Water company abstractions are main cause of low flow rivers

Excessive abstractions by water companies are the major cause of the 40 worst low flow problems in rivers in England and Wales, according to a report by the National Rivers Authority (NRA).1 Solutions in each case could cost the NRA and water companies millions of pounds, and the NRA is continuing to identify new low flow problems.

The report covers the NRA's progress in tackling its 40 top priority low flow problems since they were formally identified in February 1990. Although low flows have been exacerbated by drought in recent years, the rivers are mainly victims of local shortages caused by over-abstraction.

The NRA has concluded that 27 of the 40 problems are linked to public water supply abstractions. Dominant causes in the other cases are abstractions for ag

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