It is not just an issue at a local level; the effects of diffuse pollution on water quality can often be seen miles away from the source, for example beaches designated as ‘bathing waters’ can be affected by runoff coming from further up the catchment.

The effects of diffuse pollution include:

  • Increased risk to farm biosecurity and livestock health
  • Toxic substances in drinking water (E.coli, metaldehyde)
  • Health impacts such as stomach upsets, throat and eye infections experienced by people using bathing waters
  • Excess nutrients causing algal problems in rivers, lochs and estuaries (toxic blue green algae growth, aided by phosphorus from waste water and fertiliser)
  • Damage to wildlife including protected species such as salmon, fresh water pearl mussels and water voles (e.g. eroded soils smothering river beds which are important for fish and invertebrates)
  • Economic impacts for the farm, the wider agricultural sector, tourism and recreation