Water: Testing

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 22nd March 2018.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many water quality tests the Environment Agency carried out in 2017 compared with the previous seven years.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Water quality in England has been improving significantly over recent decades: we have the cleanest bathing waters since records began, serious pollution incidents are steadily declining and rivers that were biologically dead are reviving.

In 2017 the Environment Agency (EA) collected 95,202 water samples and tested them for a total of 1,745,242 individual measures of water quality. The table below shows the numbers of samples and tests for the previous seven years.

In this period monitoring activity peaked in 2013 due to extensive water quality investigations required for the first cycle of the Water Framework Directive which informed River Basin Management Plans published in 2015. Since then the EA has refined its monitoring programmes to make them even more targeted, risk based and efficient. For example, the EA has been able to deliver a 20% reduction in monitoring for the bathing water directive as a result of the improvements in water quality secured in recent years and better scientific understanding of quality at each bathing water. Similar approaches are being applied to other monitoring programmes so that the EA can focus its monitoring activity where it is needed to drive improvements and effectively manage pressures on the water environment.

Year

Number of water samples

Number of tests for individual measures of water quality

2010

131,838

2,510,250

2011

137,340

2,579,323

2012

155,394

2,670,028

2013

159,964

2,755,700

2014

135,392

2,262,788

2015

122,576

2,156,176

2016

112,224

2,020,475

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