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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / United Kingdom / Freshwater - Why care? (United Kingdom)

Freshwater - Why care? (United Kingdom)

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SOER Common environmental theme from United Kingdom
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

We’ve come to expect some of the highest quality water in the world, and an almost endless supply. However, the more we use the less there is for the countryside and the wildlife around us.

Much of the water we use is disposed of through sewers. We demand safe bathing water and good public health, so we clean sewage to high standards. But along with direct pollution, for example from agriculture, sewer discharges continue to cause problems for the natural environment of our rivers, lakes and seas.

Water also has profound aesthetic and cultural appeal across the UK. For example, the rivers, lakes and the bathing waters along the Welsh coast, the lochs of Scotland and loughs of Northern Ireland provide a habitat for wildlife and a focus for tourism.

Because of our need to adapt to climate change, our water intensive lifestyle, and other pressures such as changing land use, we need to find ways of using water much more efficiently and sustainably if we are to continue to enjoy high standards and constant supply. The drought in the South East region of England in 2004-06 and the floods of 2007 brought into focus the pressures we know climate change will bring.

Flooding causes significant economic, social and environmental damage. It is estimated that flooding costs the UK, on average, £1 billion a year in damages as well as causing social disruption with destroyed infrastructure, health implications and negative impacts on the environment and biodiversity. The probability and severity of flooding is likely to increase in the future due to climate change and human actions.

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The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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