Water in the environment

Water in the environment relates to water bodies in the wider environment such as rivers, streams, groundwater, lakes and seawater.

The regulation and control of such water bodies, known as ‘controlled waters’, is carried out by the Environment Agency.

Their responsibilities include:

  • abstraction permits from groundwater or rivers
  • discharge permits into controlled waters (eg from industry or from ground de-watering during construction)
  • responding to planning applications where there may be an impact on controlled water (eg within source protection zones or areas with groundwater vulnerability)
  • action on incidents involving controlled waters (eg blooms of blue-green algae within water bodies such as lakes or docks)
  • environmental permits for large industrial installations, waste management and disposal facilities and sites with radioactive substances

The Environment Agency is also responsible for flood risk assessment, flood defences and flood alerts.

The agency publishes useful local environmental information on their website's ‘What’s in your back yard’ section.

Page last updated: 18 September 2017