The government aims to ensure all waterbodies in England meet good ecological status by 2027 - any waterbody that does not meet good ecological status is classified as failing under the European Union’s Water Framework Directive. Somerset faces some serious challenges before this target is achieved:

Only 11% of waterbodies in Somerset are classified as having ‘good ecological status’.

The remaining 89% of waterbodies are failing to meet the targets. There are multiple ‘reasons for not achieving good status’ (RNAG) including:

  • Channel modification - straightening watercourses and flood defences
  • High phosphate levels - sewage, wastewater and agriculture
  • High sediment loads - soil erosion and run-off
  • Low fish populations - lack of habitat and barriers to migration (e.g. weirs)

A large proportion of the issues are associated with agriculture. landowners are losing valuable topsoil, nutrients and pesticides as its washed into watercourses due to erosion, from poor soil structure and compaction caused by changing land use (e.g. the increase in maize being grown in the catchment). Increased high rainfall events as a result of climate change are exacerbating the problem. Further issues are associated with the water industry - water recycling centres, sewage misconnections and septic tanks all contribute to high phosphate levels.

The SCP priorities are focused on collaboration and project delivery to address these issues.

Click here for more information on the issues facing Somerset catchments.

Click here for more information about Somerset catchments WFD data.



Click here to go back to the Somerset Catchment Partnership homepage to learn more about an aspect of the partnership, or go directly to the 'Action Plan' page