Government forces go-slow on water quality objectives

Plans by the National Rivers Authority (NRA) for introducing statutory water quality objectives (SWQOs) in England and Wales have been severely cut back by the Government. A consultation paper issued by the Department of the Environment (DoE) in December makes it clear that the implementation of SWQOs will be slower, and the deadlines for meeting them longer, than originally proposed by the NRA.1

SWQOs are to be set on a catchment-by-catchment basis by the Secretary of State under section 83 of the Water Resources Act 1991 on advice from the NRA. They will lay down quality targets for each stretch of river, to be achieved by specified dates. SWQOs will be used by the NRA to derive consent limits for effluent discharges by industry and the water companies.

The NRA's original proposals for a water classification scheme to be used in

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