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UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

How the Environment Act 2021 Sets a Global Standard for Water Quality

In November 2021, England implemented an innovative environmental protection framework known as the Environment Act 2021. This law was established to enhance air and water quality, address waste management, boost recycling efforts, combat species decline, and enhance overall environmental health. Let's delve into the reasons behind the enactment of this legislation and its importance in creating a healthier environment for the generations that follow.

UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

Chalk Streams: Healthy waterways in England, where water flows over flinty gravel beds, producing perfect habitats for animals to breed and thrive.

Public Calls for Change

In the period leading up to the passing of the Environment Act, mounting public demand for the restoration of England's rivers was fuelled by notable prosecutions of water utility companies for discharging untreated sewage pollution to nearby rivers.

UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

YSI's EXO Multiparameter Sondes are widely acknowledged as the top option for water quality monitoring in England. These sondes seamlessly integrate with telemetry systems to provide data in multiple formats, such as through HydroSphere, Xylem's cloud-based data visualisation platform, or directly to a water utility SCADA system.

The successful rollout of an England-wide sewage storm overflow Event Duration Monitoring initiative has heightened the discourse on river pollution and amplified calls for government intervention. Furthermore, the emergence of river campaign groups during pandemic lockdowns, spurred by the closure of swimming facilities, has drawn attention to outdoor activities like swimming, surfing, rowing, and dog walking, prompting a new wave of environmentally conscious individuals who had become exposed to the environment’s poor welfare. With a growing momentum for change, the government has unveiled an ambitious strategy to guide the environment back to good health.

UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

Hydrosphere can examine numerous data points based on user-set thresholds, offering clear map visualisations with alarm notifications.

What does the Environmental Act 2021 Entail?

The Environment Act 2021 establishes ambitious goals for safeguarding our rivers, estuaries, and coastal areas to limit water pollution. One key provision mandate that all English water utilities must conduct ongoing monitoring of water quality upstream and downstream of sewage storm overflows and sewage treatment work outfalls that release into watercourses. The specified water quality parameters currently in place for water utility companies to limit their water degradation encompass Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, pH, Turbidity, Ammonia, and any additional parameters designated by the Secretary of State.

UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

Monitoring river water quality upstream and downstream of storm overflows and effluent outfalls is crucial for identifying peaks in ammonia and other sewage-related parameters.

Environmental Act 2021 Goals and Objectives

The objective is to monitor a minimum of 25% of all non-exempt water utility assets such as sewage works and overflow discharge destinations by the conclusion of 2030. The focus will initially be on high-priority sites, including:

UK Environment Act 2021 Global Water quality Standard

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest which are areas of substantial scientific interest due to rare fauna or flora species, valuable geological features, or physiological characteristics that are inhabitants within these boundaries.
  • Special Areas of Conservation that protect special habitats and terrestrial or marine species listed in the European Union's Habitats Directive.
  • Urban Wastewater Treatment Regulation-sensitive areas, where water bodies at risk of eutrophication should be designated as vulnerable areas.
  • Chalk streams, are known for their pure water sources and ideal conditions for wildlife breeding and flourishing.
  • Assets within 5km upstream of designated inland or estuarine bathing waters.
  • Waters failing Water Framework Directive ecological standards due to storm overflows.

In terms of waste spill reduction, by 2035, water companies must decrease all storm overflows discharging into or near designated bathing waters and enhance 75% of overflows discharging to high-priority sites. By 2050, this requirement will extend to all remaining storm overflows, irrespective of their location in a scheme to fully limit water contamination and river pollution.

The introduction of the Environment Act 2021 in England will welcome a new era in monitoring river water quality and look to pave a program that individuals, communities, and surrounding nations can review, understand, and learn from to build knowledge about the importance of improving environmental health and limiting waste pollution. This new environmental initiative could be a key inspiration for other countries around the globe to follow suit and implement these regulations to ensure we are playing a part in creating a healthier environment for our future generations.

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