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This page is no longer updated. The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute joined forces with SCRI joined forces on 1 April 2011 to create The James Hutton Institute. Please visit the James Hutton Institute website.

waves - issues_best_practice

Water Environment Issues

Rivers supply us with water for drinking and washing, to irrigate crops and water livestock; provide an invaluable commodity to many industries, provide a transportation route, can be used to generate energy and, not least, offer endless opportunities for tourism and recreation.

But due to the nature of rivers, they have historically been abused by the very communities which they support. Until the mid 1800s, the acceptable disposal route for the vast majority of our waste was the nearest available watercourse. Only since the turn of the 19th century have we begun to truly appreciate the life giving properties of rivers and the systems they support, to the extent that the trend of chronic pollution has been turned around. We now have an extensive legislative system to ensure the protection of our water environment and the use of our water resources in a sustainable way.

Pressures on the water environment are many and varied, with problems resulting from changes to both water quality and quantity as well as to morphology. Through the successful implementation of the Control of Pollution Act (1974), point source pollution is no longer the problem it was in inland waters, although sewage effluent is still a major pollutant. Contaminants entering water courses from diffuse sources, such as agricultural, forestry and urban runoff, are now recognised as a major impact collectively. Adverse environmental effects can also result from physical changes such as river engineering works, unsustainable abstraction, changes in flows due to climate change or alterations to the catchment drainage.

Although the River Dee itself is largely of excellent quality, impacted areas and downgraded tributaries exist. Many of the pressures faced by the water environment in the three sub-catchments of the 3 Dee Vision project are representative of environmental pressures across the Dee Catchment, Scotland and the rest of Europe. In the following pages you will find information about the different types of pressures commonly impacting on the water environment of Scotland and some overviews of the current approaches to alleviating these pressures.

For information about the state of Scotland’s water environment, select this link.

For a more recent analysis in line with Water Framework Directive requirements, see SEPA’s characterisation report and consultation on Pressures and Impacts on Scotland’s Water Environment.

The 3 Dee Vision Project is part of the NOLIMP Water Framework Directive Project and is funded by the European Interreg IIIB North Sea Programme.
European Community European Regional Development Fund Interreg North Sea Region Nolimp logo