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New approach to improving the future health of Scotland's water

21st January 2009

Scotland's environment watchdog has found that 57% of Scotland's water is in good condition, or better. This provides an excellent basis for our future livelihoods, economy and recreation. However, support is needed to deliver further improvements for a sustainable water environment from now and into the future.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) recently published drafts of the first River Basin Management Plans for the Scotland and Solway Tweed river basin districts (jointly with the Environment Agency). The plans provide a summary of the condition of the environment using the new classification system which is being applied across Europe.

Colin Bayes, SEPA's Director of Environmental Protection and Improvement, said, "Scotland's water continues to be an important economic and social asset. It is relied upon for drinking water, recreation and by industries such as whisky manufacture, hydropower and farming. And although problems do exist, the majority of Scotland's rivers are of good quality. In the past few decades we have dramatically reduced water pollution resulting in major improvements and recent legislation requires SEPA to consider impacts that go beyond pollution. These include pressures from water abstraction, impoundments, engineering works and invasive non-native species. The first river basin management plan will be the start of the journey and is a key milestone in the management of the water environment."

The draft plans detail actions to be taken by a range of agencies, industry, non-governmental organisations and individuals to continue to protect and improve Scotland's waters. The result of implementing the draft plans will be an additional 10% of waters improved. SEPA is now seeking your views through consultation, as well as support in implementing the actions set out in the draft plans.

Commenting on the collaborative approach taken by SEPA to produce the plans, Colin Bayes added, "Effectively involving others has been key to developing the draft plans; we are eager to ensure that as many people as possible are involved in helping to achieve the ambitious goals set out. All who manage and impact on the water environment need to continue to work together to carry out a programme of measures to achieve improvements."

Supplementary to the draft plan for the Scotland district are eight area management plans, each with information on the local water environment, including current conditions, the main pressures and the actions required to address them.

The district and area plans set out what SEPA and others are aiming to achieve for the water environment until 2027. Your views are important and will be used to develop the final plans to be published in December 2009.

Michael Russell MSP, Minister for Environment said, "We must continue to seek out improvements beyond those set out in the draft plans to help achieve a sustainable Scotland and a healthy water environment. To this end the Scottish Government has released two consultations: 'Scotland's Water: Future Directions' and 'Restoration of the Water Environment' which look at further ways that we can make improvements over the long term in a proportionate, cost effective way."

The consultation documents are available from, so have your say before 22 June 2009 and consider how you can contribute to the protection and improvement of one of Scotland's most valuable assets.


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