoring and reducing chemical pollutants in open water and other water-bodies to protect the environment.

Managing waste-water, sludge and septic tanks

We’re working to make sure pollutants from waste-water, sludge and septic tanks are reduced and controlled.


Our work in managing the UK’s river and freshwater supplies is based on the European Water Framework Directive (WFD).