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Indicator 6.3.2 Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

Percentage of UK surface water bodies awarded ‘Good’ or ‘High’, by water body type, under the Water Framework Directive

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Headline data

Source: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)

Geographical Area: United Kingdom

Unit of Measurement: Percentage (%)

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from UK statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from UK statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other UK-specific metadata information.

Indicator available

Percentage of UK surface water bodies awarded ‘Good’ or ‘High’, by water body type, under the Water Framework Directive

Indicator description

This indicator shows the percentage of surface water bodies in the UK awarded a good or high surface water status classification under the Water Framework Directive. The purpose of the Water Framework Directive is to establish a framework for the protection of inland surface waters, estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater. The framework for delivering the Directive is through River Basin Management Planning. The UK has been split into several River Basin Districts. Each River Basin District has been characterised into smaller management units known as Water Bodies. The surface Water Bodies may be rivers, lakes, estuary or coastal. Surface water status is measured by both its ecological and chemical status. It is assessed against the scale of high, good, moderate, poor and bad. The results published each year relate to data reported in that year under the Water Framework Directive.

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Unit of measurement

Percentage (%)

Definitions

Figures are based on numbers of surface water bodies classified under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Includes rivers, canals (Northern Ireland does not report on canals), lakes, estuaries and coastal water bodies. Surface water status is measured by both its ecological and chemical status. It is assessed against the scale of high, good, moderate, poor and bad. The ecological status of surface waters is assessed according to the following criteria - Biological quality (measured by composition and abundance of specified elements such as fish, benthic invertebrates, aquatic flora); Hydromorphological quality (measured by reference to elements such as river continuity, channel patterns, dynamics of flow or substrate of the river bed); and Physico-chemical quality (measured by reference to elements such as temperature, oxygenation, pH, nutrient conditions and the concentrations of specific pollutants [synthetic and non-synthetic]). The chemical status of surface waters is assessed according to the following criteria - Chemical quality (measured by reference to environmental quality standards for chemical substances at European level). These standards specify maximum annual average concentrations for specific water pollutants. The specific requirements differ depending on which type of surface water body is being monitored. Chemical status is measured as either good or fail. If part of a water body fails on any one of the criteria monitored, it will fail to achieve or lose good status. This is described as the “one out all out” approach. The results published each year relate to data reported in that year under the WFD; data reported in a given year relate to data collected over the previous year (for Scotland) and previous 3 years (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland).

Available disaggregations
Calculations

The percentage of water bodies in each status class has been calculated based on the total number of water bodies assessed in each year. Totals may not agree due to rounding.

Other information

Some small differences exist in the way the administrations and environment agencies implement the methods and tools for assessing water body status. The introduction of new Water Framework Directive (WFD) monitoring data and classification standards (including a new baseline adopting all of the new standards, tools, designations and water body boundaries) in 2014 has led to a step change in the number of water bodies assessed as being in each status class in following years. The formal reporting of new standards in cycle 2 of WFD has used the second cycle plans published in 2015. The introduction of reporting the cycle 2 standards has differed amongst the UK countries. The percentage of water bodies in each status class has been calculated based on the total number of water bodies assessed in each year. The number of water body assessments included varies slightly from year to year. The reductions in the number of assessments made in 2015 and 2016 were primarily due to Wales and then England adopting the monitoring and classification standards laid down in Cycle 2 of the WFD. This resulted in the removal of a number of water bodies that were below the 10km2 catchment area in line with WFD guidance. While data is available from 2009, it is not reported here because data from 2015 onwards are not directly comparable to those in earlier years. Data from 2009 is available from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s website. Data follows the UN specification for this indicator. This indicator has been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

Data last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Metadata last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name

Proportion of bodies of water with good ambient water quality

Target name

By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

Global indicator description
UN designated tier

Tier II

UN custodian agency

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (GEMS/Water)

Link to UN metadata United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Metadata (PDF 4.0 MB) opens in a new window
Organisation

Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)

Periodicity

Annual

Earliest available data

2009

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Surface water status opens in a new window
Release date

05/09/2019

Next release

TBC

Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

comment@jncc.gov.uk

Other information