Water quality refers to the biological, chemical and physical makeup of the water. There are always natural changes in water quality, but industrialisation, population growth, climate change and land-use change have meant more pollutants are entering water systems than ever before. These pollutants alter entire ecosystems and present a danger to human health.

This pollution can be very sudden and dramatic - the BP oil spill made headlines for months. Other pollution, however, is sometimes harder to spot. Nitrogen and phosphorous, for example, quietly enter the environment as by-products of industrial processes. The resulting nutrient-rich water system can actually be harmful for aquatic life, with algae using up all the oxygen and creating ‘dead zones’.  

There is also the financial cost and the toll on human health. Nitrogen pollution alone costs Europe an estimated £60-280 billion per year, and about 10 million Europeans drink water with unsafe levels of nitrate.

CEH work on water quality

Projects

Monitoring sites

Research facilities

Drip irrigated potato crop
Achieving efficient water use to feed more people
Dr Andrew Singer
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology participates in first national PhD training programme to tackle antimicrobial resistance
MARS project
International eConference to address the future of water management in Europe under the next phase of the Water Framework Directive (WFD)
iLEAPS
Theme for 5th Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS) to focus on understanding the impact of land-atmosphere exchanges
Professor Alan Jenkins with Professor Ajit K Chaturvedi
New link with Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
IIdustry located on the banks of the Soghua River
Pollution discharge management for water quality improvement in the Songhuajiang-Liaohe River Basin, NE China

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