Water pollution is the contamination of streams, lakes, underground water or the sea by substances harmful to living things. The major water pollutants are chemical, biological or physical materials that degrade water quality.
The Environment Agency is the regulator for water and is responsible for maintaining or improving the quality of fresh, marine, surface and underground water in England and Wales.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate is responsible for assessing the quality of drinking water in England and Wales, taking enforcement action if standards are not being met, and appropriate action when water is unfit for human consumption. Further information about drinking water and the DWI can be found on its website.
Most water pollution incidents need to be reported to the Environment Agency although Sefton Council also have responsibility for dealing with certain types of water pollution, such as discharges from cess pools or septic tanks that cause a risk to health or a nuisance.
Sefton Council also have a responsibility to enforce controls over emissions to water from certain classes of industrial premises.
The Environment Agency regularly sample bathing water quality from May to September on Southport, Ainsdale and Formby beaches.