This indicator takes a broad overview of the condition of the water environment; it relates to freshwater bodies, wetlands, groundwaters, estuaries and coastal waters. The indicator is composed of several metrics including: percentage of water tests meeting good (or better) Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017 (the WFD regulations) status for ecology and chemistry, percentage of water bodies achieving good ecological status, and compliance of waters specially protected for specific uses such as drinking water abstraction and nature conservation. Some of these data relating to protected sites are also included in ‘D2 Extent and condition of protected sites – land, water and sea’. All the Water theme indicators are linked, but 2 indicators that are important to consider as part of the wider state of the water environment are: ‘B4 Condition of bathing waters’ and ‘B6 Natural functions of water and wetland ecosystems’.
Readiness and links to data
This indicator is not available for reporting in 2021 in a finalised form. A revised interim indicator is presented here as an Experimental Statistic. This expands on previous
reporting to show data across the water environment. It includes metrics from the WFD Regulations status tests for (a) surface water bodies (rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal
waters); (b) groundwaters; and (c) waters protected for a specific reason such as drinking waters and nature sites. For each water type, we include a representative element that is tested to assess the condition of a water body; reflecting water quality and/or hydromorphology. There are many more elements assessed and tests undertaken; this represents a snapshot of the complete WFD Regulations dataset. Supporting detail for each of the water types and a more detailed dashboard of data are available in the
Evidence Pack. These data are being published as an Experimental Statistic in order to facilitate user involvement in the development of this indicator. We would therefore welcome any feedback on these statistics, particularly on their usefulness and value, via 25YEPindicators@defra.gov.uk. Further work is required to develop the indicator which may, for example, show change over time. We will work with partners continue to develop our approach for future reporting. Source data are currently published WFD element status; protected area data; State of the environment: water quality report.
a) For surface waters (including rivers, lakes, estuaries and coasts)
16% of surface water bodies met the “one out all out” criteria of the WFD Regulations in 2019. For rivers, invertebrates and the combined test for macrophytes and phytobenthos
(plants and algae) are reported to indicate biological quality, where 76% and 45% of tests
carried out passed for the water bodies assessed respectively. For lakes, the
representative biological element shown is phytoplankton with 52% of water bodies
assessed passing. Saltmarsh is shown for estuaries and coasts and reflects the extent of
habitat and show 36% and 50% of water bodies monitored, pass the test respectively.
75% passing quantitative tests and 45% pass chemical (qualitative) tests.
c) Sites specially protected for specific uses such as drinking water abstraction and
52% of surface water areas and 53% of groundwater drinking water protected areas are
not at risk of deterioration. For protected nature sites, 46% are at favourable condition and
47% are in an unfavourable but recovering condition.