Land use change
The health of our rivers reflects the health of the land that surrounds them.
What’s going on?
Land use has a major effect on river water quality.
Woodland, healthy peatland, and other natural environments, for example, soak up rainwater and then release it slowly and healthily into streams and rivers.
However, rainwater from urban sprawl, intensively farmed fields, and industrial land often includes large amounts of pollution and flows into rivers quickly. The impact can be devastating.
- About 72% of land in the UK is used for agriculture. About six per cent of land in the UK is built on. 
- Rainwater run-off from intensively farmland arable land can be four times what it is from woodland, and run-off from pavements is around eight times what it is from trees. 
- Nitrate levels in our rivers, mostly from agricultural fertilisers and slurry, have come down slowly over the last twenty years but have risen in the last two years. 
Get nature positive
We can improve the health of our rivers by making relatively straightforward changes to how we use land – changes that have many knock-on environmental and economic benefits.
Many water companies are at the forefront of working with farmers and others to restore nature to everyone’s benefit.
Inspired by the steps leading water companies are already taking, we’ve compiled suggested actions to help you on your journey to nature positivity.
Actions for nature