7 RIVER WATER QUALITY

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					7. RIVER WATER Q UALITY................. Cross reference: 4, 8, 10 & 27
Indicator – River Water Quality scheme
Current state
Clean water is one of the Park’s special qualities, which visitors and residents enjoy.
The Environment Agency regularly monitor and record water quality along the length of rivers within the National
Park (opposite). The river water quality shown on the map was tested between 1996-98. In some cases the stretches
of river being monitored cross the borders of the Park and these have been shown where possible. Many stretches of
river decline in quality after leaving the Park boundary.
River water quality monitoring is carried out by the Environment Agency throughout England & Wales, under the
Water Resources Act 1991. Monitoring of rivers and canals has been taking place since 1970, but it is only since 1988
that a standardised scheme - General Quality Assessment (GQA) - has been used.
The Environment Agency (using GQA) test separate stretches of freshwater to determine their chemical, biological,
nutrient and aesthetic qualities. Using these factors, the stretches of water can be classified into six bands, which are
standardised across England & Wales (Figure 7   .1).
Water quality within the Park is higher than nationally. Results of three consecutive years are aggregated in each
assessment, with the most recent survey in 1998 producing the results below. Within the Park, 300km of river are
monitored, which is less than 1% of the total for England & Wales (40,000km).

Figure 7.1 – River water quality (1996-1998)
Classification     Percentage of River Length (National Park)            Percentage of River Length(National)
Very Good          93.61%                                                59%
or Good
Fairly Good        5.96%                                                 31%
or Fair
Poor               0.43%                                                 9%
Bad                0%                                                    1%
Trends
Between 1990 and 1998, 36% of the Park’s river length improved in quality, compared with 25% nationally. A further
52% had no data or remained at the same quality, and 12% declined in quality.
Issues
Most of the stretches of water monitored in the Park have their source within the Park, and are therefore not affected
by trans-boundary pollution. The main exception to this is the River Wye which shows Poor quality on entering the
Park, but which improves in quality as it passes through the Park becoming Very Good before its confluence with the
River Derwent.
Between Buxton town centre and the Park boundary there were 21 pollution incidents during 1995-1999. This
stretch also has a sewage works outfall which, following an agreement with the Environment Agency and recent
improvements should see the quality of this stretch improve in future.
The water quality has a direct effect upon the Park’s biodiversity and its use as drinking water. Water-based
invertebrates (such as mayfly, stonefly and freshwater shrimp) are more likely to be affected first if water quality
declines. Some species of fish may also suffer from poor water quality, but also as a result of the lack of invertebrates
to eat. Small mammals (e.g. Water Voles) may also be affected if water quality is continually poor, because pollutants
may kill off some of their food sources and other pollutants will be stored in their tissues, which has the effect of
becoming more concentrated further up the food chain.
The run-off from intensively managed farmland may contain high concentrations of nitrates/chemicals and or slurry
which may significantly alter the water quality, and ultimately the biodiversity of the river corridor. In addition the
increased run-off from heavy rain and flooding causes erosion of soil particles which clouds the water, and reduces its
aesthetic quality.

Links to National Park Management Plan
OBJECTIVE 1 Working together for an ENVIRONMENT where clean earth, air and water are conserved and
enhanced.


page 36                                                                                                      environment
                                                  Meltham Dyke

                                        Diggle Brook




                                             Chew Brook

                                                                                       Little Don River


                                                                                                     Ewden Beck


                                                   Shelf Brook
                                                                          R. Alport            R. Derwent             R. Loxley

                                                  Hurst Brook
                                                                   R. Ashop                         Strines Dyke
                                                                                                                   Ughill Brook


                                                       R. Kinder
                                                                                                                      R. Rivelin

                                                       R. Sett        R.Noe

                                                                  Peakshole Water
                                                          Wash Brook
                        Todd
      Pott Shrigley     Brook
      Brook
                      Harrop
                      Brook            R. Goyt
                                                                                                        Stoke Brook            Barlow Brook


                         R. Dean                                                 R. Wye
                                                                                                                                   Bar Brook




                                Clough Brook

                                                                                      R. Lathkill
                  Shell Brook
                                   R. Dane
                                                    R. Manifold

                                                                                                        R. Bradford


                                                    R. Hamps                   R. Dove




                                                                                                     Bentley Brook




   River Water Quality                                               Very Good                                Fair
                                                                     Good                                     Poor
                                                                     Fairly Good                              Bad
   Source: Environment Agency Website, 2000



environment                                                                                                                                    page 37

				
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