Sources of public water supply are adversely affected by agriculture, particularly in terms of high levels of nitrate and pesticides in the water.
Water companies have to ensure that the water they supply to customers complies with the drinking water standards. To do this, they have traditionally built treatment plants to remove pollution from the water. These plants are expensive to build and operate, both in cash and carbon terms.
The water industry is trying to take a new approach, a catchment approach. The industry is involved in more than 100 schemes which aim to work with farmers and the environment to provide improved water quality. Many of these schemes have produced other environmental benefits - for example, reduced flood risk, better soil quality, more sustainable agriculture and improved understanding of pollution risks.
In March 2013 Water UK published a report on reform of the CAP (the EU Common Agricultural Policy), setting out the case for more to be done to protect water quality, the environment and sustainable agriculture through reframing the CAP, with an ambition to provide good water, air and soil quality at its heart.