Tell me more about water pollution

Our rivers and beaches are valued in many different ways by all those who live in and visit the UK.  They perform a major role in supplying water for our homes and industry, recreation, health and well-being.  They are also important habitats for our wildlife. 

These pages tell you about the sources, the impacts and the types of water pollution and what you can do to help.  Click on the photos to read more.

If you see pollution report it immediately on 0800 807060

Types of water pollution

Human activities like agriculture, industry and sewage discharges pollute our water environment.  Pollution occurs both in the countryside and within our towns and cities.  Improving urban rivers will enhance our quality of life and contribute to growth and urban regeneration.  In our urban areas pollution comes from our homes and lifestyles.

Water quality impacts of misconnections

Discharges from sewage misconnections contain a range of pollutants that can have very significant impacts because they bypass sewage treatment.  In many urban streams it can be difficult to understand the true impacts because of the combined effects of other types of pollution such as run-off from roads.  Misconnections cause failures in water quality standards required by the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and revised Bathing Water Directive (rBWD).

The 7 ways in which we can pollute water

There are 7 ways in which our rivers and seas can be polluted. These are; physical impacts - artificially altered or affected by heat and solids; biologically –  pathogens/disease agents or invasive species; toxins – either chronic or acute effects; de-oxygenation - whereby dissolved oxygen levels are reduced; euthrophication – the adverse impact caused by nutrients; radiological – the introduction of radioactive isotopes; and aesthetically – litter and visual amenity impacts.

What you can do to stop water pollution

When most people think of river pollution they think of sources like factories, farms and industry.  Yet in many cases, the pollution comes from a much less obvious place - our homes and lifestyles.  Misconnections, car washing, pouring oils or chemicals down road grids, wasting water and littering all have impacts.  Click on the love your river picture left to find out about the Healthy River Code.