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There are many government agencies across the United Kingdom with a responsibility for water resources, water quality and conservation. The section below gives a summary of these agencies and their responsibilities.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
DEFRA are responsible for all aspects of water policy in England, including water supply and resources, and the regulatory systems for the water environment and the water industry. DEFRA, together with the Scottish Executive, Welsh Assembly Government and the Department of the Environment Northern Ireland have policy responsibility for the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive in the UK.
~ Introduction to Water
~ Water Framework DIrective
The Environment Agency is responsible for maintaining or improving the quality of fresh, marine, surface and underground water in England and Wales.
~ Water Quality
~ Water Resources
Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA)
SEPA is the government body responsible for the protection of the environment in Scotland.
~ Water Framework Directive in Scotland
~ Report: Pressures and Impacts on Scotland's Water Environment
Ireland Department for Regional Development (DRD)
DRD's Water Service has responsibility for the supply of water and the treatment and disposal of sewage throughout Northern Ireland.
~ Water Service website
Natural Heritage (SNH)
SNH is the government body responsible for the conservation and enhancement of Scotland’s natural heritage; wildlife, habitats and landscapes. It advises on policies and promotes projects which aim to improve the natural heritage and support its sustainable use. It designates and promotes protected areas including SSSIs, SPAs, SACs, NNRs and NSAs..
~ SNH home page
Council for Wales (CCW)
The Countryside Council for Wales advises the Government, the National Assembly for Wales, Local Authorities and others on sustaining the natural beauty, wildlife and the opportunity for outdoor enjoyment. CCW is the national wildlife conservation authority for Wales.
~ CCW home page
Formerley English Nature, Natural England is the government agency responsible for nature conservation in England. NE is in charge of designating SSSIs and NNRs, and many other functions including advising the government and undertaking research.
~ Natural England home page
Ireland Environment and Heritage Service (EHS)
EHS takes the lead in advising on, and in implementing, the Government's environmental policy and strategy in Northern Ireland. The Agency carries out a range of activities, which promote the Government's key themes of sustainable development, biodiversity and climate change.
~ Water Management Unit
~ Drinking Water Inspectorate
Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
The JNCC is the UK Government's wildlife advisor, undertaking national and international conservation work on behalf of the three country nature conservation agencies English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales.
~ Freshwater habitats
~ EU Water Framework Directive
Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP)
The UKBAP is the UK Governments response to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and commits detailed plans for the protection of these resources. There are several habitat action plans which cover lakes and lochs:
~ Aquifer fed naturally fluctuating water bodies
~ Eutrophic standing waters
~ Mesotrophic lakes
~ Standing open water and canals
~ Joint Steering Group for UK Lakes HAP website
See also Biodiversity Research Advisory Group (BRAG)
This section lists networks in the UK and further afield who carry out research across the range of aquatic sciences and bring groups together who are interested in lakes.
Acid Waters Monitoring Network (UKAWMN)
The United Kingdom Acid Waters Monitoring Network (UKAWMN), funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was established in 1988 to monitor the ecological impact of acid deposition in areas of the UK believed to be sensitive to acidification. Now in its second decade, its database provides a long-term record of water chemistry and biology which is unique for upland freshwater systems in the UK. There are 10 lake sites in the network.
~ UKAWMN home page
Change Network (ECN)
The Environmental Change Network (ECN) is the UK's long-term environmental monitoring programme. It is designed to collect, store, analyse and interpret long-term data based on a set of key physical, chemical and biological variables which drive and respond to environmental change at a range of terrestrial and freshwater sites across the UK. There are 16 lake sites in the ECN programme.
~ ECN home page
EurAqua is the European Network of Freshwater Research Organizations. The aim of EurAqua is to contribute substantially to the development of European freshwater science and its dissemination on a European scale, thus having a significant input on the development of the scientific basis of European water management.
~ EurAqua home page
- World Lakes Network
LakeNet is a global network of more than 1000 people and organizations in 100+ countries working for the conservation and sustainable management of lakes. The LakeNet Secretariat is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people and solutions to protect and restore the health of the world's lakes.
~ LakeNet home page
This section lists organisations in the UK and further afield who carry out research across the range of aquatic sciences.
Research Services (FRS)
The Fisheries Research Services (FRS) is an agency of the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD). FRS provides expert scientific and technical advice to Government on marine and freshwater fisheries, aquaculture and the protection of the aquatic environment.
~ Fisheries Research Services home page
Change Research Centre (ECRC)
The ECRC is one of University College London's many inter-disciplinary research centres. Its work is concerned primarily with aquatic ecosystem change and climate change on a range of time scales, past, present and future. Their main interests are freshwater ecology and palaeolimnology.
~ ECRC home page
for Ecology and Hydrology
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) is the UK’s Centre of Excellence for research in the terrestrial and freshwater environmental sciences. CEH aim to significantly improve understanding of the processes that determine water flows and water quality, in order to assist in the sustainable management of catchments and their water resources.
~ CEH home page
~ CEH Windermere
~ CEH Dorset
Biological Association (FBA)
The Freshwater Biological Association is a Registered Charity and an independent membership organisation, with members drawn from around the world. Founded in 1929, it aims to promote freshwater science through innovative research, scientific meetings and publications, and by providing sound, independent opinion.Freshwaterlife is an initiative to draw together information on freshwater fauna and flora on the web.
~ Freshwater Biological Association home page
for Water Research (FWR)
FWA is an independent, not for profit organisation, having charitable status, that shares and disseminates knowledge about water, wastewater and research into related environmental issues.
~ FWR home page
~ Water Framework Directive Informnation Centre
The WRc Group is an innovative technology based consultancy providing services to the water, waste and environmental industries. WRc works with governments and regulatory bodies to ensure soundly based regulation.
~ WRC home page
UNEP-WCMC examines the status and location of many different habitats and identifies the key conservation issues regarding them. Their studies provide assessments of habitat protection, and guidance on prioritising conservation action from global and national perspectives.
~ Freshwater habitat
As a key member of the WWF global network, WWF-UK is actively contributing to the Living Waters Programme.
~ WWF work on freshwater
~ Living Waters Programme
~ Partners Wetlands
~ Conservation and protection of Freshwater environments
Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
ASLO fosters a diverse, international scientific community that creates, integrates and communicates knowledge across the full spectrum of aquatic sciences, advances public awareness and education about aquatic resources and research, and promotes scientific stewardship of aquatic resources for the public interest.
~ ASLO home page
Society for Limnology (ASL)
ASL is a scientific society whose focus is the study and management of inland waters. The ASL was established in 1961 and has a current membership of over 650 scientists, managers, engineers, teachers and tertiary level students from all across Australia.
~ ASL home page
Limnological Society (LIMSOC)
The New Zealand Limnological Society (Limsoc) was formed in 1968 to establish effective liason between all persons interested in any aspect of fresh and brackish water research in New Zealand, and to encourage and promote these interests.
~ LIMSOC home page
Water Supply Regulators
Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS)
The primary aim of WRAS is to promote knowledge of the Water Regulations throughout the UK and to encourage their consistent interpretation and enforcement, for the prevention of waste, undue consumption, misuse, erroneous measurement or contamination of water.
~ Water Regulations Advisory Scheme home page
of Water Services (OFWAT)
OFWAT is the the economic regulator for the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. OFWAT also runs WaterVoice - which aims to be an effective and influential voice for water and sewerage customers in England and Wales, in promoting their interests in respect of price, service and value for money.
~ OFWAT home page
~ WaterVoice home page
Water Inspectorate (DWI)
DWI is responsible for assessing the quality of drinking water in England and Wales, taking enforcement action if standards are not being met, and appropriate action when water is unfit for human consumption.
~ Drinking Water Inspectorate home page
Water UK is the industry association that represents all UK water and wastewater service suppliers at national and European level and provides a positive framework for the water industry to engage with government, regulators, stakeholder organisations and the public.
~ Water UK home page
There are 23 regulated water companies across the UK, below are links to some of the largest. More details can be found here.
Southern Water provides water supply and wastewater treatment services across Kent, East and West Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
~ Southern Water home page
Thames Water provides sewage services to 13 million people and drinking water to eight million people. Their supply area covers 5000 square miles across London and the Thames Valley: from Kent in the east to Gloucestershire in the west.
~ Thames Water home page
Yorkshire Water is part of the Kelda Group. Yorkshire Water provides 1.7m households and 140,000 businesses with water and sewerage services.
~ Yorkshire Water home page
Anglian Water is geographically the largest water company within England and Wales and serves 2.6 million properties across East Anglia and the East Midlands.
~ Anglian Water home page
Cymru Welsh Water
Welsh Water is the regulated company that provides water supply and sewerage services to over three million people living and working in Wales and some adjoining areas of England. It has 1.2 million household customers and over 110,000 business customers.
~ Dwr Cymru Welsh Water home page
North West Water is owned by United Utilities. The company supplies about seven million people and 2.9 million households and business premises. The business is also a provider of water and wastewater services to over 400 industrial and commercial enterprises.
~ North West Water home page
Scottish Water provides water and waste water services to 2.2 million customers and 130,000 business customers across Scotland.
~ Scottish Water home page
South West Water is the company that provides water and sewerage services to 1.5 million people in the Westcountry.
~ South West Water home page
Severn Trent Water is the world's fourth largest privately-owned water company - serving over 8 million customers across the heart of the UK, stretching from the Bristol Channel to the Humber, and from mid-Wales to the East Midlands.
~ Severn Trent Water home page
The European Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) aims to secure the ecological, quantitative and qualitative functions of water. It requires that all impacts on water will have to be analysed and actions will have to be taken within river basin management plans...
~ WFD overview from EUROPA website
Environment Agency (EEA)
The EEA aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy making agents and the public.
~ EEA Water theme
Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
The Convention of the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) is intended to strengthen national measures for the protection and ecologically sound management of transboundary surface waters and groundwaters..
~ Water Convention summary
Year of Freshwater 2003
The United Nations General Assembly in resolution 55/196 proclaimed the year 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater. The website provides a comprehensive resource efor all things water related in Europe.
~ Official website of International Year of Freshwater 2003
~ Official UK website for the UN International Year of Freshwater
~ Spin-off from IYF - UK National Collection of Freshwater Sites
The UNESCO Water Portal is intended to enhance access to information related to freshwater available on the World Wide Web.
~ UNESCO Water Portal
This site has information for the angler, netsman, fisheries manager, fish dealer, scientist, or someone who is generally interested in fish. Find out where to fish and all about licences.
~ Environment Agency’s fisheries pages
~ Archiv für Hydrobiologie
~ Aquatic Botany (Elsevier)
~ Ecology of Freshwater Fish (Blackwell)
~ Freshwater Biology (Blackwell)
~ Hydrobiologia (Springer)
~ Hydrobiological Journal (Begell House)
~ Journal of Freshwater Ecology (Oikos)
~ Journal of Limnology (CNR)
~ Journal of Paleolimnology (Springer)
~ Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management (Blackwell)
~ Limnology (Springer)
~ Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
~ Marine and Freshwater Research (CSIRO)
~ Water Research (Elsevier)
~ Water Resources Research (AGU)
~ Wetlands (JSWS)
Blackwell Publishing publish several books about freshwater ecosystems and ecology:
~ Ecology of Fresh Waters (Brian Moss)
~ Freshwater Ecology (Gerry Closs, Barbara Downes and Andrew Boulton)
~ Fundamentals of Aquatic Ecology (Richard Barnes, and K H Mann)
Island Press publish several books about freshwater ecosystems and their ecology:
~ Freshwater Ecosystem Books
Pond Life Indentification Kit
A simple internet guide to small and microscopic pond life.
~ Pond Life Identification Kit
Countryside Survey 2000. Module 2:
Within the overall objectives of the Countryside Survey, a sub-set of more detailed objectives have been developed for the survey of freshwater habitats. These are to provide information on the status, distribution and recent changes in freshwater habitats in Great Britain: to include assessments of freshwater biota, river habitats and water chemistry.
~ Module 2: Survey of Freshwater Habitats