Defra is currently consulting on proposals that could fundamentally improve the freshwater environment for decades to come. Showing support for these proposals is crucial if they are to be seen through.

The right to abstract from water bodies in England and Wales was formally created by the Water Act of 1963. Unfortunately, the Act was created with little consideration of what level of abstraction the river or reservoir could actually sustain, and the consequences are serious. Current levels of abstraction are causing significant ecological problems in over 1,000 rivers, and 42% of groundwater bodies (pretty much every groundwater body in the south and east of England) are failing*.

The proposals under consultation include options to reform the abstraction licensing system, including much-needed protection for the water environment on every abstraction license across the country. They will not deal with existing damaging abstractions, but offer a massive step forward from the current system, with the potential to help safeguard our freshwater environments for the future.

It is likely that Defra will be under a lot of pressure NOT to introduce these changes, and so support is absolutely crucial. The Blueprint for Water coalition is urging all groups that are interested in protecting rivers to respond to the consultation showing support; even if your river is not over-abstracted now, it may well be as the population continues to grow and the climate changes. The Blueprint for Water coalition has prepared a briefing to guide responses. Click here to download this document.

The consultation closes on 28 March.

*Figures quoted from the Blueprint for Water briefing on abstraction reform.


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