SOIL AND WATER

Nutrients leaching from the soil cause eutrophication - the damaging build up of dense plant growth   Photo: Sustainable Food Trust

Nutrients leaching from the soil cause eutrophication - the damaging build up of dense plant growth

Photo: Sustainable Food Trust

Soil erosion captured by satellite leaching in to water around the coast of the UK

Soil erosion captured by satellite leaching in to water around the coast of the UK

A waterlogged field: the structure does not allow water to drain through the soil   Photo: WWF

A waterlogged field: the structure does not allow water to drain through the soil

Photo: WWF

There is a close relationship and interconnectivity between water and land management. Indeed the biology, chemistry and physics of soils are critical to the condition – and the amount - of water that passes through them. Soils are crucial for flood management, clean drinking and bathing waters and waterway biodiversity, whilst diffuse pollution and compacted or damaged soils undermine these eco-services and represent a significant financial burden for water companies and their customers.

These economic interests and the demands of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) mean that across much of the country water companies, scientists and local activists are taking a catchment-based approach to soil management as the best and most affordable means of tackling diffuse pollution at source before it reaches a water treatment works.

There are many approaches to this influenced by style of leadership, regional interests, stakeholder engagement and more. For example, Wessex Water has developed an environmental trading model - En-Trade - and South West Water, in collaboration with the Rivers Trust, has developed the Upstream Thinking initiative.   

We are looking to work with the organisations responsible for driving these initiatives, to presenting their findings, identifying best practise and showcasing their work to government and other stakeholders. 

 
 
Environment-agency.jpg

Yog Watkins of the Westcountry Rivers Trust discusses the critical role healthy soils can play in natural flood management and highlights some pioneering initiatives in this area as part of our Soil Soap Box series.

 

Flood & Coastal Erosion consultation

We also responded to the Environment Agency’s consultation on the Draft flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy in July 2019. You can read our full response here.

 

USEFUL RESOURCES

The Discover Water website provides date on the energy use and carbon emissions of water companies across England and Wales.

UK Progress on Reducing Nitrate Pollution   Enironmental Audit Committee, Nov 2018

UK Progress on Reducing Nitrate Pollution

Enironmental Audit Committee, Nov 2018

Living Planet Report: Aiming Higher   WWF, October 2018

Living Planet Report: Aiming Higher

WWF, October 2018

State of the Environment: Water resources & quality   Environment Agency, May 2018

State of the Environment: Water resources & quality

Environment Agency, May 2018

Saving the Earth: A sustainable future for soils and water   WWF, April 2018

Saving the Earth: A sustainable future for soils and water

WWF, April 2018

Soils and Natural Flood Management: Devon & Cornwall   East Devon Catchment Partnership, August 2017

Soils and Natural Flood Management: Devon & Cornwall

East Devon Catchment Partnership, August 2017

Natural Flood Management Handbook   Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Dec. 2015

Natural Flood Management Handbook

Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Dec. 2015

New basic rules for farmers to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture in England   Defra, September 2015

New basic rules for farmers to tackle diffuse water pollution from agriculture in England

Defra, September 2015

Research to develop the evidence base on soil erosion and water use in agriculture   Cranfield University, June 2015

Research to develop the evidence base on soil erosion and water use in agriculture

Cranfield University, June 2015

For more research and reports visit our reference library.