Many human activities and their by-products have the potential to pollute water. Large and small industrial enterprises, the water industry, urban infrastructure, agriculture, horticulture, transport, discharges from abandoned mines, and deliberate or accidental pollution incidents can all affect water quality. Pollution may arise as point sources, such as discharges through pipes, or may be more diffuse, such as from run off from streets and buildings, or agricultural nutrients lost from fields.
Investment in infrastructure to improve water quality lies principally with those whose activities that could potentially cause environmental damage, such as industry which discharges into the marine environment or combined sewer outfalls. Whilst is it unlikely that individual operations could cause significant impacts, cumulative impacts can be locally significant. Regulation of water quality lies within the public sector, with much responsibility in the hands of the Environment Agency.
The trend in water quality over the last century has been for a long term decline due to urbanisation and a lack of inadequate investment in wastewater management; long standing water quality legacy issues need to be addressed.
Further detailed information about water quality can be found on the Solent Forum Clean Solent Shores and Seas hub; this looks at water quality by sector and topic.