This indicator shows changes in the percentage of surface waters (rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries) and groundwater (including wetlands fed by groundwater) where sustainable abstraction criteria are met. River flows and groundwater levels are sustainable when they support ecology that is only slightly impacted by human activity. The indicator is affected by changes in water use, both in relation to leakage and personal consumption (see E8 Efficient use of water). This indicator is also sensitive to effects of future climate change on rainfall and consumption and shows the need for adaptation.
Readiness and links to data
Data on the Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017 (the WFD regulations) Cycle 2 site classifications are available for both surface and ground water bodies on the England Catchment Data Explorer. WFD Cycle 2 site classifications for surface water bodies and WFD Cycle 2 site classifications for ground water bodies are also published as part of the WFD Regulations and the Abstraction Reform Report 2019.
Notes on indicator
There are no new data to report for this indicator in 2020 or 2021 because of a shift from annual to triennial reporting. In future years there will be a change to the data provision for this indicator through new surveillance networks as part of the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment Programme, and results will continue to be reported every three years.
Trend description for B5
Latest data (2022), show 85% of surface water bodies supported required flow thresholds and 73% of groundwater bodies were sustainable. Both these results remain unchanged from the equivalent figures reported in 2019. In 2017, when the timeseries began, 82% of surface water bodies supported required flow thresholds and 72% of groundwater bodies were sustainable.
Assessment of change
No assessment of change was undertaken for this indicator over the short, medium and long-term time periods as there are insufficient data points available. Change since 2018 has been assessed. There has been little or no overall change in the percentage of ground and surface water bodies achieving sustainable abstraction criteria since 2018. However, this is based on 2 data points so should be considered as indicative and not evidence of a clear trend.
Further information on this assessment, along with details on the methodology, is provided in the Assessment background. Summaries by 25 Year Environment Plan goal and information on indicator links are presented in the Assessment results.