Details for The Water Resources Act 1993
Definition of controlled waters
The Act applies to all discharges made to controlled
waters in England and Wales. Controlled waters are
1. Territorial waters - marine waters within
three nautical miles of the baseline which marks
the territorial sea.
2. Coastal waters - waters between the baseline
marking the territorial sea and the limit of
high tide on land.
Water Protection Zones and Nitrate
Sections 93 and 94 of this Act provide for the
establishment of Water Protection Zones (WPZs) and
Nitrate Sensitive Areas (NSAs) respectively.
32 NSAs have been designated, mostly in Eastern
England. Farmers are compensated if they adopt >environmentally
friendly= farming practices that result in a decrease
in nitrate application to land.
Offences of Polluting Controlled
Under Section 85 of this Act, it is an offence
to cause, or knowingly permit, the entry into controlled
waters, either directly or via a drain or sewer,
- any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter;
- any solid waste matter;
- any matter, other than trade or sewage effluent,
via a drain or sewer pipe, if it has been prohibited
by the Environment Agency;
- trade or sewage effluent;
- any matter likely to impede the flow;
- any effluent through a pipe into the sea outside
the seaward limit of controlled waters.
A person shall not be guilty of an offence if the
discharge is consented by the Environment Agency.
Therefore, an offence is committed as a result of
unconsented discharges and accidental spillages
which result in the entry of polluting matter to
water. Anyone committing such an offence is subject
The Environment Agency in England and Wales can
place consent conditions on any discharge containing
a compound likely to cause pollution in the aquatic
environment. The Act also outlines the procedure
for obtaining, reviewing and charging for the issue
of discharge consents and requires the Agency to
keep a public register of all data relevant to the
discharge and the receiving water. The Act identifies
the Environment Agency in England and Wales as the
competent authority for the control of discharges
to controlled waters.
In Scotland, the discharge of trade and sewage
effluent to rivers and tidal waters is controlled
under the Rivers (Prevention of Pollution) Scotland
Acts 1951 and 1965. The control and monitoring of
the discharges is the function of SEPA.
In Northern Ireland, the Water and Sewerage (Northern
Ireland) Order 1973 contains provisions for the
Environment and Heritage Service to grant consents
to discharge trade effluents to public sewers and
sewage and trade effluents to surface waters.
Part II of the Water Resources Act 1991 provides
for the requirement for the licensing of abstractions
from inland waters in England and Wales.